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Ask a Trainer Question Answered

Author: Andrea Miller | Date: March 22, 2012

Here’s the next round of answers for our Ask a Trainer feature on our new website. It’s your chance to get dog training advice from the pros at AnimalSense. Stay tuned for more questions & answers, and if you have a burning dog training question, just “Ask a Trainer”!

My dog has it made around here, yet when I open the door he bolts out. How do I get him to stop?

Obviously this is a big safety issue for your dog. Your dog may enjoy the freedom of running loose, but he could be hit by a car, encounter another animal, or become lost or injured.

The best way to deal with a bad behavior is to prevent it from happening in the first place, as explained in Trainer Greg Raub’s blog about prevention and management. There are several ways you can prevent your dog from running out the front door:

  • Keep your dog on leash when opening the door.
  • Use baby gates or other blockades to create an area so that your dog cannot get to the door.
  • Establish consistent rules in your house so that no one is allowing the dog to run out of the door.
  • Teach your dog “Go to Place” and use this command before opening the door. This will take some work, but the general idea is that your dog goes to a “place” such as a bed, lies down and stays there until you tell him to get up.

Here are the steps for teaching “Go to Place”:

1. Set up a towel, bed or mat in a part of the house you would want your dog to stay. Throw atreat on it and say “Bed/Place”.  When your dog puts its paws on the mat, say “good”. The reward on the bed will be the treat.2.  Repeat step 1 5-10 times.3.  On the tenth try in a row, fake him out by saying “bed” and pretending to throw the treat on the mat, and wait.  Don’t leave your hand over the bed because then they will be focusing on your hand.  Wait up to 30 seconds without repeating and stare at the mat.  If your dog thinks a moment and then goes to see if he missed the treat being thrown, the second that his paws hit the mat, say “Good” and give a treat to them while they are on it.4.  If he goes spontaneously onto the mat, reward that.

5.  If he stays on the mat, reward that.

6.  Keep doing this without adding distance to the mat.

7.  When you say “bed” to your dog, and they automatically put their body on the bed and look at you, you know you’re making progress.

8.  When you add distance, do it slowly and always work from the point that your dog was most successful.

By using prevention and management, you can stop your dog from bolting out of the house. However, setbacks happen sometimes.

Remember that if your dog escapes, you should never scold him when you finally catch him.

If you scold a dog when you catch him, you are actually teaching him not to let you catch him.

You should also have a reliable recall, or “come” so that if your dog does manage to escape, he will return to you when called. AnimalSense’s Recall & Leash Manners class can help you reach that goal with your dog.


We would now go anywhere in the greater Chicagoland area (we’d probably stop at state lines) to take these classes.

Kelly F. | View Client Testimonials


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