Dog Safety: How to Make a Door-Dashing Dog Heel
For dog owners, there is possibly no feeling worse than when their dog rushes out the door. If you’re concerned about dog safety and your dog likes to dash out the door when you’re not looking, this post is for you.
Why Do Dogs Dash?!
I recently heard from a friend—he called me a few days ago and the frustration in his voice was clearly audible—that his golden retriever had a close call with a car. He opened the door that morning to grab the paper and his dog, Max, practically leaped over him as he was bending over. The door was only open for a moment, but that was all the time Max needed to dash and almost get run over by a car. Max is okay, but he gave my friend (and the driver) quite a scare.
To curb this type of behavior, it’s critical to understand why dogs like to dash. While there is no fix-all answer, the usual culprit is plain old boredom. A lack of physical and mental activity leads to many types of bad behavior in dogs, door-dashing being just one of them.
Practicing Dog Safety by Training for Better Behavior
I told my friend that he needed to provide his dog with more stimulation. He admitted to me that he had foregone the usual early morning walk, instead letting his dog do his business in the fenced-in back yard. Unfortunately, once a behavior is learned, you have to make an effort to train your dog to stop doing that behavior. While exercise and play will tire your dog out and satisfy their curiosity, you never know when they are going to try to dash again.
Toward that point, here are a few steps that you can take to help your dog unlearn door dashing so that you can rest easy knowing that your dog safety efforts are up to snuff:
Step 1: Condition Default Behaviors
If your dog likes to dash, you need to start cultivating some automatic behaviors that your dog associates with doors. The goal is to condition him to associate the sight of a door with sitting. So, the door is your dog’s first cue to put their rump on the rug. Also try adding a vocal cue, such as “sit,” so that you can control your dog’s behavior on command.
Begin small. Start carrying some of your dog’s food around with you, and every time he sits, reward him. It doesn’t matter where he sits. You’ll start noticing that your dog seems to like sitting a lot more than usual. Next, you want to start associating sitting with the area around any door your dog goes near. Start rewarding your dog only when he sits next to a door.
Step 2: Let Your Dog Train You
Once you have a regular door-sitting champ on your hands, it’s time to start rewarding your dog by opening those doors for him. This gives your dog a feeling of control. Allow him to wield it indoors first by closing doors that are usually open.
Step 3: Practice, Practice, Practice
It’s now time for some on-leash practice. You can now move to doors that lead outside, but it’s also fine to continue training with the leash indoors. Start using a command such as “let’s go” to signify that it’s okay to move through the door. If your dog starts to move before the command, use the leash to hold him back, and then close the door. Open the door and use the command again. Repeat until your doggy waits for the command to start walking. Once your doggy starts to regularly sit and heed your commands before moving, you can then move to the final step of off-leash training. Continue what you’ve learned without the harness!
Want a Calmer Dog?
Training your dog to behave better around doors is so important. Without this dog safety precaution, your doggy could be badly hurt. As mentioned above, dogs that don’t receive enough stimulation throughout the day are more likely to act out. If you want your doggy to have a fun-filled, tiring day, bring him over to Doggies Gone Wild and try our doggy daycare service.
Calm your dashing dog by letting him play all day at Doggies Gone Wild. Try us for free!