Tip of the Day: Training Your Pet to Stay Inside When the Door Is Open
Owning a pet who bolts through an open door can be frustrating and scary for a pet owner, and often downright dangerous for the animal. A pet who regularly races out as soon as the door is opened runs the risk of injury from getting struck by a car, becoming lost, ingesting harmful substances, and even putting other people or animals in danger.
Teaching your pet to stay inside when a door is opened isn’t as difficult as it sounds, and may mean the difference between life and death for your pet.
Why Pets Bolt
For many pets, a door is not simply a door; it’s an escape hatch to freedom. The reasons a pet may race through any open door or gate vary widely:
- Unneutered males have higher testosterone levels, which can increase and intensify roaming behaviors
- Certain breeds, such as working dogs, may be more independent and interested in exploring
- Personality often comes into play, as some pets are less inclined to stick close to home and family members
- Immediate rewards, such as access to the sights, smells, people, and animals of the world beyond the door, may be enough to reinforce the behavior
Learning When to Wait
Teaching your dog the “wait” command is the ideal solution to stop him or her from running through every opening or entryway. Begin by keeping your pet leashed as you approach a doorway, and use your hand and body to block the door, telling him or her to “wait”. When your pet has waited patiently, release him or her by saying “OK” (your pet is rewarded for good manners by being allowed to cross the barrier).
It may be useful to begin this training inside, using doorways from one room to another, or even the barrier between two rooms, before trying it on an exterior door.
For safety’s sake, a pet should be trained to “wait” at all access points, such as front and back doors, cage doors, and car doors.
Teaching Your Pet to Stay Inside When a Door Opens
Training a freedom-loving pet to stay inside when a door opens is paramount to his or her safety, and should be a top priority. Try the following alternative safety methods:
- Mat training – Create a “doggie area” by the front door using a mat, bed, blanket, or crate. Teach the command “Go to the mat” first, and then practice opening the door while your dog stays in place. Gradually move the mat farther and farther away from the door until it’s in a desirable area.
- Containment – In some instances, a simple containment method, such as a pet gate, fence, or even a strategically placed leash, is helpful in preventing a pet escapee from making a break for it.
Your partners in pet care at The Whole Pet Vet are here for you every step of the way as you work toward optimal health and wellness for your furry family members. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions or concerns!