Here at the University of Doglando, we pride ourselves on being a different breed of doggy daycare. We call it enrichment. We want to enrich our dogs’ lives, everyday, in some way. Manners at gates and doorways is one of those ways. While at its face it may not seem like having a dog sit at doorways and gates is enriching their lives in any way — in fact, it seems like we are making things less fun! Who likes RULES?! — learning good door manners opens up all sorts of wonderful opportunities for the dog.
By getting our dogs to sit at all the gates and doors they come across here on campus, we are giving ourselves multiple opportunities to cash in with our dogs. What do we mean by cash in?
If you would, imagine our relationship with the dog like a bank. Every time we do something the dog likes, we are putting money into our account. Every time we do something the dog doesn’t like, we are withdrawing money from our account. As in life, the goal is to stay in the money! When we reward the dog, whether the reward is the door opening and them getting to go play, or a food reward, we are cashing in. This means, by the time we get to the back field to play, we have cashed in with a single dog a dozen times, just with gates and doors! That kind of cashing in really adds up! Which is good, especially if later on we need to trim a dog’s nails — if they don’t like it, then we really start to withdraw funds.
Besides putting “cash” into the human/dog bond, sitting at gates and doors is a very important habit to have! This simple habit could save your dog’s life. Having appropriate manners, clear boundaries and expectations make a dog more reliable when the door opens, which can prevent you from wrestling with your dog to hold them back. This lowers the stress level between you and your dog when you answer your door, or when guest come over, or when you need to sign for a package. And if your dog behaves well, he or she will be welcome in dog-friendly restaurants, dog parks, and other places where a badly-behaved dog is not welcome. It’s little things like this that open the door — if you’ll pardon the phrase — to enrichment!