Does it matter who goes out the door first?

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Postby smallstream » October 20th, 2009, 11:14 pm

Hi all. I've read quite a few places by quite a few people that it somehow matters who goes in/out a door first. I.e., you have your dog on a leash and are walking out the door. I have 4 dogs, and honestly, they always go ahead of the human holding the leash, because it's always been easier that way. (I admit that they all have a down/stay of about .25 seconds, and also that is because I have never really taught them differently.) Especially when coming back in a door with a dog on a leash and three loose on the other side, this has always worked to keep them where they should be, as opposed to the middle of the street or down the road. What's your thoughts on this?
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Postby iluvk9 » October 21st, 2009, 6:55 am

I was told many times that humans go first. Out the door, down the stairs, out the car door.

Unfortunately, no one has told my four dogs.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » October 21st, 2009, 6:56 am

Inara goes through doorways and up and down stairs before me - she hasn't killed me in my sleep yet. :wink:
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Postby Marinepits » October 21st, 2009, 7:29 am

Yup, same here. My guys usually go out the door first (unless it's raining because then they'll melt :rolleyes2: ), but I do make them do some kind of obedience before they get their collars/leashes put on. And they are NOT allowed to yank me out the door -- if that happens, they go right back inside and do the hated "down-stay" until I release them to try again.
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Postby jcoffey917 » October 21st, 2009, 8:31 am

I go out of the car and out of the door before Cooper- I make him sit and wait until I am out and tell him its ok for him to come out, if he gets up before I say ok, he has to sit and wait again- but I only have one dog so that may be easier than with 4. Forget about the stairs though, he runs up and down a couple times before I get to the top. :|
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Postby maberi » October 21st, 2009, 8:43 am

What you are describing is the dominance theory which basically boils down to the theory that dogs will challenge their owners in attempt to rise in rank, and lead the pack (thus why owners should go through doorways first).

Quite honestly I think the dominance theory is a bunch of hogwash. My opinion? Dogs do what works and because of that, they need a consistent structured environment so they know what is expected of them.

Do my guys go out the door first, down the stairs first, etc...? Sure, but if I tell them to wait at the door or at the top of the stairs they do so until I release them. Not because I'm the pack leader, but because sometimes I have to carry things up or down the stairs or don't want them rushing out the door when I need to get something out of the car. Just my opinion
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Postby hugapitbull » October 21st, 2009, 8:54 am

When it was just Trouble, I worked with her to learn to let me in and out first. She was pretty good about it. Now that we have Duke, and Trouble has the amputation, it is easier for me to take them out with her off leash and him on. At this point in time, I can trust Trouble isn't going out of the yard. To keep him from knocking her over when he is excited to go out, I insist Trouble go out the door first. Duke sits to get his collar and leash on, then he backs away from the door and waits for Trouble to go out. As soon as she is clear of the doorway, he is allowed to go out.
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Postby TheRedQueen » October 21st, 2009, 9:01 am

I'm with Matt...the going out the door first goes back to dominance theory...which is rooted in bad science. It's not true, and it doesn't matter. My dogs are not going to take over the world because they go out first. It's easier for them to go out and get out of the way rather than have a pack of dogs underfoot. They do have to sit before the door opens...(well, some of them do...Xander and Rip, the old guys don't have to sit anymore).
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Postby Marinepits » October 21st, 2009, 9:02 am

hugapitbull wrote:At this point in time, I can trust Trouble isn't going out of the yard. To keep him from knocking her over when he is excited to go out, I insist Trouble go out the door first. Duke sits to get his collar and leash on, then he backs away from the door and waits for Trouble to go out. As soon as she is clear of the doorway, he is allowed to go out.


Excellent point, Shanna. We do something similar with Katy because her balance is SO bad now with the arthritis. She's either first or last in/out the door or up/down the stairs.
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Postby ArtGypsy » October 21st, 2009, 9:08 am

I'll chime in simply to tell you my way, but certainly not because I'm anytime of authority.....

Out the door.........Dar Can go First.
Out the Gate, I make him wait just to work on his "wait"......

In and out of the car? Def. HE HAS TO WAIT first.
In isn't that much of a problem. But I had to crack down on barreling me over the minute that car door was opened.
And even a few weeks ago, despite all the work I did with him, when we went to the Kennel/Boarder, he CLIMBED over the top of me from the back seat, to get out of that 4-runner. Hurt, too... :nono:

I have a seat buckle that I've never used, and I'm thinking that's a much better idea; many times it's easy to take him somewhere, because I'm just getting him out for a ride-along. But If i have to run errands and such, and he smells something? He wants OUT of that Car, and I'm afraid he'll bolt and Run.

My Two Cents.

Oh, and he has to 'wait' and then "look at me", before he's allowed to eat the food I've set down
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Postby katiek0417 » October 21st, 2009, 9:20 am

maberi wrote:What you are describing is the dominance theory which basically boils down to the theory that dogs will challenge their owners in attempt to rise in rank, and lead the pack (thus why owners should go through doorways first).

Quite honestly I think the dominance theory is a bunch of hogwash. My opinion? Dogs do what works and because of that, they need a consistent structured environment so they know what is expected of them.

Do my guys go out the door first, down the stairs first, etc...? Sure, but if I tell them to wait at the door or at the top of the stairs they do so until I release them. Not because I'm the pack leader, but because sometimes I have to carry things up or down the stairs or don't want them rushing out the door when I need to get something out of the car. Just my opinion


TheRedQueen wrote:I'm with Matt...the going out the door first goes back to dominance theory...which is rooted in bad science. It's not true, and it doesn't matter. My dogs are not going to take over the world because they go out first. It's easier for them to go out and get out of the way rather than have a pack of dogs underfoot. They do have to sit before the door opens...(well, some of them do...Xander and Rip, the old guys don't have to sit anymore).


Yep, agree with both. My dogs tend to go out the door first, etc. Like Jen (Marinepits), however, they have to sit for collars/leashes
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Postby TheRedQueen » October 21st, 2009, 9:26 am

Marinepits wrote:
hugapitbull wrote:At this point in time, I can trust Trouble isn't going out of the yard. To keep him from knocking her over when he is excited to go out, I insist Trouble go out the door first. Duke sits to get his collar and leash on, then he backs away from the door and waits for Trouble to go out. As soon as she is clear of the doorway, he is allowed to go out.


Excellent point, Shanna. We do something similar with Katy because her balance is SO bad now with the arthritis. She's either first or last in/out the door or up/down the stairs.


I do the opposite with Inara and Xander...because of Xander's bum leg. We let Inara out first, because she'll try and lie in wait for him. So she goes out first, and I make her go down the stairs out back...then Xander goes out. If she goes out second, she'll rush down the stairs and knock him over because she's a bitch. :rolleyes2:
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Postby madremissy » October 21st, 2009, 10:17 am

The best thing I did was to teach Kinzyl to sit before I put her leash or lead on. Then she sits when it is taken off. It is so much easier to hook and unhook, especially if I have something in my hands. I will let her go out the door first. It is easier that way. She does wait in back seat of truck for me to open her door so she can get out that way. She is very good about that. Gotty, however is still in training with this one. :crazy2:
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Postby LMM » October 21st, 2009, 10:42 am

Yes the dominance theory, sounds familiar :rolleyes2: The trainer who gave my mom some crap advice when she was having issues with Molly and Mojo believes in it.

My dogs go out the back door in a heap, every single morning, no problems yet. In fact, Junie rides the wave of hairy backs in her haste to pee :dance:

Having said that, if I tell them to wait, they wait. If I tell them to sit (I occasionally do) before they go out, they do. And if I have them go out one dog at a time, they do that too.
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Postby DemoDick » October 21st, 2009, 4:35 pm

Not every part of "dominance theory" is crap. It is a bad idea to allow an already pushy dog to barge through a door in front of you, as it can reinforce other pushy behaviors. It's not going to teach him that he's in charge per se, but it certainly can be a symptom of an out of whack relationship. Usually, the problem is not created by letting the dog go out the door first, but another underlying problem.

If a dog is in need of boundaries, we will include teaching him to wait for permission before exiting the house. If everything is generally in order letting him walk through the door (not pull, but walk) first is a non-issue.

As always, the most important thing is how the dog sees it.

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Postby amazincc » October 21st, 2009, 5:49 pm

Sepp and Daisy have to sit/wait while I put on leashes and open the door. They usually go out ahead of me... it's more practical that way. lol
Faust, who hasn't done much leash-walking (because I now have a HUGE yard and I'm lazy :oops: ), and has become very pushy lately, has to sit/wait... and I go out first. If I allow him to barrel out of the door first it's usually a sign of "things to come" on a walk... he will jump, run, try to drag me down the street, etc. - any manners go completely out the window. :rolleyes2:
I think it's a matter of teaching manners/self-control/obedience... I don't so much want to "dominate" my dogs, but I do want them to have good manners. :)
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Postby smallstream » October 21st, 2009, 8:27 pm

Thanks so much for everyone's input. I've always figured, if it works, we're good. To me, raising/living with dogs is a lot like with human children. There's a million opinions and theories on the "right way," but there's no such thing as ONE TRUE WAY to do it. Some days I really wish there were. ;)
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Postby Dan+Bec13 » October 22nd, 2009, 9:50 am

Personally I like to to sit Maddie first and give her the stay command before she goes out a door. I like to check and see what maybe on the other side first like the neighbors dog or anything that could be hazardous. Also I've heard too many stories of someone opening a door and the dog shooting out and into the street. That just scares me too much. I don't think it's a big deal who goes first out the door, unless it's multiple dogs and one might get a bad attitude with another, but I would get your pup calm and sitting before the door is opened just to be safe.
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Postby AshleyJade » October 22nd, 2009, 12:08 pm

We have four dogs in the house too. It depends on what we are doing if they have to wait. If they are on a leash, they all wait, except for Jett (the border collie) who has zero leash manners (i've avoided them actually, because of SAR). It's not a dominance theory thing, but more so that we can keep control of all 4 (two of the dogs are my mom's) at the same time. If we don't, it sets a tone, and tend to have manner problems on walks. It also helps enforce crate behavior when they are coming in and out of the crates in the truck. Sadie (my pit) has NO off lead recal, so i like to make sure that she doesn't bolt as soon as i open the crate door to come out of the truck. And also so they dont smash into the crate door as soon as I open the truck door, and i have to time to open the wire door along with the truck door, lol. Jett and Sadie have both done that before.

I believe that it's a case of "whatever works for you" though.
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Postby furever_pit » October 23rd, 2009, 9:05 pm

DemoDick wrote:Not every part of "dominance theory" is crap. It is a bad idea to allow an already pushy dog to barge through a door in front of you, as it can reinforce other pushy behaviors. It's not going to teach him that he's in charge per se, but it certainly can be a symptom of an out of whack relationship. Usually, the problem is not created by letting the dog go out the door first, but another underlying problem.

If a dog is in need of boundaries, we will include teaching him to wait for permission before exiting the house. If everything is generally in order letting him walk through the door (not pull, but walk) first is a non-issue.

As always, the most important thing is how the dog sees it.

Demo Dick


Agreed. Doing this and the whole NILIF bit really helped with Dylan when he was younger. I am not strict about it now because Dylan understands his role here. But I don't think it is necessary for every dog.
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