Overcoming the Door Dashing Issue in Dogs

September 28, 2017
As a dog owner with over 25 years of experience, I can attest that having a dog is one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened in my life. The companionship and joy they bring is incomparable.

At times, dogs can be quite quick in making their way toward the exit through a door and into the garden or street outside the house. This is called "door dashing." It is almost as if their minds are altered to believe that a universe with infinite potential exists on the other side of the door. Some dogs would take the first opportunity they get upon hearing the opening of a door to rush outside. This is usually frustrating and bothersome for the dog owner, especially if the area outside could be dangerous for a dog. There have been cases of dogs dashing outside and being run over or hit by a car or running away never to come back.

Reasons for Door Dashing

It is part of the psychology of a dog to take up such opportunities instantly. Dogs like to be out running in the open field with no limits. They are not at fault if they are not guided on not to do a certain thing. Dogs look for an experience of freedom, and door dashing allows them to feel something similar. It is a satisfying feeling for a dog to door dash and with every successful attempt at escaping, the dog becomes greedy for more door dashing.

Owners should make it their utmost priority to ensure that they can command their dogs to remain inside when the doors are open. It is impossible to watch the dog all the time and never leave it unattended. What can you do if your dog is a rebel and would not understand that door dashing is not good? Well, this is the piece for you as this article breaks down the problem and figures out a step-by-step guide to solving and preventing the door dashing problem.

Overcoming the Problem

What can be done if your dog is already a master of door dashing? There are multiple approaches you can take toward overcoming the problem before finally moving onto developing mechanisms to prevent it. Some of the techniques that might work are as follows:

Barriers & Exits

An obvious and general solution to door dashing would be to eliminate the door opening. If there is no door, there is no door dashing. This can be done by installing barriers which would prevent the dog from easily escaping. One such idea is a baby gate, which would prevent the dog from door dashing as well as allow you to open the door for whatever reason necessary. There are also various gates which are specifically designed for dogs and can be customized as per your needs.

You may be able to control your dog when you yourself are the one opening and closing the door. However, this is a very specific and ideal scenario. In reality, you could be hosting a party where multiple people would be opening and closing the door or would run into a scenario where the door may remain open for a while (e.g. while bringing in groceries) and so on. At such times, you would need an alternative plan.

One such solution is to have multiple exits in your home. These could be in the garage or basement. While a dog may get used to this as well and end up door dashing through your alternative options, it is a temporary solution worth exploring.

Walk Your Dog

It is only logical to think that a dog trapped inside a household would want time outside in nature. If you are not taking your dog out for sufficient and quality walking time, then your pet is not at fault for wanting to constantly dash outside. Dogs are desperate for physical exercise. They are the sort to be running and playing around. Make sure you are able to walk your dog out in a park from time to time. Play games and get your dog involved in various activities. This will not directly solve the door dashing problem, but it would definitely remove door dashing as the utmost priority for a dog within a household.

Training & Preventing the Problem

Both overcoming and preventing door dashing can be done by training the dog. If a dog is conditioned to understand the command regarding not leaving the house upon the opening of a door, then door dashing should never be a concern for a dog owner. Here are the steps to be followed to condition the dog to better understand how not to run out the door:

  1. Put your dog on a long leash and take it to the door. The leash would not be used, but it is just for safety purposes in case the dog decides to run off.
  2. Make an attempt at opening the door slightly, only about an inch or two from the closing. The natural reaction your dog would have is to run off using whatever opening there is. Make sure you close the door just in time for it to settle down. If your dog does not back up, push it back and wait for it to sit.
  3. Make another attempt at opening the door. This time, take it further than the opening you had last time (about three inches). Once again, shut it back instantly and wait for your dog to settle down.
  4. Repeat the door opening and shutting process with an increment in the opening space every time. Make sure your dog does not escape and settles down right after the door is shut.
  5. Continue to practice this until your dog is conditioned not to run away.
  6. Once sufficient practice has been done, try to open the door completely and observe the dog's reaction. If the dog does not run off, reward it with a treat. However, if it does, repeat the previous steps to strengthen the conditioning.
  7. As soon as the dog has been conditioned to understand that it is not allowed to leave the house, move toward practicing a command to which the dog's response should be to walk out. This could be a "walk" command or any sound which the dog can interpret.

Final Thoughts

It is only with practice that your dog would be able to perfect this and avoid door dashing. This training along with other measures would be ideal to overcome and prevent the problem of door dashing. A dog's only natural desire is to want time in nature where it could run around with no boundaries and interact with an open environment. Therefore, with proper outside time and the installation of barriers, dogs would be better at avoiding dashing the doors. Furthermore, with the training mentioned above, the dog would be conditioned to understand when it is okay to walk out of the door and when it is not.

It is important for the owner to know that keeping a dog indoors all the time would not be the right decision. It is only with a mixture of walking the dog and training it not to door dash that it would find common ground.

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