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Door Dashing



Dog Training Behavior Guide

Do you have a dog that rushes the door the instant it's open? IT always makes me wonder what's so terribly exciting out there, but some dogs just cant resist the allure of an open door without some training! Below are some tips to help those dogs.

  • Management! - While not a solution, the situation should be managed using baby gates or other barriers to make sure you dog doesn't dash out the door. Any behavior that is practiced will become permanent and the freedom that comes following door dashing is a strong reinforcer. Do whatever it takes to make sure your dog does not practice the behavior.

  • Make sure your dog gets plenty of time outside - walking the neighborhood, hanging out with you in the front yard, going places, etc. Try taking your dog walking on a long leash (safely, of course) to allow them to feel like they have more freedom. Freedom is a huge motivator. The forbidden is always exciting, so let your dog get comfortable (and bored with) what's on the other side of the door.

  • Train your dog to come when called every time. If you haven't trained your dog reliably to wait at the door, you're going to have to call him or her to come back. This behavior should be trained separate from the "wait at the door" behavior. It should be reinforced with fabulous treats and shouldn't be followed by making your dog come inside. Your dog should think that he or she will get a treat and will be allowed to continue his or her outside fun if he or she comes when called. This needs to be practiced in the area where the door dashing occurs and should be done a long on a long line for safety.

  • Teach you dog to "wait" at the door. Use the steps below.

  1. Have your dog sit far enough from the door that you can open it without hitting him or her

and with enough room for you to body block (step in front of) your dog if he or she tries to go through the door.

  1. Begin by telling him or her to "sit" and then "wait" and then reach for the door. As you are reaching, or as you touch the knob (but without turning it), click and treat if he or she stays still. Repeat this step until he or she's reliable.

  2. If you dog gets up have him or her sit again and tell him or her to "wait" If he or she remains sitting, just remind him or her to "wait". Reaching for the know and then turn it a little. If he or she stays still, click and treat. Repeat this step until he or she is reliable.

  3. Gradually, in very small steps, begin to turn the knob further, start to crack the door, open it a little further, etc. With each step, when your dog is successful, click and treat. Remind him or her to "wait" before beginning each rep. If you dog starts to dart, simultaneously body block your dog and shut the door. Your dog should not get it wrong twice in a row. Try very hard to reduce the difficulty so he or she can continue to be reinforced for waiting.

  4. Once behavior is solid, you can practice you stepping out the door. Each time your dog should be clicked while waiting (on his or her side of the door) and treated on his or her side of the door. All the reinforcement should occur on his or her side of the door. I would not call you dog to come through the door unless on leash.

  5. Eventually, when you dog is very good, begin to drop the verbal cue and hand signal at that door. The "door opening" should be the cue to wait rather than relying on someone to tell him or her to. Treat it just like your earlier practice sessions, but don't say anything to your dog. If he or she starts to go through, body block and shut the door. Dogs are very good at picking up environment cues and they should soon learn that an open door means wait for reinforcement from you rather than dart through!

This can be a scary and frustrating problem. Often problems like that can make you anxious and jumpy, which can cause your dog additional excitement at the door. If necessary, this should be practiced at interior doors (bathroom to bedroom, etc) to master the skill before venturing to the more exciting doors. This should also be practiced on leash for safety or make sure that the area outside is blocked off so your dog can't escape or have fun.


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