My dog keeps running out the front door!
Does your dog escape out the front door at any given chance? Most owners find this a problem, especially when they have a young puppy or dog they haven't long had in the home.
This is a very easy problem to fix, if you keep practising techniques and are consistent, repetitive and clear with your commands to your dog.
Manage your dog so that first of all they can't access that area of the house easily, again this sounds hard to do, but take some time to think about what your layout is and how you can control the dog from going near the front door. Remember, every time that door is open it is extremely exciting to see whats on the other side of it, and if they do get the chance to get near it, they will run out and you won't catch them!
One way to manage your dog from being able to access that part of the house is to use "chill out" time. "Chill out" is an area you can have your dog a on lead and its bed, toys, treats etc. whereby the dog feels safe and comfortable.
Use the "chill out" area to your advantage every time and put the dog in "chill out" whenever there is something happening where that front door will be open, visitors coming and going, loading and unloading groceries, kids from school etc. manage your dog where they are not in the way, but instead are controlled, happy and easily distracted with their toys, treats or a bone of some kind.
When your dog is in this area, praise him/her and let them know that when they stay in that area they are being a good dog. Praise at the moment the good behaviour is occuring. You will need to practise this technique of "chill out" over and over whilst the front door is opened and closed numerous times. Distract your dog so they look at you and are focused on you rather than what is near our outside the door. This is quite hard to do because like mentioned earlier, the world that is beyond that front door is very exciting to your dog.
With puppies, this will be harder as they are still learning everything new within the "den", your house and so will try and attention seek and whine, which can become frustrating.
Once you have achieved this first step of the technique, then move onto the next step which consists of having your dog on lead, however not actually attached to something in the house. The lead now becomes loose but you are able to grab or step on it if your dog moves away from its "chill out" area when you are practising opening and closing the door in front of them.
Diversion by distraction is a very powerful tool and your dog is rewarded for paying attention to you rather than the front door opening and closing. If your dog does try to run out, you have the chance to step on the lead and catch your dog before they go running off out of the front door.
This second stage might occur a few days after practise of the first stage, your timings will depend on your dog, your commands and corrections to your dog and how strong willed your dog is as well.
Once you have mastered these stages then move on to the dog being off lead completely with the front door opening and closing. Praise your dog heavily when he/she does not want to enquire whats outside or through the front door. This is your first success and having the door open, your dog off lead and your dog not escaping out the door. You are part of the way there!
After this, practise daily, just for a few minutes each time until you feel confident that your dog is listening to you and really understanding its boundaries with the front door area.
Dogs are very good at testing you out though to see if you are always watching and smarter than they are. When you display these qualities you are signing good leadership to your dog and they will respect you.
If your dog does sneak and get out of that front door, he/she has won and you have to start all over again enforcing that you are in control of their boundaries!
This is such a common problem that most owners have, so just remember to keep practising and teach your dog how much of a good leader you really are!