One of the move endearing things about our dogs is how excited they are about...well everything.
"YOU CAME BACK OUT FROM THE BATHROOM!"
You get the hint.
However, this overflowing enthusiasm can sometimes result in our dogs making less than ideal decisions, such as darting out of an even slightly open door. This can be incredibly dangerous, particularly if they are chasing after a squirrel into the street...
What can we do to help our dogs?!
We can teach them an appropriate alternative behavior.
Essentially, we want the dog to think, "When I do X, the door opens. If I don't do X, the door stays closed. I better do X super quick, I want to go outside!"
The way of doing this is rather simple.
If you have a fully fenced-in and enclosed back yard, you may practice this off-leash. If not, then please have your dog on-leash for this exercise.
You will need at least 20 small, soft and yummy treats your dog really enjoys.
The more, the better.
Bring your dog to the door you will be practicing with. Simply stand there with them, smiling and waiting. The millisecond they offer a SIT (meaning you did NOT ask them to sit, they did it on their own), give them a cookie and then start opening up the door.
Now, your dog is likely to stand up. "WOOHOO! The human opened the door, party time!"
What do you do? Simply take your hand off the doorknob and wait.
Your dog will puzzle for a moment, "...Why did the human close the door?"
Breathe, smile and wait for them to offer a SIT again. When they do, feed them a treat and then begin to open the door again.
Once again, it is likely that butt will pop right up. This is expected! Simply close the door, breathe, smile and wait.
Repeat this process until your dog maintains their SIT even when you have the door completely open. DO NOT MAKE THEM WAIT LONG BEFORE YOU ALLOW THEM THROUGH THE DOOR!
Say a release word, such as "FREE" or "GO" and allow them to go through the door.
If they are off-leash, allow them to go explore in the backyard.
If they are on-leash, bring them over to a fun bush they can smell and check out, even take out a toy for them to play tug with.
You have just taken the first step in teaching your dog the value of waiting.
Now, this will take practice and repetitions to finesse, make solid and reliable. But if you are consistent and patient, you will find your dog is no longer darting through doors.
CRUCIAL SIDENOTE: Training is only one PART of the equation. Proper management is a critical part of being successful! Therefore, if your dog is a chronic door dasher, use baby gates or x-pens to block their access to these areas in addition to training. The last thing you want to have happen is a horrendous accident that could have been avoided if we simply used some management.
Want to learn more about management, how essential it is and easy it can be to implement? Check out our Mighty Management Webinar.