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Monday, September 14, 2009

Dog jumps on sliding glass door

Dear Jan, My cousin has a German shepherd dog that has made a mess of their sliding glass patio door. When he's outside and wants to come in, he jumps on the door and leaves big muddy paw prints. Plus, he's shredded the screen door. Any ideas? Brad

Dear Brad,
Many years ago I did an in-home lesson with someone who had a Malamute that did the same thing. When he wanted to come in, he'd jump on the door. The people would run to the door and scold him for it, but then they'd let him in. The dog had the people well trained. The scolding meant nothing to him, and he got what he wanted by jumping on the door.

I asked the lady to bring me a pan of cold water. It was winter. I stood inside, just to the side of the patio door where the dog couldn't actually see me, but he could hear us talking. He wanted "in," so I just waited for him to do his thing. The instant he jumped, I flung the sliding door open, yelled "OFF!" at him and tossed the cold water at him. He was aghast. So was his owner. But it worked. The dog had just learned that something different (and unpleasant) happened when he jumped on the door. I showed the owner how to duplicate the action after I was gone, but she told me later that she never had to do it again; the dog had learned from the one startling experience.

The best way to keep a dog from jumping on doors when asking to come inside is to be there BEFORE he has to ask. Most dogs who do this are indoor dogs anyway (or indoor/outdoor). They prefer to be with their people. So let your dog out to potty, and then meet him as he's returning to the door. He'll "learn" that every time he approaches the door, you'll be there to let him in. He won't need to jump or even bark. If he forgets and starts jumping on the door again, simply surprise him when he makes contact with it...the water is just one method. If you have a screen door that opens OUT (onto the dog), you can bump it open and into him as he makes contact with it. Combine the bump with a growly "OFF!" or a "NO!" and your dog will soon learn to not disturb the door monster.

Dogs learn by a combination of positive and negative reinforcement. Anyone who professes the "all positive all the time" approach has dangerously little understanding of dogs. A negative reinforcement should not hurt the dog, but only startle him so he associates HIS actions with the unpleasant result. You, on the other hand, become the "good guy" who is always there at the door to let him in before he has to demand it of you.

As for shredded screen, check with your local custom screen, awning and window providers. There are super-tough "dog-proof" screens on the market now for situations just like this.


Unknown said...

Oh my goodness!!!!! I was so sick and tired of my chocolate lab puppy jumping on teh screen door. I used the cold water remedy. It worked. REALLLY well. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!

Katie said...

That was funny! You should have recorded that event on video. Anyway, it's a good thing that your "dog-proof" glass door didn't shatter. However, it might cause the rollers to misalign from their tracks, making it hard to open or close the sliding glass patio door.
Katie Nicoll

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Danielle Bailey said...

I must agree that dogs are quick learners; they're fast to pick up the tricks you teach them if you do it consistently and repeatedly. And to avoid the muddy spots they always leave on your sliding door, I would suggest you install a protective film on it so that it would be easy for you to clean it up.

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