Door Dashing Prevention Tips

Door Dashing Tips

If your dog is a "door dasher" not only are they endangering themselves by running unrestricted when they could be hit by a car or encounter an aggressive animal, or even be stolen or picked up by animal control, but they are also endangering others because they could knock over a small child or an elderly person, or run into someone else's yard and do damage. This is a behavior that needs to be prevented and changed. 

There are many different ways to train dogs to perform desirable behaviors. The steps listed below are among several that can be used to successfully teach your dog not to dash out open doors.

The most effective and humane training method, and the one I always recommend, involves setting your dog up for success, using positive reinforcement to train the behaviors you want to see more of, and ignoring (not punishing) undesirable behaviors.

Very Important: All dogs, especially escape artists, should be wearing an up-to-date ID collar or tag at all times

With a dog who dashes, the first order of business is to put an immediate and permanent stop to your pet's ability to scoot out the door. This means gaining the cooperation of everyone in the household, and all visitors to your home.

1. Doorknob rule. A technique many people use is the dog-doorknob rule. Everyone living in and visiting your home should be trained not to turn the doorknob until they know where the dog is, and insure she can't get loose and get to the door.

The door should never be opened until the dog is secure, which means confined in another room, on a leash someone is holding, or reliably following a verbal command to "stay" or "wait."

2. Secure the yard. If you have a fence around your yard or a driveway gate, make sure to close and even lock any access points so that in the event someone breaks the doorknob rule, you've got a second opportunity to corral your escapee before he disappears down the street.

3. Leash rule. Until your dog is trained not to run out the door, keep a leash on him at all times throughout the day when someone is due to enter or leave your home. If there tends to be constant activity at your door, it means your dog will be on leash most of the time in the beginning.

Yes, this is a pain, but remember the goal is to put an immediate and permanent stop to your dog's ability to bolt out the door.

4. Before training sessions, take your dog out to relieve himself. Before attempting any at-the-door training, make sure your dog has an opportunity to relieve himself.

If he really needs to go, he might wind up confused about what you want from him, since he's accustomed to charging out the door to go pee or poop — an activity you normally encourage.

5.  Teach a "back" command at the door. While inside your home, grab some training treats and go to the door with your dog. As you open the door, tell him "back." As you give the command, shuffle your feet forward toward him, which should cause him to back up to avoid being crowded.

When he backs up, immediately give him a treat. Repeat this exercise as often as necessary until your dog automatically backs up whenever the door starts to open.

6. Teach a "wait" command at the door. Again, grab some treats, go to the door with your dog, and tell her to sit. Hold a treat close to her nose with one hand, tell her to "wait," and open the door with the other hand. If she stays still, give her the treat and lots of praise.

If she dives for the door, close it, tell her to sit again, and repeat the exercise. Continue training the "wait" command until she sits and waits at the door reliably.

Dog Wait Command7. Teach "back" and "wait" at every door. Don't assume once your dog is consistently following "back" and "wait" commands at one door that he'll do the same at another door. Habituate him to the behavior at all entrances to your home by practicing at each door a couple of times a day.

8. Introduce distractions. Once your dog is reliably obeying your commands at each door, clip on her leash, grab some treats, and begin introducing distractions so that you can teach her to pay attention to you in a distracting environment.

For example, have people arrive at the door to greet you while she waits beside you. Bring her to the door for package or mail deliveries. Ask a neighbor or friend with a dog to stand on the sidewalk or curbside in front of your house, and open the door so your dog can see them.

9. Never let your guard down. Preventing escapes and training your dog to behave properly at the door should extinguish most door-dashing behavior. However, it's impossible to extinguish your pet's natural curiosity, nor would you want to. So it's important to never let your guard down when it comes to your adventurous canine companion and open doors.

Source: Dr. Karen Becker


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