Many dogs see an open door and run right out of it without hesitation. I mean, why shouldn’t they? There are so many wonderful things to explore out there. There are smells, things to eat and also things to roll in. Unfortunately there is risk as well. Some people live on busy streets which could mean cars, dogs or people are right out there. There are lots of different ways to work on door bolting. In this blog post I’ll be covering 4 things you can do to help prevent it from happening. 1. Teach your dog to stay Stay is an incompatible behavior. A dog can’t stay and also run out the door. Stay can be very easy to teach, but it’s important to add in parameters such as distance and distractions. (For a step by step plan, check out our digital course.) Stay comes in handy when you know you’re going to be opening the door. This could be to grab a package or to let someone in and out.
When we teach a dog to stay, we start off by asking for the stay to happen while we use food as a temptation. If you stay while we dangle food, you’ll get it! We then work on placing it on the floor to make it even more tempting. Once that is going well, we practice a “walk around” stay followed by staying while we walk away. This is our standard plan. To proof the door opening and shutting and people coming in and out, we break it into a few more steps. Training with a plan, which consists of breaking it all down into bite size steps, allows for the behavior to be learned much faster. 2. Teach your dog to wait Wait is also an incompatible behavior. The fun part about this is that the reward for waiting is often getting access to outdoors. We teach this by asking for the “wait” and then cracking the door open. If the dog waits, we say, “good!” and then open the door and head out with the dog on leash as the reward. Early on when teaching this there are a lot of “fails.” Meaning, you’ll open the door and your dog will start to head out. If this happens, we say, “too bad”” and we close the door and repeat instantly. Most dogs get it within 10-20 tries and when doing attempt right after attempt, it usually takes 2-3 minutes before you get your first successful one in. If you do this every time, it’s likely your dog will start to hesitate at the door waiting for the “okay” when you’re standing there. 3. Give access often Some dogs never get to go out a certain door and that can make it so much more tempting for them. If possible, start bringing your dog out the door on leash and allow them to sniff around for 5-10 minutes. Doing this daily can make them less motivated to go out there. 4. Prevention Safety first! If you have serious concerns about door bolting then you’ll want to consider a gating system. If you have the space inside your home, put up some gates so your dog cannot access the door. If space is limited, another option is to put a gate on the outside of your door so that way if it’s left open, there is still a gate to prevent bolting.