Molly Sumner is the owner and founder of Kindred Companions LLC. She is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer & Behavioral Consultant and has a deep passion for the human animal bond.
At one time or another every dog owner goes through the same terror as their dog slips past them in the doorway. That cold sweat as a bolt of panic rushes through you while you try and quickly recover your dog before disaster strikes.
But it doesn’t always have to be this way. You can teach your precious pooch to stay right where they belong, instead of playing a very one sided game of tag in your front yard.
The first step to eliminating this problem is to understand why your dog is rushing outside. It’s not an act of control, dominance, or rebellion. The simple honest answer is that being outside is awesome!!
Getting to go outside is the highlight of most dog’s day. All the sniffs, squirrels, birds, friends, and of course pee, make being outside a kind of Disneyland for dogs.
The solution to the problem is calming down your dog’s eager nature about rushing outside. This may sound impossible but it’s not. Its quite easy and just requires a little patience. Gear up as you normally would to take your dog out safely, such as putting on a collar and leash.
While holding on tight to the leash, open the front door, but don’t step out. Just wait in the doorway. Your dog is allowed to go whichever way they like. You dog is just not allowed to pull to go any farther than the length of the leash.
Do this for approximately 5 to 10 minutes. As your dog calms down, reward your dog with a treat. If they look at you, give time 2! After the 5-10 minutes are up, head out on your walk. Repeat this for the next week or two, anytime to plan to take them out.
The next step is teaching your dog the value of you and your entryway area. Leash up your dog and like the previous exercise, open the door. This time step out of the doorway. Now wait for your dog to look at you with some kind of attention. Immediately praise your dog and throw a treat back through the doorway. Repeat this 2-3 times and then head on your walk. Repeat this with each walk.
For the third step you’ll need a long leash around 10 15 feet in length or clip 2 leashes together. No retractable leashes for this exercise. Go through the door like you used to. If at any point your dog waits for you, goes back inside, or looks at you, reward them with praise and treats. Don’t be stingy!
Now if it is safe to do so, wait with the long leash attached to your dog. Let them trot down your stairs, stoop, porch or whatever and explore the bit of yard in front of them. If at any point they look at you, say their name in a joyful tone and encourage them to join you.
Do not use a “come” command. When they arrive you need to have a party. Hand them treat after treat, (up to 6 or 7 treats) and pet, praise, play etc. Treat your dog like you haven’t seen them in weeks. Repeat this for a few days.
For the final step, gear up your dog like you did for the previous step with 10-15 feet of leash and walk out to your front gate, sidewalk, or any other location that is about 5-10 feet from your front door. Now as usual, wait.
If your dog gives you any attention, say their name, whoop and holler like you did when you were partying in the last exercise and race your dog to the porch. Repeat the party from before. Do this exercise on every other walk you do.
After a 6-8 weeks of this your dog will start to become magnetized to your front door. Practice this 2-3 times a week, picking and choosing whichever exercises need the most work. Make sure to practice with distractions like birds, squirrels, people, other dogs, etc.
Be patient and keep it fun. Do not yell at your dog or give them a correction if they do anything wrong. This association has to be bright and happy and positive. Most of all, always practice with a leash on for safety. Never test this without a leash of some sort.
Once you’ve put in the practice you can enjoy the comfort and ease of knowing your dog is much safer and trust worthy near the door, leaving you with less stress when you or a guest is exiting or entering the house.