My last dog training post was about getting your dog back after she escaped the house. But, how do you prevent your dog from bolting out of the door? Bolting either happens when you enter your home, and the dog scoots past you and goes outside. Or, when you are leaving your home and the dog races out the door with you. Many dogs have been hit by cars and killed doing this, and I want to make sure your dog isn’t one of them. So, let’s teach our dogs three impulse control skills.
Impulse Control Skills To Prevent Bolting
- To walk backwards when we open the door to come in the house.
- To wait inside the house when we leave.
- To wait for permission to leave the car.
These are such critically important behaviors, I’m going to write a series of posts on teaching our dogs not to bolt, so don’t forget to subscribe. We’ll start with teaching our dogs to back up when we come home. It’s a very handy when you come home with your arms full. So, grab your clicker and some treats. Let’s train.
To start training your dog to back up, walk directly toward your dog as if you are going to step on him. Please make sure your dog knows you are playing and not trying to attack him. This should be done with a playful laughing attitude. Step toward your dog. Wait for him to hop backwards out of your way, click the hop, and treat. Repeat this game several times. On the fourth or fifth time, say, “Back” before you step toward your dog, and play the game again.
At some point, depending on how quickly your dog catches on, your dog will walk backward when you say “Back.” The first time you see your dog take a step backward without you moving, jackpot and give major praise. If you don’t know what a jackpot is, it means giving your dog several small treats one after another. Jackpots signal to your dog, I really liked what you just did. Do that again. Over the next few training sessions, ask for more. Click your dog for walking two steps backward. Click your dog for walking three steps backward.
Take this game to an open doorway inside your home. With your dog on the opposite side of the doorway, tell your dog to “Back” as you walk toward him through the doorway. Reward him for backing up. Choose a different doorway and play the game again. During your next training session, play the game again, only this time, you’re going to open a door, say, “Back” and shut the door behind you. Do this with every interior door in your house.
If your dog has a long history of bolting, you’ll want him on a leash or a long line for this challenge. Go outside and close the door. Open the front door, cue your dog to back up, and shut the door behind you. Reward richly when he backs up. And when I say richly, I mean chunks of leftover grilled chicken, not a dog biscuit. Dogs remember the good stuff. And since this is a lifesaving skill, don’t skimp on the rewards. Chuck steak is cheap. Toss a two dollar steak on the barbecue grill, chop it up and make super treats for this game. Any skill that can save your dog’s life is worth training with high value rewards. Practice having your dog back up from the front door and jackpot, jackpot, jackpot.
Congratulations, you’ve taught your dog to walk backwards when you open the front door. Now comes the hard part.
The Hardest Thing To Train
The hard part has nothing to do with training your dog. The hard part is training yourself. Every single time you walk through the front door, tell your dog to back up. Do you have groceries in your arms? Tell your dog to back up. Got a splitting headache? Tell your dog to back up. Kids are bickering? Tell your dog to back up. Did your boss chew you out for something your stupid co-worker did and all you want is a glass of wine? Tell your dog to back up. It’s pouring rain and you’ve got mud on your pretty dress? That’s right, tell your dog to back up when you get in the house. Every. Single. Time. It will become a reflex for both of you, and that’s a good thing.
Now that your dog isn’t scooting out of the door when you come home, stay tuned. My next post is about teaching your dog to wait inside the house when you open the door. Don’t forget to subscribe, and remember do gently with your dog, and yourself, too.