Look Familiar?… Well if it does you are not alone. A lot of people have escape artists for their dogs & are forced to open the front door only a crack, so they can shimmy through to leave or escort a guest inside. If this is you there is hope. This article is dedicated to giving you some much needed assistance with this challenge.
Also I have say this is especially common for rescue pets. That’s because they’ve had for the most part a turbulent life before they were a part of your loving family. Surviving on the streets you have to be ready flee for your life at any given moment or it will cost you injury or death. Not to mention dodging animal services trying to incarcerate you.
So don’t take it personally if your dog tries to escape, old habits are hard to reverse… Hard but not impossible. Also to escape you have to understand feels GREAT! It’s a liberating freedom of the free spirit that’s almost impossible to describe with words.
The main key to resolving this challenge is to communicate to your pet that 1. Escaping is not necessary. 2. What’s at home is w-a-y-y-y better than anything the world outside has to offer. 3. They are safe inside your home & yard no matter what. 4. They can TRUST you & your judgement over their own. 5. Being OBEDIENT to what their being asked to do has REWARDS beyond words. & last but not least … 6. Staying while the door or gate is open is your dog’s choice.
I know it sounds impossible right? Well it’s not. With consistent training, diligence & the right attitude you can convince any escape artist to change his/her ways without force. Now if you’re ready let’s get started.
I always start with Foundational commands of SIT, STAY & COME. First master this and get everyone that is going to interact with your dog on the same page to avoid further confusion and keep the communication clear with your dog. Once your dog has gotten good with these commands & understands them we’ll go further.
The very first thing you want to do is to put your dog on a long line and attach it to your dog’s flat buckle collar. That’s right, a long line on your dog in the house. Do not use the leash you walk him on. He should be tethered in close proximity to the front door so he relates this exercise to the front door about 7 to 10 feet should do.
Make sure you tie the long line off to something like a stair case railing or shut the entry hall closet door on the handle of the long line. Make sure the line is secure, by doing this your dog is safe before you begin training your dog.
Next, with your dog still tethered close to the door, teach your dog to sit and stay when you put your hand on the closed door knob.
Now this is accomplished by “preceding” the sit-stay command with putting your hand on the closed door knob then say, “Sit then a couple of seconds say Stay!” Hold for 5-10 seconds and release your dog from the sit stay by saying good boy/girl(do not take him off the tether).
NOTE: You are now beginning to desensitize your dog to holding a sit-stay at the front door in the entry hall. You have not opened the door at this point.
Repeat this training until your dog automatically sits and stays when your hand grabs the door knob. Then build your SIT & STAY up to 20 to 30 seconds successfully.
While your dog is still tethered. Next, teach your dog to sit and stay when you put your hand on the door knob and open the door.
Continue just as you did in step one except you open the door only 2-5 inches. Hold the sit-stay for 5-10 seconds, close the door and release your dog by saying good Boy/girl (Your dog is still tethered at this point).
Increase both the opening of the door and the length of the sit-stay. If at any point your dog breaks his sit-stay, go back a step. Meaning: don’t open the door as wide and do shorter sit-stays until he gets it.
Build your sit-stays to 20-30 seconds with the door wide open.
Teach your dog to sit and stay when you put your hand on the door knob, open the door and you step outside.
Make sure you stay close just across the threshold. You want to gradually build time and distance here until your dog can hold a 20-30 second sit-stay with you 5-10 paces down the sidewalk.
Also practice walking out the door and stepping to the side – out of sight – for very short periods building up to the 30 second out of sight sit stay.
If your dog breaks his sit-stay, simply take him back and start again. This would mean that you need to go back a few steps and decrease time out of sight to set him up to succeed before doing longer out of sight stays.
PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE!
The only other thing to teach your dog is that his walking leash is the key to going outside. He/She does not go outside if he is not on a leash – period.
Simply put his walking leash on first, then disconnect the long line and walk him out the front door. With repetition, he’ll learn to automatically sit-stay when the door opens and not go out unless his walking leash is on.
Train consistently with as many family members as necessary. Remember reversing old habits take time, patience & consistency. Do not yell at your dog ever & do not practice more than 30 minutes at a time to keep training fresh and fun. Do everything with love and reward good behavior with a treat and affection.
REMEMBER PETS RULE!