Does your dog try to flee every time you open your front door? Though it’s hard for some dogs to resist the temptation to door dash, you can use reward-based training to prevent this dangerous habit.
Managing Door Dashing Behaviour
While you are training your dog to stop running out the front door, it’s best to use physical barriers to prevent it from happening. Every time your dog successfully sneaks past you and runs outside, they’re practicing a self-rewarding behaviour. If your dog has a blast every time they successfully door-dash, they’ll be more inclined to continue that behaviour in the future.
Baby gates come in all shapes and sizes. They can be standalone, pressure mounted, mounted with stick-on hooks, or screwed into the wall. While many dogs can easily jump over gates, having one can, at the very least, slow them down and act as a physical reminder of where they should not cross.
You may want to use a leash or a tie-out to keep your dog from door-dashing while you’re retrieving groceries or greeting guests.
While your ultimate goal may be to prevent door dashing even without a barrier in place, managing your dog’s environment is the first step to breaking unwanted patterns of behaviour.
Barrier Training To Prevent Your Dog From Running Out The Front Door
The entryway to your home is an exciting place for your dog. It’s where you magically appear when you return home. It’s also the direct route to a wonderland of squirrels, other dogs, and passersby.
Barrier training involves teaching your dog to be responsive to you when they’re at the doorway. It can go from being that exciting place to a place where they get wonderful treats and attention just for being there.
When you arrive home, avoid greeting your dog right after you walk through the door, especially if they tend to run up to you or even try to get outside to greet you as you’re walking in.
Instead, greet your dog about one metre from the doorway. This becomes the “appropriate greeting zone”, and you may only give your dog all the love when they’re where they should be.
Proofing Your Dog’s Recall
You may have noticed that while your dog comes in the blink of an eye when you call them for dinner, they won’t listen when they’re in hot pursuit of a squirrel.
Every time you call your dog, offer them a high value treat. Practice everywhere, especially in situations where they are not yet likely to listen while they’re attached to a long line or leash.
You can teach your dog to keep their distance every time you open the door. Put your dog on a leash and tie it to something stable, like a heavy piece of furniture near the doorway. As you reach for the knob, toss treats at your dog. Continue to do so when they successfully stay a respectful distance from the door while it’s open.
It can be helpful to set up a treat jar on a small side table or wall mount near the front door. That way, you can reward your dog every time you notice them acting appropriately at the door. Over time, the doorway becomes a place for your dog to earn treats rather than an escape route.
For many dogs, treats are not as rewarding as a mad dash outside. There are many ways you can circumvent this. You can train them at a further distance from the door, as they may feel too overstimulated to take treats when training too close to it.
You can also use the Premack principle. Work with your dog near the door, and when they redirect their attention to you inside instead of trying to go outside, reward them with a nice walk.
Need More Help With Your Door-Dashing Dog?
Training your dog to stop running out the front door is an advanced skill that may be hard for you to master on your own. Subtle changes in your body language, feelings of frustration, and your dog’s personality can all affect the way they respond to training.
Work with a reward-based dog trainer to finally end your dog’s door-dashing habit. Healthy Houndz Dog Training offers remote private dog training via Zoom that works around your schedule. Book a Discovery call today.