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The Door Dashing Dog – DNA or Training?

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Dogs love dashing to the front door and beyond, but that doesn’t mean your pet can’t be trained not to.

Is your inquisitive canine a door dasher? A dog who enjoys the sport of running out the front door, with an emphasis on running?

As a certified professional dog trainer, I hear this from many clients, and I’d have to agree, that this is one canine sport that is common to the species overall. From Chihuahua to Great Dane, dogs love door dashing. Door dashing is yet another reason I created the Out of the Box Dog Training Game – so people can train their dog’s behaviors they want while making it fun!

What’s an inquisitive canine guardian to do? Based on our Inquisitive Canine Top-10 Dog Training Tips, the following few suggestions will help teach important, and sometimes life saving, door etiquette.

First, the mastery of overall basic dog obedience behaviors

  1. Sit, stand or down with a stay at the front door while it’s open (this is the final goal behavior, not what you start with).
  2. Come when called – to back up #1 = “Come over to me please.”
  3. Leave-it! Back-up to first two, which equals “Stop what you’re doing and get over here.”

Steps to reach these goals successfully

  • Teach  sit/down/stand (any will work) with a “stay.”  This goes along with a solid recall (coming when called) and a leave-it! If these behaviors are known already, then add one distraction at a time, not all at once.
    • Create simple baby-steps to ensure setting yourselves up for success!
  • Practice, practice, practice! Dog training is a physical and mental skill (of both human and dog) – as I always say, “Teach the behavior before you need the behavior!”
  • Manage: Use a leash for when you introduce opening the door – this way, just in case something incites a charge out the door, you’ve set yourselves up for safety and success. If you need to keep the door open and can’t take the time to train, manage the environment with baby gates, doors, and leashes.
  • Continue with positive reinforcement! Reward what you want. Frequently. Not running out the door is a behavior I always reward – food, belly rubs, a game of fetch.  This can be considered a “life saving” behavior, so show appreciation.
    • Always use a happy voice when training, especially when you’re asking your dog to “come when called.”
  • Refrain from punishment: Will a time-out for door dashing work? Hmm, I guess, but it still wouldn’t teach what you want. It also might develop better skills for running out.
  • Make sure the innate doggy needs to run and play are satisfied. Being a bit tired, helps calm the running off urge (not always the case though, so don’t rely on a round of exercise to solve the problem).

Techniques for teaching your dog what you want

  • Using the Lure-Reward technique is the easiest (for both human and dog) for getting the behaviors you want. 
  • Reward your dog for continuing to perform the behavior you want, before he jumps up! This will help build your “stay.”
  • Allow your dog to figure it out: Butt on ground (or in down-stay) makes rewards happen, running off = no more play time.

Finally, and maybe I should have put this first, I cannot emphasize the importance of managing your front door. Place a BIG NOTE on the door reming people to keep the door closed. Reward them for keeping the door closed and your pooch safe.

Remember, no matter how well trained your dog is, your dog is still a dog. Door dashing DNA is hard wired. Nothing is 100% certain, except your dog enjoys running.

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