Dog Door Dashing by Steffi Trott |Published 05-20-2021
Is your pup one who likes to run out the door whenever he gets the chance? This habit is not only frustrating, but also very dangerous. If he does not come back when called, he could run into a road and get hit by a car, or chase after wildlife and not find his way back home.
It is crucial to teach every dog basic obedience and that running out the door is not ok, open front door is not an invitation to charge outside!
Fortunately, it is not that hard to teach a dog to not run out the door, even if he already has a history of this behavior. Let’s discover how you can get your pooch to wait politely in front of every doorway.
During the retraining process you cannot yet rely on your dog’s new skills. It is very important that you keep him from racing out the door until he is well-trained. Putting up a baby gate in your entry area works best to achieve this.
It is an inexpensive and immediate solution to the problem of having your dog run away. Of course, our eventual training goal will be for him to stay inside at all times, not only if he sees a gate. But on our way to get there, we will need to keep him safe!
You should strive to work on this daily. Just a few minutes every day are sufficient - if you can commit to working with your dog every day, he should stop the door dashing in a week or two.
Try to plan to work with him during times of the day when he is calm and not wound up. Don’t train at times when your dog is usually very agitated, like just before dinner - then he would be much more likely to fail and the session won’t be a success.
This training is done without a leash. That is very important. If you use a leash to hold your dog back from running out the door, he won’t understand that he should stay - instead he only knows that the leash pressure keeps him from racing outside.
Stand next to your front door with your dog and some treats.
1. Open the door just a little bit (an inch or two is good to start with!). Your dog will likely try to escape. Immediately close the door again as your dog is moving towards it. This will all happen very quickly, in the span of a couple seconds.
2. Your dog will probably stand at the door and wonder what just happened. As long as he is staring at the door, do nothing. Eventually he will give up, turn around, sit down or wander away.
3. Now you open the door again just a few inches. The same process as above will probably ensue - your dog dashes towards the door, you close it immediately, he wonders what happened.
4. The more you repeat this, the less effort your dog will put towards dashing to the door - as he is learning that it somehow magically closes every time that he approaches it.
5. Eventually, he might look at you for guidance. At this moment you can ask him to sit, and reward him with your treats when he does so. Try to open the door just a little bit as he is sitting. If he stays sitting - give him many treats. If he gets up and runs towards the door, give him many treats and tell him what a great dog he is.
Every time you practice, you will be able to open the door just a bit wider. Within two weeks of daily training you should be able to open it all the way and have your dog wait patiently instead of charging towards it.
Note: There are no verbal cues needed for this training. In fact, you do not want your dog to require a verbal cue to not run out the door. The open door itself should tell him: Stop. One day you might accidentally leave it open when carrying in the groceries, or the wind blows it open - in this case you might not be there to tell your dog to stop.
If you own two or more dogs, you need to do this training individually with every one before working with them all together. It is impossible to train several dogs well at the same time. They each need some one-on-one work first before you can have a shared training session.
Once you taught them all to not run out the door individually, it will be easy to have them both not run out together.
If you own more than two dogs, you want to add dogs to the training group one by one. Train them all by themselves yet, then work with two dogs in front of the door, then three dogs, and so on.
Teaching your dog to wait in front of open doors is crucial for good manners and your pup’s safety. Most owners make the mistake to grab their dog’s collar or leash and pull them back from the door, which can actually increase his desire to pull against the restrain and try to dash out.
The right way to teach your dog to wait is by showing him that every time he races towards an open front door, it magically closes. You will need many repetitions of opening the door a few inches and immediately closing it again as soon as your dog approaches. Over time, you introduce a sit and stay cue in addition to this. If you work with your dog daily, he will be able to wait in front of the door within two weeks. Make the commitment to change his behavior today, stick to the plan and be rewarded with a well-behaved dog in a short while!
If you own several dogs, you need to teach them to wait individually first before letting them all participate in shared training sessions.
Steffi Trott is a dog trainer at SpiritDog Training and a hopeless dog enthusiast! She is an energizer bunny who loves everything related to animals, the outdoors and of course training. SpiritDog Training provides dog training in Albuquerque and online.