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Train Your Dog to Patiently Await Command to Jump into Car

Updated on July 3, 2019
Lorra Garrick profile image

I've had two beloved family members in my life: a half German Shepherd, half Great Dane, and a pure-white German Shepherd.

You can train your dog to wait for a command to jump into a car – if you have a little bit of patience. My parents had a German Shepherd and never trained the dog to wait for the car door to fully open before jumping in.

The dog was already trying to get in the car before the door was opened, and he’d be half-scrambled up into the seat before the door was completely open. Not liking this lack of patience, I decided to train the dog to patiently wait for the car door to be opened.

When the dog saw the car, he went crazy and pulled towards it in the parking lot. If the car was in the garage and the dog was let into the garage, he bounded for the car and waited at the door standing rather than sitting patiently.

The minute the door cracked open, the dog’s head was already trying to get through.

If this all sounds like your dog, here is what you do.

Instruct the dog to sit, before opening the car door. Do not yell or shout. Just keep saying “sit” as often as needed, and do not escalate your voice. A dog should not learn that the only time he should obey a command is when it’s shouted at him.

Reach for the car door handle. If the dog gets up, immediately remove your hand from the handle. Yes – take your hand off the handle.

Tell the dog to sit. Never raise your voice; just be firm and clear. You can use hand signals paired with the sit command, such as facing a palm towards him like a traffic cop.

Reach for the car door handle again. Every time the dog gets up, immediately remove your hand -- NEVER open the door if the dog gets up or even proceeds to get up.

A proceeding to get up disqualifies opening the door just the same. In fact, if the dog simply jerks forward as he would in order to stand up, promptly remove your hand from the car door and repeat the sit command.

The dog must learn that the door is not going to open until he keeps his bottom flat on the ground.

After a number of these trials, graduate on to actually cracking the car door open. Do not yank it open all the way. Open just a tiny bit. Your dog, at this stage, has NOT learned to stay seated while you open a door.

Instead, he has only learned to remain seated when you merely place your hand on the handle. It’s very important to understand this distinction.

Repeat the concept: As you crack the door open just an inch, if the dog reacts just the slightest, close it. Don’t just take your hand away and leave it cracked open. CLOSE it completely and repeat the sit command.

Also, at this next phase, do not open it more than an inch. Going from simply placing your hand on the handle, to all-out swinging open the door, will not work.

When the dog learns to remain seated when you open it one inch, graduate up to maybe six inches. The dog will stand up. Again, CLOSE it and repeat “Sit.” With each incremental increase to wider door-opening, a dog will catch on faster and require fewer trials.

When the Door Is Opened All the Way

The last phase is teaching the dog to remain seated once the door is opened all the way. If he stands up before you give the command to jump in, then CLOSE it and say “Sit.”

The dog is fully trained when he remains seated, while the door is all the way open, and he stays seated, until you give a command to jump into the car.

Additional Points

  • Food is not necessary for this training, as you can see. Patience is.
  • Do not try this training when you are in a hurry to go somewhere. Make sure you have plenty of time.
  • I trained the German Shepherd to wait in just one training session (this breed is a very fast learner), which lasted maybe five minutes.
  • It may take a lot longer with your dog, depending on its baseline level of self-discipline and overall training.

Don’t be alarmed if your newly trained canine forgets the training next time you take him to the car. This is bound to happen, but a refresher course will go much faster than the first training session, and perhaps the third time you take your pet to the car, he will remember the training.

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