Stop Your Dog’s Door Darting
Door Darting is an Extremely Dangerous Dog Behavior!
If your dog busts through the wrong door and runs, he might be killed by a passing vehicle.
It doesn’t matter whether it is the front door, back door, or car door; your dog should learn to respect doors and not charge through them.
Many of you may have seen the video I shot of my dog waiting in the car while I pump gas.
Not only am I sure that my dog is NOT going to charge through that car door, I also know that by leaving it open like that while I pump gas, she is there making sure that I am safe.
And, honestly, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to teach your dog to respect all doors; just a little patience and time training.
Understanding the Behavior
Most fun things happen OUTSIDE of the house.
You know how kids like going out and “doing” something on the weekend? Most don’t want to stay home like every other day of the week.
After all, more fun things happen outside the home than inside the home.
In order to combat this, try and play some games and ensure that fun is had inside as well as outside.
- A tether
- A leash
- A clicker
- Great treats
- A treat bag
- And your dog
I begin, at first, working with a front or back door at home.
Pick a door that, if a mistake is inadvertently made, the dog will not end up running into a busy street.
PUT YOUR DOG ON A SPECIFICALLY MEASURED TETHER
You can’t always control the environment.
Accidents happen and dogs can get out the door and end up running down the street in the blink of an eye.
You need to have a way to control his charging or darting behavior and to keep him from rewarding himself by bolting out the door and running around.
This tether can be attached to the wall, or another door, but will be too short to allow your dog to get out.
It is crucial to begin to teach the dog that just because he WANTS to go outside in a flash doesn’t mean that he can!
Once the tether has been measured and the dog is clipped on, open the door.
Chances are that the dog will immediately charge the door and try to get outside and by doing so he will hit the end of the tether and in some ways correct his own bad behavior.
At first he will be a little frustrated and disoriented (after all, he has likely never been tethered before) and he is used to running out open doors. It is at this moment that you would tell him to sit.
By giving him a command, you are giving him a way to avoid the correction that he just gave himself.
Now back him up and do this until the dog is patiently sitting instead of continuously rushing the door!
Be sure to click and reward for good behaviors and listening to commands.
Transition to a Leash
You don’t want your dog to think that every time you put a leash on him he will be able to rush through the door!
This is a common denominator with why door darting exists. Again, we put them on leash and let them fly out the door to go potty, chase squirrels or go for a walk.
In a way, he needs to be desensitized to it!
You will use a leash in the same basic way, and reward for good behavior.
Then move him closer and open the door. If he is struggling to get out, simply wait until he gives up, sits, and looks at you.
Once he has conquered this piece, let the leash go slack so that he has more of an opportunity to make a mistake.
If he again rushes the door, quickly close it in his face.
I want my dogs to realize that unless they are given a release command, the door may shut on them.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to shut them IN the door or wound them; I just want them to have a healthy respect for the door.
As the dog is learning to respect the door, step toward the door as if you are going to go out. If your dog gets up and begins rushing that way, quickly close the door.
Do this until you can approach the door while the dog sits patiently and waits.
Work this until you can get out of the door alone.
Teach the dog that you can open the door from the outside and he still can’t rush out of it to be with you.
Again, you could use the tether, or the technique of shutting the door quickly, if the dog tries to rush out.
Eventually, you will want your dog to join you and go out the door.
Be sure to only do this on command.
The dog should learn to respect the door and only cross it on command.
Don’t use the command often!!!
If you are constantly calling your dog out the door, the early-on respect that he learned dissipates, turns to excitement, and reverts back to door charging!
Then, begin working the same way with all of your doors, including the car door!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.