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Oh, No! The Dog Got Out!

Sound K9 Concepts

Dec 1, 2023

Does your dog dash out the door every time you open it? Does your dog pull you out the door when you take them for a walk? Then the Door Dash Game is just what you need!

Teaching your dog to respect doorways is not only good manners, but also will keep your dog safe! Every day dogs are hurt, or worse, when they run out of an open door and are hit by a car or get in an altercation with another dog. You also may get hurt if you are in the path of your dog dashing out the door.

So, how do we prevent this from happening and not only teach our dog good manners and keep them safe as well?

The Door Dash game is an easy way to build impulse control and teach your dog that just because the door is open, doesn't mean they can go through it.
A good impulse control game at the door is to teach your dog to remain calm and stay in a sit while you open the door. To begin this game, make sure you have small, tasty treats/food to use to reward your dog. It's also a good idea to train this exercise when your dog is hungry. Many dogs will work for their kibble so use what you would feed at mealtime for this game.
Start with your dog sitting near the door in such a way that you can still open the door without you or your dog having to move out of the way.
For safety, make sure your dog is leashed so they can't get out the door unless you release them. Reach for the handle but don’t turn it - just touch it and let go quickly. If your dog stays in a sit, mark either with a verbal marker word ("Yes!") or a clicker, and then reach for your food/treats and reward your dog. 

Do this multiple times to help desensitize your dog to you reaching for the door handle. Remember, in the past, you reaching for and touching the door handle has always meant that the door is about to open thus increasing excitement, arousal, stimulation and your dog being ready to dash out the door.
Repeat this about 3-5 times and then stop and release your dog out of the sit and end the training session. Work on this for a day or two 3-5 times a day.  We have to let our dogs out to potty and feed them twice a day so there is at least 4-5 times that we have a built-in opportunity to work on this. Every dog is different, so you may need 2-3 days to work on this until you see your dog begin to remain calmer and stay in the sit on their own. 
The next step is to turn the handle slightly, so it makes a noise and let go quickly, but don’t open the door yet. Again, mark and reward your dog for sitting and being calm.  It may be helpful to begin the session by just touching the door handle a couple of times and then move to turning the handle.  Again, repeat this 3-5 times and then stop the session.  Ending training sessions when the dog has given us what we want allows them to retain that information better.  Short, successful sessions!
After a day or two (or more if your dog needs it – remember, rushing training can send you back to the beginning quickly!) move to turning the handle and just barely opening the door – mark/reward calm behavior and shut the door quickly. Then open the door – again, mark/reward calm behavior and shut the door.
This step may need to be done over a few days, depending on how much time you spend on it and how well your dog does.
As your dog is showing they can stay in a sit as you continue to open the door a little more each day, you will get to the point where the door is all the way open.
Remember to mark and then reward the behavior you are looking for. Marking indicates your dog did what you’re looking for at that moment, then, the reward comes afterwards.
Don't forget to give a release cue to let your dog know it's okay to get up and move through the door with you. My favorites are “free” and “release”.
Go slow, be consistent, find joy in your training and you’ll achieve success!
Happy training!
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