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Behind Closed Doors

This means that under certain circumstances, the animal must be intentionally put behind a closed door. This is a "management technique" meaning that it is controlling the pet's environment.

Reasons for this technique

A) A dog that is not safe at the front door when people first arrive
B) A pet that tries to rush out the door when it is opened
C) A dog or cat that tends to eliminate in a specific area
D) You are having guests over, and don't want the pets involved
E) Many other situations

The goal is to desensitize the dog to confinement behind closed doors, and ideally to teach the dog that confinement can be a good thing.

Canine Barking Behind Closed Doors
Many dogs bark due to either the fact that they are emotionally aroused due to visitors arriving, or they are frustrated by the door barrier, or both. Barrier frustration often leads to barking in dogs, and some dogs will even scratch the door to try to get out. Thankfully cats don't bark and rarely scratch the door.

If either of these situations occur with your dog, it means you have some work to do at another time when the dog is calm.

The goal is to desensitize the dog to confinement behind closed doors, and ideally to teach the dog that confinement can be a good thing. Here are some suggestions and ideas:

1) Begin feeding the dog every meal behind this same barrier, and set a timer to return and release the dog before it finishes its meal and before any barking occurs. 
2) Teach the dog the DOWN-STAY command, then practice it behind a closed door. If the dog gives up the Stay or barks, it means you are going too fast, and have to slow down and practice more.
3) Close the dog behind the door, and stand on the other side PRAISING the dog for being quiet. Gradually space out your praise 5 seconds, 10 seconds, etc. 
4) If the dog barks, knock on the door or make some other sound to confuse or alert the dog, to temporarily interrupt the barking, then immediately praise quiet, and start over. 
5) Once the dog will stay quiet with you on the other side of the door, begin to move away, and come back and release the dog before any barking. 
6) Start with short sessions of 10-20 seconds of being gone and work up to longer periods. 
7) If the door is too large of a challenge, try "Close Tethering" which is described elsewhere.

The overall message needs to be that when a door is closed, the pet should relax and settle down because when the door does open, there will likely be something good that happens.

Rolan Tripp DVM, About The Author

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