Does that sound like your dog? He ‘comes when he wants’ and ‘does what he wants’. Well, if that’s the case, trust me, you’re not alone. Many pet parents face this problem with their canine companions and so has Daniel Stevens, renowned author of the great dog training book, SitStayFetch – Dog Training To Stop Your Dog Behavioral Problems!

Here’s what Daniel has to say to someone facing this very problem, maybe his tips can help you out too.


SitStayFetch: Consultation

Dear Mr. Stevens,

I ordered your book last night. Anyway, my problem, or one of them, is, when my dog wants to come in, and I don’t want him to because my toddler is eating (she will throw her food to him), he will scratch the dickens out of my screen door. He then runs into the garage, grabs a shoe, and destroys it, bringing it back to the screen so I will let him in.

I would like him to be able to wait for me to let him in. He is not especially well trained, just basic house training, and comes when he feels like it, because I have made some of the typical mistakes about disciplining him.

I have five children, so the dog is ALWAYS ready to play, and very distracted. He has the “come when he feels like it” mentality. He also will take things inside and chew, but even though I trained him to retrieve and drop, if I have a treat, he won’t give it up.


Adele Hennessy.


SitStayFetch Reply:

Hi Adele,

Thanks for your email. It seems as though your dog has little for your authority – he obviously thinks he is higher in the pack, so doesn’t bother following your commands!

The first thing I would suggest is that you read the use the techniques in the bonus book “Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog”. It is important that you learn how to reinforce your position as Top Dog! If your dog recognizes that you are the boss, he is more likely to respond to your commands every time!

I realize that you must be very busy with such a large family, but I also recommend that you practice obedience training with your dog every day, even if just for 10 mins. If he is easily distracted, use a reward based system, and ask that your children stay away while the lesson takes place, at least in the initial stages. Then once he is responding well, have them join in so that he learns to follow commands from all family members.

Try to teach your toddler and the rest of your family not to throw your dog treats from the table. If he learns that he is not going to get any food, he is less likely to scratch at the door. I also recommend either totally ignoring him when he is scratching to get in, or reprimanding him by squirting him with cold water, and growling. He has obviously learned that if he scratches, or chews something, you will let him in. Only ever let him in when he is calm. Ask him to sit and stay for 5 seconds before letting him in.

He obviously has a lot of energy, so if possible, please exercise him every day. If you do not have time to take him for a walk, perhaps you could ask your oldest child to play a game of fetch or frisbee with him. This will get his heart rate up, and hopefully burn some of his excess energy!

I hope this helps Adele. Good luck, and please let me know how you progress.

Kind regards,

Daniel Stevens and the SitStayFetch Team


For more information and training tips from Daniel Stevens and his great training team, check out SitStayFetch – Dog Training To Stop Your Dog Behavioral Problems!

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