My Dog Runs Out the Door

dog escape artist running away

My Dog Runs Out the Door! Tips on Stopping the Escape Artist

Almost 20 percent of dogs that find themselves surrendered to shelters are there because they escape or run out the door anytime that it opens. Many times, dogs run out the door simply because there are lots of things outside that are far more interesting than inside the home.  Preventing and eliminating your dog from running out the door is often as simple as creating a situation where it is more rewarding for the dog to be inside than outside.

my dog runs out the doorThere are a variety of ways to to prevent dogs from escaping their home.  But first, you must control the doors.  If you have small children or other people in the home that are constantly leaving the door open and the dog has access to freely run out, then they are developing a habit that will be more difficult to correct later on.  Once you have control of the doors at home, you will want to move on to training the dog not to run or go out without permission.  The two ways of teaching this, that we prefer, are the implied sit and stay at the door and the place command.  I, personally, find the place command to be more reliable, but I will explain both methods below.

Teach an implied sit and stay to keep your dog from running out the door

dog sitting by doorThe implied sit and stay by the door can be a useful behavior to teach any dog.  This can begin as a puppy and can even be taught to older dogs.  First we start off by teaching our dog or puppy to sit.  This command is relatively simple and can be accomplished by simply baiting or luring the dog into a sit and then pairing the command “Sit” with the behavior.  As our dog becomes more proficient in executing the sit command, we will simply teach the implied stay command by rewarding the dog for performing the sit command for extended periods of time and waiting until they are released with a pat on the head and the word “Okay”.  Once our dog will sit and stay with some relative consistency, we will begin to introduce this series of previously learned behaviors each time we exit a door.  In time our dog will begin to offer these behaviors automatically, without being told to sit, and at this time, we will simply stop saying the command.  Then, each time we go to exit the house, our dog will sit, stay and wait patiently to be released to go through the door.  Be sure to reward or reinforce this behavior every time to ensure that the dog will continue it.  With some consistency, our dog will believe that they only way to go out the door is to first sit and then wait to receive permission to exit.

Teach your dog a place command to keep your dog from running out the door

The “Place” command is one that is relatively simple to teach but has many uses within the home.

There are some basic rules with the place command.  Listed below are some tips on making the place command a successful one.

Your place mat needs to be a different color and a different texture from the floor it will lay on.
Say place once.  If your dog doesn’t go to place,guide your dog in the direction of the place mat until the dog goes to place. The stay is implied for place.
All four paws need to be on the mat.
Keep place positive.  You want your dog to have a positive association with the place mat.  Let your dog have bones and treats while on place to keep your dog wanting to go.
Never correct the dog on their place.
Your place mat needs to be an appropriate size for your dog.
Remember the 3 D’s – Distance, Distractions, and Duration.  When your dog learns the place command, begin to gradually increase the distance, duration and distractions.  Don’t drastically increase all three at one time.  You want to increase them gradually.

Download the Instructions for Teaching the Place Command to Your Dog

At Highland Canine Training, LLC, we specialize in rehabilitating behavior problems and helping dog owners resolve problems with their dogs. If you need help or advice in treating dog behavior problems or a dog that is constantly running out the door, please feel free to call us at 866.200.2207 or email us at We offer free in-home evaluations and offer affordable and effective solutions to all dog behavior problems. This article is the fourth in a series of information on Treating Dog Behavior Problems. Be sure to follow the links below to learn more about the topics in this series.