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 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.