The problem is, dogs are not born with any instinctive fear of vehicles, they do not know what a road is, as opposed to a sidewalk, and there is little to naturally deter them from running out onto a road, unless specifically taught not to do so. While the safest method to prevent your dog from running out onto the street is to keep your dog on a leash, even the best-laid plans can go awry. Leashes break, yard gates get left open, people accidentally drop leashes, knots come untied, there is a myriad of ways your dog could be put in a situation where he is free to run into traffic. So, teaching your dog not to run into the street, even if you always keep him on a leash, is a great idea to prevent the unthinkable.
Training your dog to avoid roadways should be done as early as possible. Puppies are unpredictable and can be easily distracted chasing a ball or squirrel out onto a roadway. Adult dogs that have not developed a healthy caution of roadways should also be taught not to run out on the road. This is a critical safety issue for your dog. There are several exercises that can be used to gain control over your dog and prevent them from running out onto the street, which include teaching your dog to distinguish the street from the sidewalk and providing alternate behaviors and off-leash commands.
You will need a leash and a relatively safe roadway, in a quiet neighborhood, with little traffic to ensure your dog's safety during training, and some time to walk your dog and expose him to streets and traffic. As an added benefit, all that exercise will be good for you, your dog, and your relationship! You can work on leash walking manners while you are at it, teach your dog to heel, and practice being in control around other dogs, people and new experiences. You should take along some treats to reward your dog for obeying commands and following your directions. If you are in a rural setting, or in a situation where your dog could be unsupervised with access to streets, you may choose to create a negative association with a shock collar and whistle. Read all instructions with a shock collar to ensure you understand its correct usage.
Normally, Frankie will come and usually stay. Today, she saw someone in the yard and when I opened the door to get something, she snuck out. It was terrifying because she could have been hit by a car. She would not come to me because she was excited to see the yard guys and was running around. I also admit I was a crazy person running after her. Of course, I will continue training her but what do I do until she learns? What is the BEST thing to do IF she gets out again? I assume screaming like a crazy person is not the best method. With my older dog. I can tell him to stay and he will stay.
Hello Debra, You are right that more practice is what she needs. See if you can get some neighbors or friends to act exciting in your front yard and sidewalk, then attach her to a thirty or fifty foot leash, and practice blocking the doorway with your body and stepping toward her if she tries to get past you. Do this until she will stay back from the door even when it is wide open and there are people outside. As she improves, then gradually move further and further away from the door, into your front yard, so that she is respecting the boundary of the door without you blocking her way. If she starts to bolt out, then rush toward her to stop her forward movement. Only do this when a long leash is attached to her so that she will be safe still if she gets past you. Any time that you exit through the doorway with her tell her "OK" and encourage her through the doorway, so that she will learn that she can only go through the doorway when she has been told "OK". Also continue to work on a reliable come command, like it sounds like you already are. You can use a long leash for this too. Purchase a padded back clip harness and practice your "Come" command in public locations with people and dogs around, such as parks or dog park parking lots, while she is on the long leash. If your pup does not come when you call her there, reel her in with the leash, tell her to "Sit", and then release her with an "OK" command, and when she is distracted again, call her back. Repeat this until she comes five times in a row, then give her a short break and practice "Come" again. In the meantime, if she gets out again, to get her back quickly and safely, act super excited, make noise, call out her name in a happy voice, jump up and down and generally act very goofy and happy, and as soon as she looks at you when you do, run AWAY from her. By acting fun and running away from her you will excite her chase instinct, and then you can run to somewhere safe with her chasing after you. When she gets to you, grab something such as a shoe, stick, Pinecone, or whatever other fun object you have by you, and wiggle it to encourage her to bite it, and then grab onto her collar as soon as she is close enough while playing. After you do this, as soon as possible, attach the long leash to her and practice you "Come" command and door manners, to remind her of the rules. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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