When you open your front door, your dog gets excited and tries to run out. Over the years, your dog has done this so many times that you've had to install a fence and maybe some gates to keep something bad from happening to him. You're tired of this behavior, and you want to know how you can stop it.
First, it's important to learn why your dog runs out the door. By knowing the cause of the problem, you can then figure out a solution that works for you and your pup.
Here are some reasons why your dog runs out the door or engages in what's called "door dashing."
He wants a reward
In the past, perhaps your dog ran out the front door and chased after a chipmunk, barked at other dogs in the neighborhood, confronted the mail carrier, or simply scurried around on the front lawn. These are all exciting rewards for your dog, and he is simply chasing that good feeling when he tries to run out. He wants that "rush," and he's even willing to experience negative attention from you to get it.
Your dog might not be getting out of the house much. He feels the need to run outside and get a taste of the fresh air. You may notice that your dog door dashes right when you get home from a long day at work or from a vacation. Perhaps he's feeling a little stir crazy and just needs to go outside for a little bit.
He has a strong prey drive
If your dog runs out the front door exclusively to chase animals, people, cars, and objects, then he may have a strong prey drive. Natural instincts called prey drive compel your dog to chase everything from squirrels to skateboarders to cars. Even though prey drive is innate, it can be dangerous, especially if your dog is running out into the street to go after cars, or he's chasing people and attempting to bite them.
He is territorial
You've probably noticed that your dog barks whenever someone comes to your front door, especially the mail carrier or delivery person. If you're opening the front door at the same time, he may try to run out and chase the person away. He is being territorial and protective of his home, which can be dangerous, especially if your dog is a biter as well.
Training your dog to stop door dashing
Dog owners whose pups are door dashers can use training to combat this behavior. You can teach your dog to sit and stay with some positive reinforcement and high value treats, for example. Whenever you're about to open the front door, tell your dog to sit and then use your hand to command that he stay in place. Give him a treat every time he listens to you.
If your dog is running out the front door because he's bored or restless, make sure he gets plenty of exercise daily and is stimulated when you aren't home. Perhaps you have a dog walker stop by during the day or you leave your dog with his favorite toys to play with when you're gone. A well-exercised pup is not going to have the energy to try to door dash.
Whenever you get to a gate or a door – especially when coming home from a walk – you'll need to train your dog to get your permission before proceeding. Have him sit and stay, and then tell praise him and tell him "OK" when it's fine to proceed.
As an extra precaution, make sure you have barriers around your home like gates and fences so your dog can't run out into the street. Training takes time, so you need backup protection while your dog is still learning.