How Do I Stop My Dog Running Out The Door

How do I stop my dog running out the door

Dear Hindy,

Every time we open the front door Penny tries to run out. Usually we catch her, but twice we didn’t and she took off. Once my husband caught up with her quickly, the second time she was gone for 2 hours. Thankfully someone found her and called us. If it happens again we might not be so lucky. Please help. Thank you, Jean

How do I Stop My Dog Running Out The Door

Dear Jean,

How terrifying that must have been for all of you, thank goodness she’s always gotten back safely. This really is an urgent situation so let’s get right to it. I’m going to state the obvious but…have everyone in the house be careful when opening the door. No standing with it open, and maybe you can put up a baby gate on the outside of the door in the meantime for extra security.

One of the reasons she may be door dashing (yep, that’s what it’s called) is because she’s bored or under stimulated. If she doesn’t get enough walks and/or play time, correcting that should help.

The training is involved, a little too involved for this forum, but here is the essence of it.

You need to teach Penny impulse control, and you do that by teaching her to “stay,” she moves when you tell her it’s okay to move and you reward her when she listens.

Stand facing her, hand up and palm facing outward then say “stay.” Use any one word you choose to tell her it’s okay to move, then give her a treat or favourite toy as a reward. If she moves before you tell her she can, no reward. Practice this periodically throughout the day, then it’s time to increase the amount of time you ask her to stay.

Once you’ve done that you’ll take a step back, all the time reminding her to stay. Then over time you’ll take another step back than another, rewarding her each time she stays until you tell her she can move.

Repeat this in the vicinity of the front door. As you progress you’ll open the door a crack, then another crack. You see where I’m going with this. You might want to practice this part of the training with a long leash for safety.

A quick note – even though she will one day be great at staying, I still recommend you’re careful about leaving doors open.

Good luck!


Hindy Pearson
I am a dog trainer and behaviour consultant, specialising in working with first time dog owners. Whether you're thinking of getting a dog and aren't sure if it's the right time, or you've been sharing your life with one for awhile but there are issues you can't resolve, I am here for you. No matter where in the world you live I can help.


  1. Amy Shojai, CABC

    This is such an important topic! I teach Bravo the “wait” command — he doesn’t have to sit or down or stand, just not move forward. And he only gets to go through the door when he waits until the release word. Each time he moves forward, the gate (or door) closes. It opens–and if he waits, he gets the release. If he moves forward, door closes again. Dogs learn quickly when they figure out their action makes things happen (or not!).

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I agree Amy. I also taught Jack “wait” and he knows not to move forward until I tell him it’s okay. I mostly use it before crossing every road. I don’t get him to sit either, I don’t find it’s necessary, I just want him to wait before we cross until I say “let’s go.” They do learn quickly, especially when you have a food motivated dog like I do!

  2. M Dawson

    As I was typing my message the pop up came up and I ended up typing into that GRRRRR

    I really would go crazy with a dog like that, so I am glad you have some sterling advice for this desperate dog mom!

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I know they’re so annoying, I’m testing my form so I changed the pop up delay. I find that terrifying!! I once did a home visit for a family who wanted to adopt a dog. For some reason they didn’t have a problem telling me about their dogs that would run out the door to the park across the road. Surely they had to know I was going to report back to the rescue!

  3. beth

    Those are helpful tips to teach a dog to stay. I know you always stress having a good recall, and that’s super important if you have a door dasher.

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Thankfully my front door opens up into a fenced in area should Jack decide to run out, which he doesn’t. It is very worrying if the door opens onto a road, especially a busy one so preventing door dashing can be a matter of life and death.


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