How to Stop Your Dog from Running Out the Door

Dogs can escape by getting out of the house. This behavior can be just as frustrating as having a dog who gets out of the yard. In some ways it’s even more frustrating because your dog always does it while you are right there, watching. It can seem like it’s even more your fault than when a dog digs his way under a fence.

Fortunately, there are some good solutions for dogs who try to get out of the house, and obedience training can help stop dogs who rush the door and try to get out.

The Door

Most of the time when a dog escapes from the house the action is centered on the door – whichever door people normally uses when they go in and out of the house. It’s possible you could have a dog who breaks a window to get out, or finds some other way out of the house, but dogs are mostly opportunistic.

It’s unlikely that your dog will plot to escape from the house like a prisoner of war. Instead, in the excitement and confusion of someone opening the door and people going in and out, your dog simply takes off outside where it looks like it might be fun to go for a run and play with other dogs.

Tip: The more you chase your dog, the more he will run away. If your dog does get out, don’t chase him. Call him, get his attention, and walk in the opposite direction. Of course, it always helps if you have treats with you. And it helps if you have practiced a good obedience “Come” with your dog.

You can keep your dog from escaping out of the house by controlling his behavior around the door. There are several good ways to do this.

Teach your dog to “Sit” when you answer the door

If your dog knows the basic obedience commands, you have a much better chance of stopping him from escaping out of the house. All of the commands are important, especially the “Come” command if he gets out. But the “Sit” command can be used to prevent your dog from rushing out the door. If your dog is well-trained to Sit and Stay, you should be able to give these commands before you open the door and your dog will not run toward the door.

It’s easy to practice these commands with your dog at the door. A friend or family member can help you by knocking at the door or ringing the doorbell. You and your dog can be near the door. You should practice giving your dog the Sit and Stay commands under these circumstances.

Be sure to praise and reward your dog. If your dog does tend to rush toward the door, you can take the precaution of attaching a long cord or rope to his collar and holding it so he won’t get out the door if he runs toward it while you are practicing. If you keep working with these commands while you practice answering the door with your dog, he should become much better about obeying them and reacting calmly when someone comes to the door.

Some people advise that you train your dog to sit at every door before you give him permission to go through. So your dog would sit before getting in the car, sit before going in his crate, sit before walking into each room with you if he has to walk through a door. This gives you great control over your dog. It’s up to you if you want to train your dog to sit at each door and wait for your permission to walk through. A dog trained this way probably won’t ever rush out the front door.

“Go to your place”

Another good way to control your dog at the door and prevent him from escaping is by teaching him to “Go to your place” when someone comes to the door. This is a more advanced lesson but it will move your dog away from the door. You can use “Place” or “Go to your place” to teach this command.

To teach your dog the Place command, attach his leash to his collar and tell him “Place.” Lead him to the place where you have selected for this command, such as his bed or a mat. You should use the same place each time you give the command. When you get to the place, tell your dog, “Yes!” and reward him with a treat. You should keep repeating this part of the lesson until he understands what “Place” means.

Then, try the command with the leash removed. If he goes to the bed, tell him “Yes!” and give him a treat. If not, put his leash back on and keep practicing. When your dog will go to his bed reliably off-leash, you can add the Lie Down and Stay commands. Start out with a short stay of just about 15 seconds and then say, “Yes!” Reward him. Then give your dog a release word such as “Okay!”

Once your dog has learned the basic “Go to your place” command, you can start practicing it with the help of a friend or family member at the door. Have them knock on the door or ring the bell then give your dog the “Place” command. Keep practicing so your dog will become completely reliable with this command.

If your dog is staying comfortably on his bed when people are going in and out of the door, he won’t be trying to run outside.

Other ways to keep your dog from getting out of the house

There are some other ways to keep your dog from getting out of the house, though they are not as handy as having your dog trained to obey you.

You can crate your dog when people come to the door, or place him in another room. This takes him away from the door so he can’t run out, but it’s not always convenient. If you have to answer the door quickly or if your spouse or another family member comes in the house, your dog could still run toward the door. You might also simply forget to remove your dog from the door area.

You could leash your dog before answering the door but, again, this is not always convenient. In addition to the problems mentioned above, you might drop the leash or the dog could pull it out of your hands.

You can also use baby gates or pet gates to keep your dog away from the outer door. These gates can be a good way to keep dogs out of rooms and areas where you don’t want them, including the room that has the door that goes outside.

You could also use a boundary training system to train your dog to stay out of certain places in your home. These systems work by having your dog wear a collar that emits a citronella spray or a slight shock. The system is set up so that when your dog goes into a certain place in your home, the collar will spray or shock your dog.

You could set up one of these systems to keep your dog away from the door. However, if you use one of these systems this way, your dog may become afraid to go near the door at all, even when you want to leave the house with him. They are normally used to discourage dogs from getting on furniture or surfing things off kitchen counters.

These are the basic ways people try to keep their dogs from getting out of the house. The methods that use training are usually the most effective. If you can teach your dog to Sit and Stay then you should be able to control his behavior and teach him to stop trying to rush out the door.

One thing that is important to remember no matter which method you choose is that your entire family needs to work on preventing your dog from getting out of the house. You all need to use the same commands for training.

You all need to be careful about the door. Everyone should be mindful of where the dog is before opening the door. If you have children, make sure they are supervised before they go in or out so they won’t let the dog run outside. The whole family should make an effort to keep the dog safe at home.

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