Teaching appropriate behaviour when leaving the house

Some of you may be aware of the “rules” which rank reduction (RR) programmes advise in order to prevent your dog from achieving a higher status in the household than he has. For those of you who are not familiar with rank reduction programmes, it is based on the flawed theory that dogs, like wolves, are pack animals and that they are constantly vying for a great rank than the one they already have and if we are not being “alpha” enough they will step up and take this role from us. I’ll post more on this later but for now, we’ll discuss one of the rules RR says we should follow.

The rule states that alpha dogs go through passageways and doorways first as they always lead the way. It says we must do this every time we go out a door. So, according to this rule, we should go through the door first, and never let your dog go out the door in front of you because then they think they are leading the walk. If you haven’t trained your dog to wait politely at the door, then we have to use physical strength to hold the dog back, and if you own large breed like I used to, then all you will achieve is aching back muscles and a strained rotator cuff as you try to forcibly hold your dog back before going out the door. It also doesn’t address this issue of you carrying a bag in one hand, keys and dog leash in the other etc.

An alternative, and probably a more acceptable way is to train your dog to sit before you open the door, then open the door, ask your dog to go out first and sit at the other side. You then step out after him/her, keys in hand, lock the door behind you and then proceed on your walk. Pack leadership proponents will raise their hands in horror at this suggestion, but this method means no pulling, no strained muscles or trips to the chiropractor and a dog who has been taught to wait politely while you do the necessary as you leave the house.

Which option would you rather have?

2 thoughts on “Teaching appropriate behaviour when leaving the house

  1. I totally agree with that. My dogs will sit and wait unless I tell them to go first. This is useful if we’re going up or down steps or stairs when I’d like them to go first and not get in my way.

  2. I agree with the last paragraph’s way. The dog knows that I’m in control not coz I walk first, but coz I’ve taught him to wait and only walk when I let him through a cue. It doesn’t matter who eats first, who walks in front, and so on – dogs can understand that you are in control if you teach them that (that they can’t get your food unless you give them, that they can’t run out of doors unless you let them, and so on).

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