How To Stop Dog From Running Out The Door

Teaching your dog to stop running out of the door could be a life saving skill for him. You would certainly not take the risk of your dog dashing out of the door (if you have not put him on a leash), chasing after the cars and meet with an accident.

To stop your dog from running out of the door, you would have to make him feel that the distractions happening outside are not as rewarding as staying by your side. Reward him with a high value treat to make him see your value and proceed with the 3 STEPS training. This will make him pay attention to you.

Having him trained on impulse control and to wait for your clue to walk past the door will be an essential skill that you had to teach him.

The goal will be to train him to hold a sitting position in front of an open door and wait for you to tell him that it’s okay now to go.

You see, the world outside that door is going to be very enticing to your dog (there are moving vehicles, pets and people moving around) and he will get excited the moment you open the door. 

The way to make him stop dashing out of the door is to make him associate that you are much more rewarding and exciting than what is happening outside so that he will stay focused on you and ignore those stimuli happening outside.

To make you more valuable, you have to entice him with some tempting treats that he cannot resist. Treats (Meat types) such as chicken and salmon will be an ideal choice to go for.

So get ready some high value treats and proceed with the 3 steps training (“Stay”, “Leave It” and “Look At Me”) to stop your dog from running out of the door.

Teach Him “Stay” Command

Start this training by making your dog perform a sit position. While he is in this position, slowly move a few steps (maybe 3 steps) away from him and say the “Stay” command.

I would suggest that you incorporate hand signals as well in your training as dogs are usually much better at comprehending your body language than vocal.

If your dog stays put and remains in sit position, reward him with a high value treat. This is to help him associate “sit” position with good things, that is, he will be rewarded. 

But if your dog starts to move the moment you take a few steps back, you will need to move fewer steps, (maybe just one step away from him) and reward him if he remains in a sit position.

Do this training in a less distracting environment (I would suggest in your room) as you would want your dog to pay his full attention to you.

As he is progressing well with the training, you could slowly increase the steps away from him while giving him the “Stay” command.

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Teach Him “Leave It” Command

The next essential command to train your dog after the “Sit” will be the “Leave It”.

This command will be extremely useful when you want him to ignore the distraction that is happening in front of him.

Start by training him to back off from some minor distraction (maybe drop a kibble on the floor) and as he learns to react appropriately, you can then proceed with more challenging distractions that are happening outside the door.

Say for example, when you open the door, your dog sees a cat running past, and he might be tempted to give chase. You can then use this command “Leave It” to make him stay put and focus his attention on you.

Do this training in your room first and as he progresses well, then you can continue the training near the door.

Start by throwing a kibble on the floor and give your dog the “Leave It” command to make him ignore this treat.

If your dog did not immediately reach out for the kibble, praise him using markers such as “Good Job!” and give him a high value treat. The goal is to make him associate ignoring the distraction with getting a more rewarding treat from you. 

In case your dog reaches out for a treat instantly, you would want to make use of hand signals to assist you with the training.

Make good use of hand signals to catch his attention as you toss the kibble on the floor. The moment he looks at you, reward him with a much better treat (meat type of treat usually is more enticing as it certainly smells and taste better) than kibble to make him feel that it is worth paying his attention to you rather than going after his distraction.

Teach Him To Look At You – Calling His Name

Getting your dog to stay focused and look at you in the midst of all distractions going around him is going to be difficult. But this is certainly something that your dog needs to master! 

The goal is to make your dog feel that you are going to be the most exciting and rewarding moment for him despite all the stimuli that are happening around him so that he will turn to you when you call him.

To carry out this training:

1. Get ready a high value meat type of treat on your hand.

2. Toss his favorite toy on the floor and call out his name. If he ignores your calling and goes for his toy, grab his attention using the treat in your hand.

3. The enticing smell of the treat is likely going to catch his attention and the moment he looks at you, call out his name again and give him the reward.

4. Keep training him till he learns to ignore the toy and give you his attention the moment you call his name.

5. Once you find that he is reacting well to your name-calling, you can increase the difficulty by training him near the door.

Put Into Practise: Train Your Dog Near The Door

After you have trained your dog on the “Stay”, “Leave It” and “Look At Me” commands, it’s time to further enhance the training by introducing your dog to the actual stimuli – the world outside the door.

It’s likely that your dog might still have that impulse to run out of the door so make sure that he is on a leash and harness, just to prevent him from any accidents.

You see, the outside world is certainly going to be much more enticing than what is happening in your house. You would just need to continue the training and make him believe that you are his most valuable and exciting moment and make him always place his attention on you.

Do the training in steps:

1. Bring your dog near the door and make him sit down and give him a treat first. This is just to let him know that you are generous with the reward, and he should pay his attention to you. This will get him into training mode.

2. Toss a treat to the floor and give him the “Leave It” command and if he did not go for the treat, praise him “Good Boy!” and give him the treat.

3. This is to get your dog’s eye on you when he is facing distraction. (In this case, the distraction would be his favorite toy).

4. Say “Stay” to your dog and reach out to the door knob (just put your hand on the knob) without turning it.

5. Watch out for the reaction from your dog and if he starts to get excited, reward him with a high value treat.

6. When he is reacting well, start making turns on the knob and reward him for being calm.

7. If he “passes” these steps, give him the “Stay” command and proceed to slightly open the door and for about 1 seconds and close it. Reward him if he remains in the stay position.

8. Repeat the training and as your dog is reacting well, open the door wider and longer to train your dog to stay put till you give him the release command to move.

9. As you open the door wider, your dog will likely going to stand up as he will be getting excited about what’s happening behind the door.

10. If he does stand up and shows signs of excitement, give him the “Stay” command again. You could also apply a bit of tension on the leash to get his attention while giving him the command.

11. When you feel that he is reacting well to the door opening, it’s time to stimulate some attractions out of the door.

12. Toss a toy out of the door and give him the “Leave It” command. This is to make sure that he stays his focus on you and not dashing out of the door to chase the toy.

13. If you find that he is not reacting well to your command, that is, he is staring at the toy and not giving you his attention, call out his name to get him to look at you.

14. The moment he turns his view on you, give him the high value treat immediately. Keep training him on this approach to have him associate paying attention to you is more rewarding and exciting than his distraction.

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Things To Keep In Mind

In your training, always keep in mind that your goal is to make sure that your dog doesn’t fail twice in a row. That is, if your training is to make your dog remain in sit position when you open the door, but he dashes out instead, this will be your first failed attempt.

You would then have to scale down the difficulty of the training (maybe just slightly opening the door rather than fully opening the door) to ensure that you see success in this second attempt of training him to make him remain in sit position.

The reason why this is important is because if your dog is able to make his way out repeatedly on his 2 attempts, he will register that as a positive experience and this will increase the difficulty of your training.

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