Free Consultation


How to Stop Your Dog From Bolting Out the Front Door

How to Stop Your Dog From Bolting Out the Front Door

The Dreaded Door Dash

Have you ever had one of those moments where your heart just about stops when your dog makes a break for it the second you open the front door? It’s the stuff of nightmares for any pet parent. One minute you’re going about your business, the next your pup is zipping out into the big, wide world, completely disregarding your frantic calls to come back.

As a dog trainer, I’ve seen this heart-pounding scenario play out far too many times. In fact, I’d say 9 out of 10 of the homes I visit have dogs that are practically jumping the gun, ready to make a mad dash the second that front door creaks open. It’s what we in the biz like to call “door dashing,” and it’s one of the leading causes of dogs escaping from home and ending up in dangerous situations – like darting into traffic or getting lost.

As I often demonstrate on my show “Lucky Dog”, door dashing is a critical element of dog training that far too often gets overlooked. But fear not, my fellow pet parents – I’m here to walk you through a step-by-step process to fix this problem for good. Are you ready to take back control of your front door and keep your canine companion safely inside? Let’s do this!

The Tools of the Trade

Before we dive in, there are a couple key tools you’ll need to have on hand:

  • A 20-foot lead
  • A bag of your dog’s favorite treats

It’s also important that your pup is good and hungry when you start this training – you want them extra motivated by those tasty rewards.

With your supplies gathered, you’re all set to begin the process of conditioning your dog to the front door. And the best part? It’s surprisingly simple, as long as you’re willing to put in the time and be consistent.

Step-by-Step: Conquering the Door Dash

Alright, let’s get started! Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Approach the Door

Take your dog to the front door and attach the 20-foot lead, but don’t hold onto it just yet. Just let it drag along the floor as you approach the entrance.

Step 2: Open and Close

Crack the door open just an inch or two, then quickly shut it again. Chances are, your dog is going to try and make a break for it, even with that tiny opening. Just wait patiently for them to settle down – this may mean they back away from the door or even sit or lie down. The key is that they’re no longer fixated on darting out.

Step 3: Increase the Opening

Now open the door a bit further, about 3 inches this time, then shut it right away. Again, wait for your dog to back away and calm down before moving on.

Step 4: Repeat and Expand

Continue this process, incrementally increasing the door’s opening each time – 5 inches, then 7 inches, then all the way. The goal is to condition your pup to the idea that the door opening doesn’t automatically mean “time to make a break for it.” They need to learn to wait patiently, even as the threshold expands.

Step 5: Reward and Reinforce

Once your dog has mastered staying put no matter how far the door opens, it’s time to really hammer home the lesson. Fling that door wide open, and if they don’t dart out, shower them with praise and tasty treats. This positive reinforcement will cement the behavior you want to see.

Step 6: The “OK” Command

The final step is teaching your dog the “OK” command. This is how they’ll know when it’s actually acceptable to cross the threshold. Open the door, have them hold their position for a few seconds, then say “OK” as you guide them out on the leash. The key is that they’re never allowed to bolt through that door on their own – it’s always on your terms.

Now, I know what you might be thinking – this sounds like a lot of work! But trust me, most dogs pick up on this training in just 5 to 10 repetitions. By the time you’re opening the door all the way, they’ll simply watch it happen without even twitching a muscle.

The secret is to beat them at their own game. Door dashing is often a fun, rewarding “game” that dogs have learned they can win by darting out the door. But when you make that game not-so-fun anymore, they’ll quickly give up the habit.

Troubleshooting Tips

Of course, no training is ever 100% foolproof. There may be times when your dog tries to make a break for it, even after all this conditioning. So here are a couple extra tricks you can have up your sleeve:

  • If they start to bolt, quickly close the door or step on the leash to block their escape.
  • You can also try making a loud noise, like a firm “Ah-ah!” to startle them and stop them in their tracks.

And remember, baby steps are key here. Don’t rush through the incremental door openings – make sure your pup has truly mastered each stage before moving on. Some dogs may even seem content at an 8-inch opening, then suddenly try to dart out at 9 inches. If that happens, just take it back a few inches and keep conditioning.

With patience and consistency, I promise you can beat this door dashing habit for good. No more heart-stopping moments, no more frantic chases through the neighborhood. Just a dog that happily waits for your OK to venture out. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

So what are you waiting for? Put these techniques into practice and let me know how it goes! I’d love to hear your success stories on the iHaveDogs website. Safe travels through that front door, my friends!

Tags :
Share This :

Get Updates with our



Join our passionate community of dog lovers. Embrace the journey of companionship with Ihavedogs, where every dog gets the best of care and love.