No matter the size of the dog, calm and courteous threshold exercises at the car door, crate door, house door, before a flight of stairs, and everywhere else that we need to pause and check out a dog’s impulse control and polite manners is one of the keys to success in the moment and create a pattern of impulse control that flows over into the rest of the dog’s life.
Far too often overexcited and reactive small dogs are getting a free pass to leap and zoom around and even encouraged to do so because it’s ‘cute’, bound in/out of cars and run freely through doorways and thresholds without any kind of impulse control or human leadership because there isn’t a direct consequence in the moment for a dog who’s only 5lbs. They aren’t going to pull you down, smash a door into your nose, or drag you down a flight of stairs so what’s the problem? The problem with neglecting all these mindset correcting opportunities at thresholds, boundaries and other places, is that it patterns the small dog to adopt an overexcited, entitled and mentally aroused mindset that ultimately leads to reactivity and other poor choices elsewhere in the small dogs life like on the leash walk or when the doorbell rings… it’s all very much connected!
If there is one bit of advice that I could give small dog owners it would be to ask themselves if it would be safe and ok with you if you had a Pitbull/Rottweiler/
Mastiff/German Shepherd/etc. doing that on the end of your leash instead of a tiny dog?
In this video, Frankie is showing how we do tiny dog thresholds at the car door! He waits patiently and politely at the the car door or in his basket on the back seat until I’m ready to lift him in or out of the car. Just because I lift him in to protect his fragile legs doesn’t mean that he gets to dance, leap or jump around excitedly. Manners, tiny gentleman! Manners!
We apply the same concept at the crate door, the house door, the yard gate, the stairs, respecting the structure of the heel, the place command and the crate, and basically everywhere we can to leverage as much impulse control as possible in these less complicated situations to cultivate a pattern of courteous behaviour.