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Why Does My Dog Run Away When I Open the Door? - PawSafe

Why Does My Dog Run Away When I Open the Door?

Photo of Shawn

Written by Shawn

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If you could speak canine with your runaway dog, you’d learn dogs escape for several reasons. One of the main reasons is they associate fun with the great outdoors, and secondly, they haven’t yet mastered the release word you were supposed to teach your dog.

Door dashing is a common problem many dog owners battle. It puts a dog’s safety at risk.

Why Did My Dog Run Away When I Opened the Door

Don’t fear, stress, or chase. Dogs pick up on your stressors. With the help of some dog training tools and behavior teaching, you’ll break the bad habit of door-dashing through environmental management.

However, it will take considerable persistence to prevent your dog from running out the open door.

Your dog shouldn’t control the scene. You must develop boundaries before your dog runs out the front door.

Out of fear

Depending on the situation, some canines run because they’re scared. There’s a difference between dogs that run as soon as the door opens and dogs that bolt during extraordinary circumstances like thunder, fireworks, or other loud noises.

Fireworks or gun blasts are common fears in pups. My little dog Petunia could sense a thunderstorm hours before the first rumble. Although tiny, she always thought she could outrun thunder and lightning.

If you understand the fear trigger, prevent door dashing by:

  • Providing a safe shelter, like in the basement; 
  • Turn on soft music or white noise like a fan;
  • If the behavior is from a loud noise event like a shotgun, use a behavior exposure method; and
  • Ask your vet about calming medications.

Natural instinct to reproduce

A great way to fix the problem of wanting to heed nature’s call is to spay and neuter. A dog has natural urges, and the chat about birds and bees isn’t going to curb the urge. Canines mature sexually early, and keeping them confined is challenging.

Please have your pet spayed and neutered. Did you know dogs get sexually transmitted diseases like VD and chlamydia?

Our pets do silly things too. We should work hard to correct them and try to learn from our mistakes.

Anxious about getting separated from the owner

Although dogs run when they experience separation anxiety, they do it because they can’t bear to be away from us. Separation anxiety in our pets is common and difficult to treat. Dogs learn so many of our language clues and signals, and it’s important to learn how to communicate and tame their anxiety.

Working with a certified professional dog trainer will help with door dashing and separation issues.

However, you can try a few tips:

  • Fill stuffed puzzle toys to keep them busy until you’re out the front door
  • Don’t make a fuss when you leave and come home
  • Reward them with a very special treat when you leave but don’t overcompensate
  • For severe anxiety, introduce leaving slowly by slipping on your shoes and coat but not leaving instantly. Build up to leaving and do ordinary chores until you’re ready
  • Make the first exit short and come back, gradually increasing the time

Out of boredom

Dogs want to have fun. Some pooches run out of frustration and boredom. Most dogs need to expel pent-up energy and have regular physical stimulation that your dog enjoys and not just in a fenced yard.

If your dog is a bundle of energy, use that energy in training sessions like agility and basic obedience. Attending a puppy class helps you and your dog with impulse control. You learn basic commands like stay and sit and a vocabulary for release words.

Spending quality time together is so rewarding.

Alien surroundings

If you recently moved, your dog will need time to adjust. Dogs are sensitive to many outside influences. To prevent door-dashing, try free-standing gates and hold them back with a leash. But that is only a temporary fix.

Training a dog isn’t as easy as a 30-minute television show. It takes persistence and a bag of training treats. Hiring dog trainers might be a better solution and help you make training fun.

Natural hunting extinct

We mustn’t forget canines still have instincts that date back to their wolf cousin. Some dogs are diggers, and some are hunters, and when the front door opens, they’re gone.

Keep your dog safe by creating a routine where you command the dog to its bed before opening the back door. Baby gates might work for smaller breeds, but larger breeds can easily scale a low gate. Before you open the door, practice the sit command until they obey.

Measures to Prevent Dogs from Running Away

There’s that word again–training. We love our pets and sometimes overlook bad behavior because we love them so much. But a trained dog is a safe, happy, and confident dog.

Get the leash and your dog’s collar and calmly get ready to leave but keep the door closed. Make the dog wait with the closed door until you issue the release cue.

Keep your dog safe

The most efficient way to keep your dog safe is to teach it commands and set a routine. Blocking the door opening is only a band-aid solution. You can use a long leash to restrain them from getting hurt, but it won’t stop the impulse to bolt.

Instead, work with commands. Did you know that the word no isn’t a command? The word no is a pause; it doesn’t tell the dog that it should wait, stay, sit, or come.

World Animal Foundation recommends using effective tools to address a range of dog behavioral issues. Pets bring joy, companionship, and love into our lives, and we have a responsibility to ensure their safety and well-being.

Additionally, pets are vulnerable to various dangers, such as accidents, diseases, and mistreatment, so it’s crucial to take measures to protect them from harm.

Get your pup neutered

This is so important. The benefits of having your dog spayed and neutered outweigh the negatives. Dog neutering doesn’t calm your dog but will curtail dogs from mating. It might help them become more focused, but it doesn’t impact all breeds the same.

Neutering and spaying are great tools to prevent pet overpopulation and their need to mate, which might trigger door dashing. Training is the best method to prevent dashing.

Train your dog properly

Stats suggest that we’re spoiling our pets with treats, quality food, and accessories, but maybe we’re not spending enough on dog training. There is much debate about how to train a dog, and older methods favor domination and force. Newer research suggests that dogs have an intra-species relationship coupled with many behaviors and motivations. 

Based on these findings, many professionals recommend positive reinforcement.

Tips like baby gates, invisible fencing, or secure perimeter fences might help with dashing, but they don’t solve the problem. Instead, practice commands with your dog and set boundaries.

Dog owners sometimes forget that a dog is pretty keen to please. When you work on door-dashing behavior, you teach your dog a valuable skill. It makes being a pet parent much more enjoyable than yelling with frustration each time the front door opens or the doorbell chimes.

Training tip: Practice the sit, stay command until it sticks. Gradually move closer toward the door. You can use a clicker, verbal, or reward method but remain consistent.

Ask your dog to stay sitting until you ask them to advance or slowly open doors. If excitement gets the best of them, repeat until you can reach the door knob and open the door without the dog getting up.

Give your dog enough time

We all have busy lives and must remind ourselves to make time for our canine family members. Mature canines might not need as much exercise and might be content with a cuddle on the sofa, but young, energetic pups need stimulation and exercise.

Set time aside each day to walk and play with your dog. They need that commitment and deserve your attention.

Keep your dog entertained

It doesn’t take much effort. Walking is a super healthy activity, and tossing a ball or frisbee is fun. Younger dogs have an abundance of energy. They also want to please you. Walking them every day is a great way to get physical health. It’s also good for their mind as they experience sights, sounds, smells, and socialize with other canines, and interact with hoomans.

A bored dog may chew items in the house, dig in the garden or try to escape through any opening in the fence.

Make sure your dog wears a collar 

Although you might not want your dog to wear a collar in the house, they must have a collar with ID tags when leaving. If you lose the dog on your walk or if it dashes from home, having an ID tag or a GPS tracker is vital for their safety.

Conclusion

Sometimes it sounds like a sermon, but you must commit to your dog’s well-being through training. Our furry friends enjoy learning new skills and want to make us happy. Paying attention and teaching dogs commands keeps them from dashing out the front door.

After all, to dogs, it sounds like we’re saying blah blah blah unless we teach them the commands. Training takes time, but it’s so much fun. You will learn much about your K-9 friends and how to make them happy and safe.

Meet Your Experts

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Shawn

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Shawn is a pup fanatic with over 10 years in the pet business. He knows the in's and out's of doggie training, habits, and even rescue missions! When they're not busy cooking up a storm of dog-friendly recipes, he's most likely out adventuring with his own pack.

Shawn is a pup fanatic with over 10 years in the pet business. He knows the in's and out's of doggie training, habits, and even rescue missions! When they're not busy cooking up a storm of dog-friendly recipes, he's most likely out adventuring with his own pack.