How to Train Your Dog to Not Run Out the Door

Medium
1-5 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You get home after a long day at work, you’ve picked up the kids and you’ve just done the weekly shopping. You open your front door, bags in hand, and by the time you’ve dropped your bags down on the floor, your dog has leaped through the doorway and onto the street. Everyone is on their way back from work so the street is packed full of cars and the risk of an accident is high. You charge out onto the road and collect your mischievous dog, but this wasn’t the first time and you fear it won’t be the last.

Thousands of dogs every year are killed on the roads. Dogs have a natural ability for escaping their confines and charging into danger and while it may have been funny the first couple of times, now you seriously worry about your dog's safety.

Defining Tasks

The good news is, training your dog not to run out the door can be achieved in as little as a couple of weeks with receptive puppies and within a month or so if he’s older and stuck in his ways. You will need to use rigorous obedience commands, plus take a number of steps to limit his ability to charge out the door. Obedience commands will increase your level of control over your canine friend, also making other training easier.

It won’t be easy, but with patience and consistency, you can expect impressive results. Mastering this training is vital, it may save his life and also prevent a serious traffic accident that could injure somebody else. Successful training could also save you from hefty vet bills if he’s seriously injured during his unsanctioned exploits. 

Getting Started

Before you open the door, you will need to get together a few things. Firstly, get yourself some doggie treats or break your dog's favorite food into small chunks. You will need these to hammer home the training and reward him for good behavior.

You will also need a doorway to practice in that doesn’t lead onto a busy street and is free from distractions. You will also need a long leash for one of the methods below.

The only other thing you need is patience and 15 minutes each day for the next few weeks and then you’re ready to commence training!

The Long Leash & Stay Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Setting up
Attach a long leash or rope to his collar and then to a staircase or sturdy object near the doorway in question. Ensure there is enough slack on the rope/leash that he can still move around plenty and just about get through the doorway.
Step
2
'Stay'
Put your hand on the closed door handle and firmly say ‘stay’. Don’t shout at him as you don’t want to scare him, but be firm enough that he knows you mean business.
Step
3
Reward
If he stays there for 2 seconds, give him a treat and praise him. It is important you quickly reward him just for standing there so he associates the food with staying still. Now keep practicing this for 15 minutes and slowly build up the time you leave him there before you give him the treat. He will soon catch on what you expect him to do.
Step
4
Open the door
Now issue the ‘stay’ command and open the door. Don’t walk through the door, only open it. If he stays still for several seconds, reward and praise him. Again practice this for 15 minutes for several days and build up the time you can leave him there.
Step
5
Cut down on treats
As he gets the hang of training, slowly reduce the frequency of treats. Keep practicing until praise alone is enough to keep him waiting inside the door. When you are fully confident the training regime has broken the habit, you can lose the leash and rely on the command alone. Be patient with the training, it may take several weeks but he will get the hang of it.
Recommend training method?

The Bed Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Start at his bed
Collect some treats and take him to his bed. You are going to train him to quickly go to his bed whenever you want him to, such as before you open the door. It will also come in handy if he begs at the table too!
Step
2
Position yourselves
Have him stand next to the bed and then take out a treat. As you do this, issue the command ‘bed’ in a firm voice. Ensure you have the treat out when you say this to hold his attention.
Step
3
Lead him
Lead him to the bed with the treat. As soon as all four legs are on the bed, give him the treat and shower him with praise. Repeat this several times, then when he starts getting the hang of it, start farther away from the bed before sending him there. Over several days, slowly increase the distance until you can send him to his bed from the farthest room in the house
Step
4
Long leash
Secure one end of a long leash to him and the other to a sturdy object in the house. Ensure there is enough slack that he can reach the front door but also get back to his bed. Then put your hand on the door handle and issue the ‘bed’ command. Once he heads back to his bed be sure to follow him, then reward and praise him.
Step
5
Daily practice
Repeat this everyday for at least 2 weeks. If after two weeks he always responds to the ‘bed’ command, even when you are lingering near the door, slowly start to reduce the frequency of treats. You can also lose the leash, just remember to always send him to his bed before you open the problem door. It may take several weeks, but patience and keeping up with the daily training is key to success.
Recommend training method?

The Environment Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Baby gates
Consider fitting a baby gate across the doorway in question. They’re cheap, easy to install, and they will completely remove the temptation for him. If you have young children in the house the gate will be an added safety measure for them too.
Step
2
Fit tethers and leashes
Place leashes and tethers next to the problem doorways. Placing a leash next to each doorway in your eye line, is a quick and easy way to prevent him from running out. As soon as you head to the doorway simply leash him to a nearby tether and you won’t have to worry!
Step
3
Remote controlled collars
They can be bought from a range of online retailers and local pet stores and they can be used to quickly halt a running dog. As soon as you see him cross the doorway, hit the button and a quick spray of citronella or water will signal to him to stop what he’s doing. After several weeks of consistent use he will soon associate crossing the doorway with a negative consequence.
Step
4
Isolation
Place him in a crate for 2 minutes each time he runs out the door. If he runs through the door again, add an extra 30 seconds onto the time out period and keep upping the time until the message sinks in. He will quickly learn that crossing the threshold will result in a boring period of isolation.
Step
5
Patience
Be patient with each measure, give them at least several days before you give up and move onto the next option. Most dogs take a few days to respond to training so don’t lose hope if he still tries and runs through the door after just 24 hours. You can also use any of the above steps in conjunction with each other. Simply be patient, different measures work for different dogs.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Happy
Chihuahua
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Happy
Chihuahua
2 Years

I red what your article says, but when I tried it for 5 weeks, and he still runs out the door, I dont want one day that my dog runs out and a car hits him, plz help. :c

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
277 Dog owners recommended

Hello Coral, I suggest using the "Long Leash" method also found in that article but make the following changes to it. https://wagwalking.com/training/not-run-out-the-door 1. use a very light weight long leash, so that he will not feel it very much. You may have to make your own leash with something like braided paracord or climbing accessory rope. Look on the cord packaging and make sure that whatever you choose can hold at least five times his weight. Make sure his collar or harness is not too loose so that is won't slip off if he were to get out. 2. Attach the leash to something that gives him enough length that he 'could' get out the door, so that it is not the leash stopping him but your training - the leash is just for safety and to keep him from being rewarded with freedom outside if he were to get past you. Your presence needs to be what keeps him inside though since he won't always be wearing a leash. 3. When you first start the training on the leash, start in front of your door to go outside. Open the door a few inches and if he tries to move into the doorway, immediately close the door and get between him and the door and walk toward him until he has backed up several feet. Stand in front of him blocking his way until he stops trying to get past you and either walks away, looks at you for direction, lays down, or does something else indicating that he is ready to listen and stop trying to sneak out. If he won't give up, keep taking steps toward him until he indicates he is pay attention to you or will leave the door alone. Practice this routine at the door until he no longer rushes the door while you are standing there, even if the door is wide open. Increase how far you open the door as he improves, until you can leave it open while standing there. Your body language should be calm but very firm when you do this. You are walking into his space to communicate without giving any commands that you want him to respect that space (which you are claiming with your body language) by the door. 4. When he can handle not rushing out the door while you are standing there, then gradually back out of the door yourself - going outside or onto the porch steps, leaving it propped open while you do this (he should be able to handle it being propped open at this point - if not, work on the opening and closing and walking toward him for longer). Walk just far enough away that he is tempted to go out the door but doesn't try to every time. If he stays inside, then return to him and place a treat on the floor to reward him. If he tries to go out, put your hand out, with your palm facing him, like a stop sign and rush toward him to get him to back up into the house again, while saying "Ah Ah". Once he is back inside, practice walking away outside again, being ready to move toward him if he tries to follow you. Do all of this without giving any commands so that he will learn to do this at all times - not just when told to. 5. As he improves, gradually practice walking further and further away outside, even out of sight briefly (remember to use the long leash just in case he bolts and don't stay gone for long so that you can catch him trying to go out if he tries - which he will likely try when he cannot see you at first). Practice all of this until he can handle staying inside even while you are out of sight. 6. When he can handle you being out of sight, then recruit some friends with kids or dogs to walk down your sidewalk or play outside, while he watches from the door. Reward him when he stays inside, be ready to rush toward him if he tries to bolt (you may need to get a lot close to the door again when you first add distractions). Practice all of this until he can stay inside even if you are around the corner and there are distractions present. 7. Once he is trained, always be careful still. Any dog can slip up if something unexpected, they were not prepared for happens, and it is always good to be careful around cars. 8. Whenever you take him outside through that door, give him a command such as "Okay", "Let's Go" or "Free" that means it is okay to go through the door with you. You are teaching him to automatically NOT go through the door in general so he needs to be taught a command that lets him know that it is okay to go through when told to, so that you do not undo his training by letting him through the door without a release command. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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