How to Stop a Dog from Running Out the Door

Teach your dog an open door is not an invitation to run free.
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If your dog tries to make a break for it every time you open the door, it’s time for a change. Dashing dogs are not only a danger to themselves; they may injure someone else or cause an accident. Stop his dashing behavior before it starts.

Step 1

Discuss the situation with your entire family. Consistency is key in stopping a dashing dog, and every family member must be on board for the process to work. Adopt a “doorknob” rule: no one is allowed to turn the doorknob until he knows exactly where the dog is. Write the basic rules on a dry erase board and post it near the door as a reminder.

Step 2

Keep the dog on leash any time someone may be entering or leaving your home. It may sound like a pain, but it's necessary until the dog is trained not to run out the door.

Step 3

Close and lock any gates and driveway entrances around your home. Your fence acts as a second line of defense against a dashing dog, and an open gate is an invitation to disaster.

Step 4

Train the dog to “Get back” from the door. Stand near the door with the dog, and tell him “Get back” as you open the door. When you give the command, quickly shuffle your feet forward into the dog’s space. Most dogs hate to be crowded and will back up. Reward him with a small treat when he backs away from the door. Issue the “Get back” command a few times a day, until the dog backs up whenever the door starts to open.

Step 5

Teach the dog a “Wait” command. Walk the dog near the door and ask him to sit. Tell him to “Wait,” and hold a treat near his nose with one hand as you open the door with the other. If the dog stays in place, reward him with a tasty treat. If he tries to run out the door, take the treat away and make him sit again. Continue the “Wait” training every day until your furry friend waits patiently by the door.

Step 6

Repeat the “Get back” and “Wait” commands at every entrance to your home. Dogs are very habitual and may associate the commands with one door but not the others. Work in 10-minute sessions a couple of times a day, until you can take the leash off and your dog stops trying to make a break for the great outdoors.

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