DEAR DIDI: My dog runs out the door when I answer it. How do I keep him from doing this? -Doggy Mommy in Manteca
DEAR DOGGY MOMMY: “Door Dashing” is a very serious behavior and I am glad you are addressing the issue. Hundreds of thousands of dogs each year get lost, hit by cars or are captured and kept by strangers each year when they race out the front door or side gates. The front yard is an exciting place in the mind of a dog and who doesn’t want to go to Disneyland? That front door opens and they see an exciting huge area to explore before them and can’t wait to get there! Here are the things I would implement if it was my dog:
1. Protect your dog from himself immediately. He should be on a leash anytime the front door is going to be opened. When a dog has proven that they will ‘door dash’ then don’t give them the opportunity to continue practicing the behavior. They will just get better and faster at it. This is crucial, and although it may seem like a hassle, it will save his life and have him practicing the right behavior.
2. Make sure your dog is microchipped. If the absolute worst case scenario happens and your dog gets loose there will be a way for anyone who finds him to immediately contact you. Many animal shelters give microchipped dogs a longer chance to be found. The animal shelter even offers low cost microchipping. You can also visit a VIP mobile clinic. Visit https://happypet.com/mobile.php to find out more about their schedule and locations.
3. Begin a comprehensive training program with a qualified trainer/behaviorist. ‘Door dashing’ is a symptom of lack of self control on the dog’s part. A good training program will build the dog’s confidence and gives him self control over his impulses. I believe firmly in a solid ‘wait’ command. I never recommend using stay because once you shut the door the dog will probably get up out of the ‘stay’ teaching him he doesn’t really have to ‘stay, ruining the command. Respect based training programs also build a dog’s sense of family and belonging which gives your dog more of a reason to stay home instead of running off.
4. Lastly, a good exercise program that works your dog mentally, as well as, physically will help satiate your dog’s mind. This will reduce the need to seek ‘thrills’ on the other side of that front door. All dog’s should be taught to problem solve and make choices in their behaviors. If they aren’t given things to think about then they will find things to occupy themselves and, generally, those things they find won’t be things you want them to do.
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