A guide to navigating the challenge and adventure of life with your dogs.

On Catching The Door Dashing Dog

So you’ve read this post, and you’re in the process of training your dog to wait at doors.

Great! This is all well and good, but sometimes, the committed door dasher will still get out. Someone will accidentally leave the door open, and Rover will make a break for it.

When he does:

You call him. “Rover, COME!” He ignores you. You make a mental note to work on your recall training. In the meantime:

Don’t chase him.

He’s faster than you.

Yeah, I know your every instinct will scream in protest at this, but instead of running toward him, run away from him. If the errant beast sees you running after him, he’ll think one of two things: “Oh good, they’re coming with me. Nice to know I’m not alone.” or “Ha HA! You’ll never catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Dog.”

Keep chasing, and you could end up chasing him straight into traffic.

But if you turn the tables and run away, you’re now challenging HIM to chase YOU. This should make him come after you or at least make him hesitate before running any farther away.

Note that I said not to let him SEE you chasing him. But if he’s getting too far away and you’re in danger of losing him, you need to follow him. So wait till he loses sight of you, then walk quickly toward him on a curving path. Never walk straight to him.

When he looks back, turn tail and run the other way, whooping it up and saying things like “dinner time! Want a treat?!” You’ll feel like an idiot but it’s better than Rover getting hit by a car. If he is sufficiently amused by your antics and follows you, run into someone’s side yard or somewhere else where you can corner him. (If he likes car rides, open the car door and yell “Wanna go for a RIDE?”

Once you catch him, praise him. I know this also goes against every instinct, when you’re tired and ticked off and feel like punching him in the head. But what happens when you punish him?

You’re sending Rover the message, “Don’t ever let me catch you again.” He won’t associate the punishment with him running away. He’ll associate it with you catching him. And you can bet he’ll be harder to catch next time.

So swear at him all you like, but at least do it with your “happy voice.”

If your dog is constantly rushing the door, it’s probably because he’s bored and doesn’t get out often enough. So make sure you spend enough time walking him.