The power of working thresholds with a dog in training is a tremendously powerful tool but yet so often overlooked. Many trainers discount this exercise as not important. I could not disagree more. It is one of the first things I do when starting a new dog.
It is a very simple task yet will set the tone instantly. I don’t speak, I don’t use commands, and I don’t block the doorway. I don’t care if the dog is sitting, standing or laying down, it just doesn’t matter. I try to use zero leash pressure, none at all if possible.
Here is what I do. I approach a closed door with the dog at my side. I don’t say anything. I open the door and when the dog starts to move forward, which they usually will, I give a little bump with my leg. Possibly give an uh uh the first time which is my no command, but I only do that once if at all. I will stand off to the side giving the dog all the room in the world to move forward. Again if the dog attempts to move forward a give a bump of the leg. When the dog is relaxed and no longer attempting to move through the doorway I don’t say anything, I don’t look or wait for the dog, I just go through the doorway and the dog follows. It is that simple but yet tremendously powerful.
When you can get an untrained and unruly dog that is use to pulling with all its force and running through every doorway to change its usual behavior and looking to you for guidance without ever uttering a word it is a beautiful connection that allows the relationship and learning to begin. It speaks volumes without any words.