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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bolting Through the Door

Hello Jan,
While you were an instructor here in Yakima, we participated in a Leadership series and found out how useful a lead is to having a new pup in the house. My question is how long do you use a lead?
We have a 10 mo Yellow Lab who we’ve successfully house trained to potty outside on the “rocks” but when is ready to return into the house…she bolts in and acts like a crazy dog. She is an indoor dog and not kenneled for more than 4 hrs at a time. How long do I continue keeping her a lead on her in the house? Is this something we’ll have to do for many yrs? She is a much better behaved dog when on a lead, and our family can enjoy some sanity while she is on the lead..I’m just wondering how long do I expect to have to do this?


Okay, Tracey, let's try this: let's not ALLOW her to bolt in the door and act crazy. We'll change her behavior by changing YOUR behavior in this situation.

First, when she comes to the door, make her "curb" before entering. That way, she'll already be under your control when she steps foot over the threshold. Maintain a CALM, ASSERTIVE demeanor yourself as you do this. If you sound frantic or even overly happy, she could take that as a cue to amp up her own energy level. Keep things low-key and UNDER CONTROL.

When you release her from her curb at the door, and she enters the house, have her sit again, immediately, and re-attach the drag leash. Yes, you may have to use the house leash for a long time. If it works, let it keep working!

You can wean her off the drag leash by going to shorter and shorter leashes, until all she is wearing is a five-inch piece of old leash attached to her collar. This way you still have a "handle" you can grab if you need to, and she must know or think you always have that capability.

Her excitement about returning to the house may have started when YOU showed excitement and pleasure about her "doing her business" outside. Dogs mirror or mimmick our own energy levels. They take their attitude cues from us. So if you were both ecstatic once or twice when she pottied and came to the door, she now things that's how she should act every time. Once again, if you now act calm, collected and IN CHARGE when she comes to the door, chances are better that she'll be calmer too.

If you have trouble staying calm, pretend you're the strict schoolmarm at a young lady's finishing school, and she is one of your pupils!

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