Dog Training/Backdoor Manners
I have a two year old female Standard Poodle. She is very active and playful, but also pretty well mannered and easy to train.
However, I can't seem to break her habit of scratching at the back door to ask to come in. I have tried to get her to bark to come in. I have a glass back door, so when I see her come up, I jump up before she has a chance to scratch and ask her to speak before I open the door. Once she speaks, I open the door and praise her.
Unfortunately, she doesn't seem to be connecting the dots and forming a habit. I think she thinks I am just asking her to speak at the back door, she is getting that I want her to bark every time. She still typically scratches at the door. My trim is completely gauged and scratched, but I don't want to go about replacing it until I have trained that behavior out of her. No sense replacing it when she will just scratch it up again!
Great question, Cate! Are you absolutely certain you want a dog that barks to come inside? What if you need the dog to stay outside while something is going on inside the house? (Exterminator, visitors that don't tolerate dogs, cleaning or construction crew, etc.) If you're sure, then reward the behavior you like by opening the door and have a consequence for scratching - walk away from the door. In the meantime, stop give the cue to "speak". She's got to do that on her own without prompting. Be prepared for an extinction burst - the scratching may get worse before it goes away entirely.
I've successfully trained a few dogs to station themselves on a rug or mat near the back door as a signal to be let inside. With this method, you have to be watchful of when the dog approaches the door, but it will give her something to do instead of scratching. Here's a good article on teaching a dog to go to a mat: http://www.clickertraining.com/node/3308
Please let me know if you have any questions or follow-up comments. Good luck!