What to do with a Door Dasher

September 20, 2013

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Either we’ve been there ourselves, or we know of someone who’s  faced the following scenario: you’re running late for an appointment, you grab your keys and start to dash out the door, and right then Fido rushes past you and out into the great beyond. You call his name, along with a few other choice words, but all you get is the tail and the dust left behind. What to do!?!

Prevention:

Through the use of management tools, one can prevent door dashers from escaping by having a double or triple gated system in place.

  • Use of baby-gates and exercise pens can create a second barrier.
  • Tethers and crates are handy for when you know people are scheduled to stop by your home. Prior to the visitors arriving, you contain your dog by leashing/tethering, crating, or closing him into another room of the house. Practice doing this when people are not coming over as well, so that your dog isn’t predicting that crate time means people come over and there’s a chance to escape; he may start evading the containment system you have.

Training:

Management will be necessary when first starting a training program, and for some dogs a form management may always have to be in place, because escaping out the door and running has been to highly reinforced in the past.

  • With your tools in place, have people come in and toss treats away from the door–back towards the inside of the house to get the dog focused on the floor and moving away from the door.
  • Teach a strong “recall” with your dog.
  • Teach a “U-turn” cue as well (turn, face me, and give me your attention).
  • Attach a long, drag line to your pup, and work on recalls from the doorways.

Uh oh, he got out!

If your dog does get past you, have treats and a few favorite toys stashed by each entrance so you can quickly grab your dog’s attention and reward him for it.

  • Do not chase your dog, this will kick in the play drive of “come and get me”, or it may spook your dog if your dog tends to be fearful. Instead, grab the goodies and see if you can distract him.
  • Once you have his attention, move away from your dog. This sounds counterintuitive, but many times dogs will follow you because they’re curious, or if you run from them you may kick in the chase drive. If you can, run into an open garage or fenced in yard before tossing treats on the ground to distract the dog. If you think your dog will follow you right back into the house, awesome, try it!
  • Some dogs LOVE car rides, so grab your keys and jump in your car. Drive around and when you see your dog: stop, get out, open the back door and in your peppiest voice, ask him if he wants to go for a car ride. Many dogs will run right over and jump in.
  • Don’t scold or reprimand him if he turns around and comes back to you! This is hard one for people sometimes, especially if they’re already running late or have something important happening. If you scold a dog for coming back to you, he’ll associate returning to you, not running away with punishment. Next time, he’ll be more leery to return to you.

Last of all, if you know you have a dog that is inclined to be a door dasher, be sure he’s ALWAYS wearing a collar with current ID tags, and is microchipped. That way if the above management, training, and tips to get him home fail, you’ll have some comfort in knowing he has proper ID on him so if someone finds him, he’ll be returned quickly and safely.

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