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Dog scratching up front door


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Our 1 year old lab scratches at the front door when she wants to come in the house. Our current door looks like dump anyway so I never really cared. Now I want to replace the door but dont know how to keep the dog from destroying it.

Preferably I would like her to give one little bark when she wants to come it but I would settle for about anything right now!

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Sounds like the dog has YOU trained to open the door when it scratches...

You're going to have to re-condition her so that she figures out that the scratching will not work to get your attention anymore -- she needs to try something else. You'll have to do this by IGNORING the behavior that you don't want (scratching) and rewarding (opening the door) EXACTLY when she does the behavior that you do want (in this case, a bark). Timing is really important here, as she'll need to learn that the bark is what got the door opened for her...not the scratching.

This is a variation of the type of training that I use with my dog -- ignore what you don't want and then mark and reward what you do want the very instant it happens. And when I say "ignore" I really mean it -- no scolding or reaction of any kind. Sometimes with dogs, any kind of attention is good attention, so you need to really, truly ignore what she's doing until she does what you want. Suddenly scolding or yelling at her for doing something that's been OK for her entire life is just going to confuse and frustrate her, and could lead to more destructive behaviors. This way, she's not really doing anything wrong, but she learns when she's done something right.

This isn't necessarily as easy as it sounds. It's going to take patience, practice, and consistency on your part (and everyone else in your house) to not let her in when she scratches. That behavior simply has to stop working for her, and she's going to have to try something else to get you to let her in. She might figure out right away that a bark works, or she might try other (potentially destructive) behaviors to get you to open the door. Just be diligent about only letting her in if/when she barks, and the scratching should eventually stop.

Good luck!

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