One of the most dangerous and frustrating dog behaviors is door dashing. Any dog that runs out the front door is liable to get hit by a car, be attacked by another dog or lost/ stolen and no one wants that! Below we will list a few simple steps to help you get started on eliminating such a dangerous and unwanted behavior. However, it’s important to note that training a dog to reliably wait at the door takes time, consistency, repetition, and patience!
Things you’ll need: collar/ harness, leash, treats, door and dog.
Step #1: In order to make things easier and smoother it’s vital that your dog know a few select behaviors. They should be taught to sit, stay, leave it, and look; if they don’t already know it. If your dog knows these behaviors, then great, step 1 is done! If not, then I recommend taking a level 1 obedience course in order to prepare your dog for this higher-level command.
Step #2: Safety is very important, so make sure to leash your dog up while training them, so that if they do mess up and run out the door and get away. Once your dog is leashed, ask them to sit in front of the door and slowly open the door a few inches. It’s important to do it slowly and not too much because your dog already has established the bad behavior of bolting. So, if they haven’t moved for those few inches, perfect, reward them with a treat! If they did get up then immediately shut the door and put them back in a sit. Ideally we want the dog to constantly be rewarded as opposed to constantly being corrected, so make sure to always set your dog up to succeed!
Step#3: Little by little you can open the door wider and wider, making sure to always reward the behavior of sitting calmly at the door. Having your dog ‘look’ at you during this practice helps keep them focused on you as opposed to the distractions of outside. As your dog becomes better at waiting at the door, you can even start to walk outside and go in to reward your dog for waiting patiently. (Again, make sure to always have your dog on leash for safety!) Always keep your environment in mind, practicing door way manners at one time of the day when it’s quiet is a lot easier then when there are people, dogs or cats strolling by! Reward more frequently for more difficult situations.
Step # 4: Practice, practice, practice! Consistency and repetition are the only ways to make sure your dog has a reliable wait at the door. Always have your dog wait at the doorway for 5-10 seconds every time they want to go out. This sets up a new habit of waiting and should become the default behavior as opposed to immediately running out.
If you have any questions or need extra help, it’s best to have a professional trainer help you. You can join a group class, drop your dog off for daycare/ boarding or have an instructor host a private lesson in your home.