What is the elevator etiquette for dogs?

As metropolitan dwellers, we know that the usage of elevators is non negotiable. Here are a few ways you can ensure the safety of your pet and the comfort of those around you when embarking on one of the many vertical voyages in your day.

When waiting for the elevator to arrive, always put your dog in a “Sit” at least 3 feet from the elevator door.  This way your dog will learn to respect the boundaries of the elevator and you will have more control over any surprise interactions when the door opens.

As the door opens, make sure your dog waits for your command (“Ok”, “Release”, “Go Ahead”) before he/she enters the elevator.  Tell your dog to “Wait” as you take a step forward and check on the elevator occupancy.  If someone is inside (and would like to exit), allow them to pass first. Do not allow your dog to greet without permission as some people and dogs may not be as interested in saying hello.  Once you have waited your turn, release your dog on command, and step inside.

While in the elevator keep your dog in a “Sit” or “Down-Stay”, especially if sharing the elevator with another occupant.  This will prevent your dog from greeting someone without permission since some people/dogs may not be interested in having an elevator play session.  This impulse control activity will also reinforce to your dog that the elevator is a common area and is not their personal play pen.

When you reach your destination floor, again make use of your “Wait” command. Check to see there are no immediate obstacles (human or canine) before exiting into the hallway, then release your dog to follow.

Finally, make sure all elevator experiences with your dog are fun and happy.  Sharing a space as small as an elevator or elevator entrance/exit is stressful enough with out adding anxiety over the elevator itself.  Offering your dog verbal and physical praise whenever you are going between floors can decrease anxiety and therefore help prevent dog fights during elevator usage.