Scratching the heck out of doors
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Thread: Scratching the heck out of doors

  1. #1
    rangersmom is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultScratching the heck out of doors

    Our home has beautiful, real oak, solid wood doors on all the rooms. Ranger has learned to open doors with his paws and of course, if a door is closed (bedroom) and he wants to get in he scratches it, or if he is excited he scratches at the front door. Of course I keep his nails trimmed, but that really doesn't help. We are about to get a new front door and I know he is going to scratch the heck out of it.

    Oh and this happens if he is excited or we are not in the room. For instance, this morning we were both* in the bathroom and he went to the door and looked up at me - good dog - so I opened the door for him to leave. But if we aren't there....he will scratch.

    Any thoughts on how you trained them to stop this or an alternative? He is a vocal dog, but not sure I want to encourage this. I may just start taping felt everywhere!!!!
    .................................................. ...................................<br />check out my baby&#039;s blog: http://rangerthelab.com<br /><br />

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  3. #2
    luke from georgia is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Scratching the heck out of doors

    scratching at doors has an established history of being effective in opening closed doors, so ranger has learned to repeat the behavior. if you want to stop the behavior you have to stop making it effective and or teach another behavior that is more effective for opening doors.

    at our house, we keep all the room doors open, and the dogs are always where we are, and if for whatever reason, we do have to shut them out, they just lay down and stare at the door until it opens. i think my dogs think that staring intently at the door makes it open. LOL!

    which doors are you trying to train for? the front door only?

    "Properly trained, a man can be dog's best friend." ~ Corey Ford

  4. #3
    rangersmom is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Scratching the heck out of doors

    Certainly, I understand what you are saying and am on board. I just haven't decided what behavior I want to teach him - and thought I would get some ideas here. I'm not sure I'm inclined for barking, although he would get on board with it (he could speak on command since he was about 2.5 months old). However he is simply not patient enough (too young) to sit and stare at the door intently - especially if we do not know he wants out. We too leave the doors open all the time, however there are occasions to shut them. Trust me - I haven't gone to the bathroom by myself in eleven weeks. ;D

    Here's the crutch: when we arrive home and he is not crated (another family member is in there with him) he will hear me/someone and jump on the door scratching. I leave the front door and he is inside, he jumps on the front door. So in order to get him to STOP, you have to OPEN the door (esp. if I am by myself). Thus - he got what he wanted. Also my other family members are hard to train :. For instance my mother will hold him back which simply increases his focus to lunge forward and scratch/bark. He's just happy to see us and doesn't know better.

    We are about to get a new front door and it is going to freak out my husband if I don't fix this. And he totally loves him to death.
    .................................................. ...................................<br />check out my baby&#039;s blog: http://rangerthelab.com<br /><br />

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  6. #4
    luke from georgia is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Scratching the heck out of doors

    i am a bit confused.

    ranger scratches at the door to indicate that he needs to go out to potty?
    AND
    ranger scratches at the door when you are on the other side and he wants the door opened so he can be with you?

    you want to resolve both these issues?* yes?* am i missing anything else regarding the door scratching?

    the reason i ask is because the training regiment for the scratching may need to be different for each senario as each senario serves a different purpose and your objectives are different.* for going out to potty, you WANT ranger to communicate his need to get out the door.* for the other, you want ranger to develope and exercise self control.

    "Properly trained, a man can be dog's best friend." ~ Corey Ford

  7. #5
    luke from georgia is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Scratching the heck out of doors

    you know...bell training might resolve both issues.

    "Properly trained, a man can be dog's best friend." ~ Corey Ford

  8. #6
    rangersmom is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Scratching the heck out of doors

    Okay - i'm not being clear and that doesn't help.

    I have a bell on the front door for Ranger to tell me when he wants to go potty. He uses it, or sometimes stands there and sometimes barks to us. This is NOT the problem.

    This is the challenge:

    If there is a door shut (bedroom door) and he wants to get in or he wants to get out of it, he will go up and scratch it. Now - in his mind he also might be trying to push it "open". But if he wants out (like if he is shut in the bedroom by accident or something - he will scratch the door - maybe bark too if he is excited.

    Front door - we go outside and he wants to come with us - but should not for some reason - barks and jumps on the door and ends up scratching it. If we arrive and he hears us...same thing.

    Good example - I told him to wait and shut the door (I was giving food to the other dog outside) and he jumped on the door and scratched. I opened it quickly - told him, NO - WAIT. Shut the door, and finished what I had to do and then came inside. He did wait the second time - and i gave him a treat.

    There is no way to train the excitement without opening the silly door - which - he gets what he wants.
    .................................................. ...................................<br />check out my baby&#039;s blog: http://rangerthelab.com<br /><br />

  9. #7
    luke from georgia is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Scratching the heck out of doors

    the more i think about this, the more i'm thinking that maintenance and prevention may be your best solution.
    as you said, ranger is young and has lots of energy, and probably has some immature anxieties as well.

    i think it is important to teach our dogs how to deal with stress in their lives, to take dissapointments in stride, and to develope self control and good manners we want them to have contrary to some of their innate canine tendencies to do what dogs do.

    you understand that ranger has a reinforement history with scratching doors, so that behavior will be very hard to reverse, and will likely get worse before it gets better (see the link in my sig).* whichever counterconditioning methods you try will take some amount of time to be effective.* counterconditioning is when one behavior is in direct conflict with another behavior, for example, if you want to make a dog stop jumping, tell him to sit.* the dog cannot jump and sit at the same time.

    i'm not sure why my dogs do not scratch at the door.* maybe it's a personality thing.* maybe it helps that i taught them early on the meaning of WAIT and cues that help them understand that in some instances i will be leaving them for a brief time while at other times, i will be gone for a prolonged period of time.* i have gotten in the habit of saying, "wait here, i'll be right back" when i have to shut them out of something for just a moment like if i want to go get the mail by myself.* if i have to leave for a long time, i say, "bye, bye, i'll see you later."* my dogs definately understand these two cues.* when i head for the door, they follow, hoping to tag along, but if i say, "bye, bye, i'll see you later," they'll stop in their tracks and gives me moonie faces and not even walk with me to the door. LOL!

    you can work on WAIT exercises near the door, where you tell ranger to wait, you leave and close the door behind you, wait 1 second, then return and praise and treat.* then, increase the time to 2 seconds, etc.* until he can handle being shut out for longer and longer periods, always reinforcing the act of nicely waiting for your return.* it is very likely that he will try scratching at the door.* when ranger does this, you must not respond in any way.* no talking, no opening the door.* when he stops, then you open the door, but no rewards.* backtrack to the last time duration that ranger was able to wait and try again.

    the other thing you could do is redirect his energy toward a yummy stuffed kong just to keep him busy.

    i don't know what to tell you about the arrival and ranger getting too excited and scratching at the door.* developing a stronger ability to WAIT may help, but whoever is on the other side of the door with ranger will have to motivate him to do this or anything else for that matter.* scratching at the door has to become ineffective.* if ranger can learn that not touching the door makes the door open, then your problem will go away.

    taylor is the champion of waiting.* my dogs are crated when both me and my su are gone.* when we get home, the dogs are rearing to go and so excited.* the first thing we always do is let them out to potty.* taylor is my little spitefire, and she would bounce off the walls if she could, and she has a VERY strong urge to push and bolt out the door to run like mad and by chance catch a critter off guard, but i trained her to wait even long after the door has been opened, and she will sit and whine and fidget, but she will wait until released, because she has learned that waiting gives her passage through the door and usually gets her good things like playing chase, fetch, or a treat.* besides passage through the door, taylor doesn't expect anything else for waiting anymore.* i think she does it just because that's what she is used to doing.* when my hand touches the door knob, and i don't open the door right away, she thinks it's her fault, so she plants her butt on the floor and waits for the door to open, and waits for the release even without the wait command.* if i don't acknowledge her in any way and turn the door knob and immediately open the door, she is out faster than i can blink.

    i feel like i'm not really being helpful, because i'm trying to give you idea on a problem that i have never had to resolve.

    when luke wants the front door open, he nudges the bell with his nose.* if he REALLY has to potty, he swings his head back and forth to ring the bell rather dramatically over and over again.* when luke wants to leave the bedroom and the door is shut, he'll come nudge me, walk to the door, and look back at me.* or he'll nudge the door knob and look back at me to see if i'm paying attention.

    when taylor wants doors open, she puts her nose in the crack where the door meets the door frame and make an audible sniffing sound or she'll come and give me a prolongued look and or paw me over and over again.

    whenever luke or taylor give me these behaviors, i have consistantly responded with opening the door, so for them, these behaviors have been reinforced and that's what they do to get results.

    i'm sorry for being so long winded.* bottom line, you must either restrict his access to the door or teach him that scratching at the door is no longer effective by letting him scratch and not ever again opening the door, not until he gives you an alternate behavior that you can recognize through the other side of the door.*
    either by sight or sound, you should only open the door if ranger gives you an alternate behavior that is in direct conflict with scratching at the door. maybe you could attach bells to something a few feet away from the door and have him ring those bells before you open the door?

    "Properly trained, a man can be dog's best friend." ~ Corey Ford

  10. #8
    rangersmom is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Scratching the heck out of doors

    No no - loved the long post!! Thanks for taking the time to write it. I have learned a lot from you and FallsRiver about the indirect training...and have been applying it - also have gone through the dogscout website and just printed out some things that I want to do (off subject: they have a lot of links that are down).

    I have taught Ranger the wait command very early on...he is so dang smart. I can't get over labs and how naturally brilliant they are. Anyway - he waits for food (and now I make sure he makes eye contact with me before the release) and he waits at the front door before going out....sitting for the leash and then sitting for the leash to be removed. Been using the indirect method and he gets it now...sometimes I remind him....he isn't sitting and he is looking at the door...and I say..."I'm waiting for you"...he looks at me and then sits!!! Stays sitting as I open the door or the door gets closed and we start over. I'm loving it!!! Because one of my biggest pet peeves with big dogs is them hurling through a door and knocking over people.

    He does well when I am actually THERE with him...it's when I am not - he is too excited. I think I will do some preventive stuff because it is just due to him being young and wanting to be with me. I work from home...so the little guy is with me 95% of the time. And follows me everywhere. I leave the bathroom door open a crack so he can come in even when I shower.

    I will start to teach commands of bye,bye - GREAT idea. I don't like to make a big production of leaving or coming - but I know that isn't what you are talking about. Ranger is so smart that I don't "trick" him when I leave. He does better knowing that I am going...and he can't come. He seems to be okay with that.

    I'm going to work on the WAIT exercises with him on a closed door. Hopefully he won't destroy the door in the process. haha. Thanks for your repsonse.
    .................................................. ...................................<br />check out my baby&#039;s blog: http://rangerthelab.com<br /><br />

  11. #9
    luke from georgia is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Scratching the heck out of doors

    Quote Originally Posted by rangersmom
    also have gone through the dogscout website and just printed out some things that I want to do (off subject: they have a lot of links that are down).
    i noticed that, too, but then i found that if i click on the one of the main menu options, i get to this page:
    http://www.dogscouts.com/leadership/...html#education

    which has working links to the specific topics that have bad hyperlinks to the last menu option.

    good luck with ranger and his door scratching. i hope you will find something that helps.


    "Properly trained, a man can be dog's best friend." ~ Corey Ford

  12. #10
    imported_MilesMom is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Scratching the heck out of doors

    Well, you may need to crate him when he needs to be on the other side of the door from you for some reason. As in your example, you need to feed the other dogs outside. Put Ranger in his crate, go outside, do what you need to do, go back in and let him out. If you want to be in another room, alone for whatever reason, crate him. There is nothing wrong with that. It preserves your belongings and keeps him safe. My vet explained to me there are 3 times you crate a puppy 1)when you are not at home 2) when you are sleeping 3) when you are home and awake but unable to supervise his behavior because you are busy doing something else. You will likely need to do this until you can teach him not to scratch the doors. If you are in the same room he is in, you can reprimand him when he does that and can reward a proper request to get out. If you are not in the same room he is in, you have no choice to reward the behavior by opening the door in order to stop it, which is why the crate is needed when you must be in a separate room from him.
    <br /><br />Grand River Run Genaration &quot;Miles&quot;&nbsp; CGC RN, RL1, RL2, RA, CW-SR, C-OB1, RL1X, RL3, RE

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