How to Teach Your Dog Not to Rush Out the Door


For some dogs, an opened door is an invitation to rush through before it closes.

For us, it’s frightening to watch our pet bolt across the yard and disappear out of sight, or head towards a road with a car bearing down on them. Cheyenne, my Siberian Husky, looked for any chance to escape through the front door, and I developed a technique to use when someone rang the doorbell. Cracking the door open so I could block it with my body, I stood on one leg and used the other one to keep her away. She just wanted to go for a run, but there are other reasons why dogs fly out an opened door. Fortunately, I found a better technique than the one-legged dance to teach my dog not to rush through the door.

Why dogs try to escape out the front door

Dogs are individuals, and some are more adventurous and independent than others. Working breeds, terriers, scenthounds and sighthounds were bred to do their jobs away from their human, and are likely to bolt out a door to run down an interesting scent or chase an animal they see. Some dogs may be focused on finding a mate. If that’s the case, spaying or neutering your pet may help reduce a desire to wander. A fearful dog may see an opened door as a way to escape what he fears. Homes with multiple dogs might charge the open door as a competition to see who can get outside first, and some dogs enjoy the “game” of their owner frantically chasing them down the street.
Regardless of why a dog tries to escape out an opened door, it’s our responsibility to make sure he isn’t successful – for his safety and your piece of mind. Bolting out a door can result in your dog getting lost or stolen, injured from a fall, eating something toxic, fighting with another dog or wild animal, biting someone or being hit by a car.

How to teach your dog not to rush out an opened door

Changing your dog’s behavior can take some time, so be patient and consistent. Even if the door leads to his enclosure, teach him it’s not acceptable to charge through any opened door. Begin with a way to prevent your dog from rushing the door while you teach him how you want him to behave. Keep a leash by each door and attach it to his collar before opening the door. A dragline attached to a harness can also be helpful. It’s long, won’t catch on furniture, won’t choke him, and can be easily picked up when necessary. Temporary fencing and a pet gate are other solutions to help contain your pet during training. Keep in mind, though, that some dogs can and will jump over gates and fencing.

Wait command

Teach your dog to sit or lie down and wait until you give him a command to go through the door. To begin, attach a leash to his collar or harness, ask him to sit or lie down, then put your hand on the doorknob. If he jumps up as soon as you touch the knob, say “Uh oh” or “Oops” and remove your hand. Ask him to sit or lie down and try again. It won’t take long for him to get the idea that the door remains shut if he stands up. Reward him with some tasty CANIDAE treats when he does what you ask. Keep training sessions short and finish by giving him an “OK” or “Go” command and let him exit through the door. Then go for a short walk or play with him in the yard.

Continue practicing with his leash or dragline on, opening the door a little wider each time, until he stays in a sit or down position with the door wide open. Wait a few seconds before telling him to get up. If he gets up before you give him permission say “Uh oh” or “Oops” to help him understand he made a mistake. When he reliably waits until you give him the OK to get up, then you can move on to working with him without a leash or dragline.the OK to get up, then you can move on to working with him without a leash or dragline.

If you want him to sit in a designated area away from the door, have him wait there. Stand in front of the door so you can block the way out and shut the door quickly if needed. Use this exercise for any door, including your car door, that gives your pet access to the outdoors.

Make sure everyone in the family, including children, pays attention to where your dog is before opening an outside door, and knows the commands to keep him from rushing out on his own. His wellbeing depends on you teaching him how you want him to behave.

Blog Credit: /By Linda Cole

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