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The Minefield!

Every home with multiple dogs has a minefield. You know what I mean right? Think of the place where your dogs get excited. Where they dance around, bark, sing, howl, jump on each other, jump on you, and sometimes even get into a scrap. The most common area for this, is the doorway. The place where the leashes are kept, the place where they go in and out to use (their) bathroom, and the place where friends and strangers knock (heaven forbid "the knock"), come in, leave and stand around talking, hugging, laughing, crying and well just simply, where the carrying on(s) happen. Did you realize though, that this area can be a minefield for the single dog as well! Why? - because the doorway is the place where humans do the things written above, and where the door is knocked, the buzzer buzzed, or doorbell is rung. It is the place where humans jump up and run to, when they hear knocking, buzzing or ringing. That blasted (pun intended), doorway holds so much much! I call it the minefield because it is the place where dogs can explode. Not into pieces, but explode into over the top arousal. It is where dogs can explode together and start lashing out at each other and/or for single dogs, where they can lash out at humans - especially the guests or strangers. I have five terriers, so in my home there are more than the doorway minefields, but alas that is another story altogether. I am sure that many "private, in home" trainers can relate to working with dogs, who run after the feet or pant leg of a guest who is leaving the dog's home. Why do they do this? It is that minefield syndrome rearing it's ugly head again. It is not that the dog so dearly wants the person to stay, so they grip the person's pants and won't let go, or that they so dearly want them to leave, so they bite them on the way out - it is simply the doorway is so exciting! The dog has developed a conditioned response to all the excitement that takes place at the doorway. Those crazy humans who run to the door when it dings or rings, the grabbing of each other (hugging), the emotions (laughing, crying), or all the dogs in the house in a tizzy at one time. For single dogs, I recommend a jar of treats that sits at the doorway and is spread around like chickenfeed when something happens at the door (coming and going). This helps the excited pup focus on the treats and not those crazy humans. The treats can fall from their caregivers or the guests, or both :-) For a couple of pups in the family - you can do the same, however if there are multiple pups, then going to another room, or their kennels prior to the departure of said humans may be best. Multiple pups means a multitude of competition and this can be the cause one of those mines to go off. You can also teach your dogs and your guests to be calm an patient at the doorway. The humans may have to wait a moment for the door to be opened, until the canines can calm down a bit, and the canines need to calm down (sit, down), before the guests come in. The pups can also learn to sit and be patient and wait for the guest or caregiver to give them each a treat. Training calmness at the doorway will take time, but minefields at the doorway were not built in a day, and so creating the opposite, will respectively need to be given due diligence.


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