“Success will never be a big step in the future, success is a small step taken just now.”
~ Jonatan Mårtensson
This lesson is as important as housebreaking because it can so easily cost your dog their life or their home. Thousands of dogs end up in shelters each year picked up as strays because they are lost.
To start teaching your dog not to bolt through open doors simply never allow them to lead you through a door way. Make it a fact of life that you always pause for a moment before you enter or exit an exterior door, and movement is on your cue. Each time you enter or depart through an exterior door make sure your dog steps through slightly behind you. You can easily arrange for this by blocking your dog with your body and/or holding their leash at the back of your body.
It is a good idea, to have your dog sit quietly for a moment or two on the stoop after you exit the house. If the dog learns to pause as opposed to flying down the steps, it will prevent them from pulling you off the porch, while you are trying to close and lock your door.
Practice with your dog properly moving through doors, with you but, to drive the “no bolting” point home, also practice how to behave when the door is being answered. Pick a location in your home, convenient for you, whether you are accepting a delivery or a visitor will be entering. (Their crate, a certain chair or about 6 ft back from the door in a sit stay, where they can be seen big, quiet and paying attention)
To practice have one member of the family outside and another inside, the outside person will knock on the door and/or ring the doorbell. When the dog reacts to the sound the inside person will pick up the dog’s leash and lead him to the chosen spot and praise lavishly. Practice this several times in a row, at different times of the day and night, over several days until you see that when your dog hears someone at the door he automatically moves to his spot.
Once your dog begins to move willingly into their spot each time they hear a knock or the doorbell, begin teaching that they will be staying there while you move away. Do this by telling your dog to stay and taking one or two steps away from the dog. Stay close enough to correct the dog with an AHHT sound and putting them back into place with praise. If possible before they can get up and move completely from the spot.
From this point each time you practice move a little further away and stay away a little longer before you return to your dog with praise. Do this until you can leave your dog, go to the door and count to 25 with your back to your dog.
Once your dog becomes reliable at sit/stay calmly in their spot while you are at the door, you will now open the door. Your dog is likely to become excited and move when the door opens. If they move, simply AHHT and put them back in their space. Practice this until the dog will reliably stay in their spot, while you stand at the door with your back to them as if accepting a delivery.
After this point you will want to practice with answering the door for a guest to enter (invite friends over for pizza and practice) One family member correct the dog while the other accepts the guests and delivery. Your main objective here is for your dog to stay in their spot, not bark at, run up to, or jump on your guests.
If you practice with your dog three – four short sessions per day most dogs will learn the behavior in two weeks. The less you practice the longer it will take.
Keep in mind, 2 weeks of diligent practice will yield a lifetime of safety for your dog.