Door Dashing

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by vangorm, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. vangorm Well-Known Member

    Hi guys! I'm new, so I hope I explain this properly.

    I have a three year old poodle mix that when we adopted, did pretty well. She had to be housetrained which wasn't too hard and she didn't know any commands, so she was basically a blank slate. I even changed her name(not that she responded to her old one).

    One of the big things I needed to teach her early on was her recall as we don't have a fenced yard and I wanted her to be able to play/be trained outside with Bella(the older dog) without a long lead getting in her way. She caught on pretty quickly. She loves fetch, so I sort of built off of that and she would follow me around outside, come when called, etc. despite distractions. One day I had her outside and we were playing and she shot off. Maybe she got bored of the game, maybe she heard something, who knows. But she had -never- done this before. When I called her, she didn't come. I went to go get her and she made it into this big game of chase. I'd get close and she'd do the little play stance(butt up in the air), and run off again. I know it's reinforcing it by chasing her, but she doesn't respond to commands to come back, I've tried bribing her with treats, toys, and even running the other way to make it a 'follow me!' type of chase game. Our best chance to get her is to chase her until she's peeing/investigating something or until she gets tired and lays down. It's dangerous though. We don't live in a heavily populated area(we see maybe 6-7 cars pass our house a day), but she's run by a main street before and has nearly been hit.

    The weird thing is that now I can trust her off leash again if I let her off the leash. For instance, if I have her sit before I open the door, open the door, walk through the door, call her outside, and tell her to 'stay close', she will. She'll play fetch and won't venture outside the yard. If she gets out by herself(ie. she slips outside while we get a delivery, etc.) she'll run outside the yard and the same chase game happens. I've also noticed an association with the leash means that she has to stay close. I've dropped the leash a few times while walking her and she won't go out any further than what the leash allows. Now what's interesting about this is that when Annie goes out to pee during the winter, it's on a long lead(I have an auto immune disorder and can't be in the cold too long). One time I had her in a sit-stay while I put the leash on, gave her the release and she ran to go pee.. Apparently I didn't hook it on correctly and the leash fell off. Of course, I panicked but I didn't try to chase her in case she started the game again. Once she peed, I called her back and she came without an issue.

    I'm not sure what else I can do to stop the door dashing. I've done on-leash and off-leash work in the doorway and on the doorstep. As soon as she slips outside without our permission, the obedience goes out the window. It's just so bizarre to me that she can have perfect recall in a dog park(I once called her when she was in the middle of a game of chase with another dog and she stopped and came immediately), but she doesn't come when there's nothing to play with or do.

    Any ideas?
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  2. sara Moderator

    Well, I had a dog that would run out open doors (but didn't run away,) however she was deaf, and we didn't have a fenced yard, so this could have been very dangerous. Thankfully, all I had to do to fix the issue is ALWAYS make her wait for people to go through first (not because of pack leader crap, but because she needed to learn only to go out when invited from someone already through the door), she learned quickly, that she wasn't allowed to go out unless invited from a person already out... and Scout is a VERY willing and eager to please dog, so once she learned what was expected, she quit the bad behaviour. Now, that likely won't solve your problem, but you could try.

    A dog behaviourist friend of mine that I stayed with for a couple of months, teaches dogs to be scared of doors by slamming them in front of their noses (sometimes hitting the dog). the first time she tried it with Oliver, we had a huge fight. this is NOT the way to fix the problem!
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  3. vangorm Well-Known Member

    Yeah, we're normally pretty good with it since the leash we tie her to can't reach inside and since she dashes, I always get her to wait until I'm outside. I'll try to be more conscientious about it though and make sure everyone else in the house is more aware of that though!

    Oh, I agree. I had hired a trainer for her to help with this and I just hated the methods she was trying to get me to use. Like if Annie pulled on the leash at all, I was supposed to yank her upwards. Just.. why? D: And if Annie did any sort of jumping, I was supposed to step on the paws/give a good knee to the chest.. Needless to say, she is no longer our trainer.
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  4. Dlilly Honored Member

    One of my foster dogs, Mikey, also had a bad habit of door dashing. I started out by having her sit-stay by the door while I opened it, doing short training sessions everyday, then I would have my brother at the door and have her sit/stay while he walked in. I had Mikey for a couple months, and by the time she was adopted she would sit every time I went to the door and wait, I didn't even need to say 'stay' or hold my hand out!

    Here's a video of our early training sessions. I hope this helps!

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  5. vangorm Well-Known Member

    Ooh, that's great Dlilly! Thank you! I haven't tried doing a training session just focusing on the door. So you think that works better/will possibly work better than focusing on the lack of obedience when she sneaks out? Kind of preventing the issue altogether?
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  6. Mutt Experienced Member

    First of all welcome to the forum:)
    A few things I would teach her:
    - invisible boundaries (basically means that for instance where the grass stops she may not pass without permission, kind of like the door thing only than in open places)
    - a good stay (sometimes it works better to just give your dog a stay and then approach them other than to call them back to you)
    - impuls control (always good to learn)
    Boef would sometimes sneak out (when someone left the door open and our yard wasn't fenced yet) and run to a certain spot she thought was very, very interesting. Though our yard is now fenced I have stopped the behavior by impuls control & invisible boundaries.
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  7. threenorns Well-Known Member

    dandy used to do that all the time, largely bec when we lived in the bush, i would just fling open the door and say "git!" - i was often at the end of my wits by that time so going through the door was an extremely high-energy event.

    now i can open the back door, go down the stairs to the yard, get the tether, bring it back up, and he won't step through the door because i've taught him the "wait" command.

    "stay" is specific: "freeze in that position until i tell you otherwise".

    "wait" is softer: "do whatever you want, just do not come any further".

    to transition from "stay" to "wait", i would make all the expression and body movement of stay, but not as imperatively, and i'd say "wait" in a moderate tone. if he went closer to the door, i would repeat "wait!" more firmly and if he drew back from the door, i'd give him praise using "wait" - "wait! yes! wait! good boy!". sit, lie down, stand on your head, i don't care what you do but you don't put your head past the door frame.

    as for the merry chase thing, that doesn't happen much any more - not for longer than 2 or 3 minutes. i just catch his eye and say "yumyum!" and he comes running for what is sure to be one of his absolute favouritest treats ever.
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  8. vangorm Well-Known Member

    How do you teach invisible boundaries? I'm a bit spoiled with Bella(my other dog). She sort of picked it up all by herself. Even when we moved, she figured it out within a few days. That sounds like a great thing to teach Annie though!

    Her stay could definitely be improved. I've just decided to start over with her with that since I think my family uses it too loosely and it's almost untrained it in a way(depending on the moment). Kind of where threenorns is mentioning the difference between stay and wait, for my family they're sort of melted those two commands together based on their 'mood'. Obviously, that's not good! Do you think it's better to just retrain the behavior with the same command/hand cue or should I change the command/hand cue altogether? I took an obedience class with Annie around 5 or 6 months ago and the trainer was having me reteach Annie's 'come' as something else. She actually sort of hinted at only me knowing the command/using it so that my family couldn't overuse it or ruin it for her(like when Annie gets out and when she does come when called, they used to just take her inside and put her in my room/crate.. kind of negative reinforcement for something we want her to do). I'm not sure if it's right or not but I do know that my family definitely needs training just as much as my dog does! I'm not surprised that she's confused outside.

    As for impulse control, this is an ongoing battle. Working on it though! I wonder if you guys have better ideas for methods or if I'm doing it right..? Right now I put her in a sit-stay or down-stay and use one of her toys(one of her favorites) and put it in front of her. If she doesn't go for it then I say okay and let her play with it. I've tried treats before, but if I don't correct her fast enough for getting up, they're gone faster than I can try to get her to drop it. The toy she'll reliably drop immediately and work for/be motivated to stay for it, so I hope that's the right thing to use that instead of food. Once she reliably stays when it's still, I start moving it around a bit. If she stays, I'll say 'okay!' and she gets some play time with it. And so on. I'm not sure if this is something I should implement the clicker on since the clicker is more food related(praise wise) and I think she'd be in 'treat mode' if I did. I haven't tried, but is that correct? Also, when I so the impulse control stuff, should I wait for eye contact before praising and releasing her or is it(in your opinion) okay for her to be focused on the toy?

    You guys are so helpful, I truly appreciate it!
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  9. 648117 Honored Member

    I do "stays" and "waits" a bit different to you.

    "Stay" means stay there until I come back, stand next to you and then release you (obedience stay). Usually I walk behind Holly before standing next to her. The idea is that she is not to break the stay until I get to her and tell her she can with a "ok" and a pat - I like to make there be a physical touch to help her understand that she has to wait till I get to her.
    Whereas the "wait" command is used for obedience recalls, dinner time, agility, and general things around the house. The "wait" means that she is released when I say "ok", she does not have to wait for me to get back to her.
    Both were taught the same way, the only difference is that if I want to call her out from a distance then I use "wait". Basicially it is just to try and maintain a good "stay" for obedience so she knows that I will never call her out of a "stay" so she will not anticipate.

    But I guess if you arn't looking to do competitive obedience then you can have whatever criteria you like as long as it's clear to the dog.
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  10. threenorns Well-Known Member

    yeah - your way is more formal than mine. i'm not very good with absolutes, me. seriously: one of the reasons i started using meal times for training sessions is because i kept getting distracted and forgetting all about them!
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  11. Golden River of Dreams Well-Known Member

    GOOD for you! I wish more people would stand up for their dogs like that. :)
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  12. Mutt Experienced Member

    Invisible boundaries mean that there is an ┬┤invisible┬┤ line the dog may not cross without permission/untill released. This usualy is a clear transition from two kinds of surfaces (grass to pavement or wooden floor to stone floor for example). The dog may anything as long as he stay within the perimeter.
    Here is a neat video about how to teach it:

    You could keep the command that you are using right now, but if you are not sure if your family will use it in the right way I would choose an other command and keep it to yourself.

    You are on the right way with the impuls control right now! You could use the food as a distraction if she gets better at it. A clicker isn't really nessecary as it isn't a behavior which requires precision and if you have the idea it will make it harder for her I wouldn't use it (I personally don't use it with these kind of behaviors).
    For me impuls control means acting controlled in a situation. So the dog has to keep calm and stay were he is and not give in to the temptation. If I want them to look at me, than I will ask for 'focus'. But it isn't a requirement. My dogs have to waite before they may eat untill I give the releasecue for example. Sometimes I ask for a focus before releasing them, so they will now watch at me once in a while in the hope that this will earn them their release. Eye contact is always a good thing here (especially if they want something from me), but not a requirement. I also sometimes just keep a treat in my hand with a stretched arm (away from me). I don't say anything than but the dogs will immediately look at me in order to get their treat.
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  13. vangorm Well-Known Member

    I think for stays I want her to stay in the position I put her in. That's what I've been requiring so far, so I guess I'll stick with that. She's pretty good with distance stays and me being out of sight, but duration needs to be improved. Like if we have the door open to sign for a delivery, I don't think she could stay that long because of the incredible temptation of new person+outside world.

    Golden River of Dreams: Thank you! :) It was sad to have to 'fire' her, seeing as she was affordable and close. But Annie's trust & health > money & convenience.

    Mutt: Ooh, that looks so great! I wonder if instead of using it to teach her to stay in the yard(which she's already perfect at when I initiate letting her off leash), I could make it so she won't go past the doorstep that she escapes on without permission. When she escapes, she has to run onto a small 'patio'(about 4'x4'), then run down stairs and she's off. If I got a large door mat to put on the patio, do you think it could be used the same way? My worry with teaching it directly on the grass when she escapes is that to get from our house to the grass, she has to run on pavement/sidewalk.

    Oh, so you mix it up with the focus stuff to sort of keep them on their toes? I guess a comparison would be how when a dog knows a behavior perfectly(ie. sit), you randomize when they get a treat reward, so it's sort of a 'maybe they'll call me out, maybe they won't' sort of thing?

    Annie and I had a play/train session today in the yard and she had a mini breakthrough! I kept switching her on and off leash depending on the distractions I could see. I purposely went longer than I should since I think when she stopped listening as well outside, it was because I overdid it. She wasn't necessarily bored, but her interest would sort of fade in and out of the training session. At one point she heard some kids coming home from school and ran around the house. I called her back and she did her play/chase me stance(as she does in her escapes) and started trying to find the kids again. Waited a minute and called her again and that got her attention! She popped her head around the house and I held up a treat and said "Annie, come here!" and she came right to me! No game when she got into arms reach, just jumped right in my arms and she got a click, a huuuuge amount of treats and a tug-of-war game. When she laid down behind me to cool off, I picked her up and we headed inside. I was super proud of her! She loves kids almost as much as she loves other dogs so that was great. <3

    The main reason I tempted her with boredom was to kind of confirm my suspicions. It doesn't really help with the door dashing issue, but if I can get her a good recall despite temptation around the neighborhood, at least I know she's that much safer.
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  14. threenorns Well-Known Member

    that second bit, there, where you called her and held up the treat? that's "yumyum". all i have to do is yell "YUMYUM!" and he'll come run-run because he knows there's a pay-off.

    basically, to put an end to the "catch me if you can" thing, just make it overpoweringly more valuable to come to you than it is to stay away. try having some ultra-deluxe treats (try snippets of smoked salmon or gravlax or fish paste) that she'll get at absolutely no other time.

    about the barrier: the door mat would work but reinforce with scent - drip a line of drops of scented oil. use something rather obnoxious, such as oregano and garlic or onion and chili powder (i had hot peppern down originally, but that's what i put on the garbage bags - when i kept them in a closed shed - to deter raccoons, foxes, and skunks), something that makes her stop and sniff warily bec now her focus is not on getting out there but on the barrier itself.

    heck, WD-40 might do the trick.
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  15. vangorm Well-Known Member

    Ooh, yes! I guess if I'm having a hard time getting her attention I'll say 'treat!'. She and Bella have that one down pat. Haha.

    Do you happen to know of treats that may be of high value that don't need to be refrigerated and have a decent length shelf life? The kitchen isn't too far away, but if I/my family could just reach onto the table by the door and grab them, they'd be able to keep her in sight. In the mean time, I'll try to find something she likes more than hot dogs or I'll switch to a new kind of treat and make hot dogs the high value ones.

    Thank you again for all of your help!
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  16. threenorns Well-Known Member

    dried/smoked fish - lasts forever.

    but what might help is if you just get into the habit of keeping a little baggie of them in your pocket. ppl wonder why dandy walks so nicely, lol.

    since it's only to be an occasional treat (i'm assuming she's not getting out every hour, on the hour, lol), you can relax the health rules, too - try snippets of bacon or bologna or, if you're in canada, President's Choice Nutrition First Chicken Strips. they're from thailand, not china, and no problems at all - dandy's been getting them for years.

    don't be generous with the treat, either - just little little snippets. heck, with dandy, sometimes his reward is to sniff my bacon-scented fingers and lick the grease off - he's just as happy as if i'd given him the entire rasher.
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  17. sara Moderator

    what about the freeze dried liver? Really stinky, and my dogs go nutzo over them :)
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  18. threenorns Well-Known Member

    if that's what works, use it. those are part of dandy's "walk" treats, which are different from his training treats (which are aka "breakfast" and "dinner", lol)

    for yumyum, it's the chicken strip, smoked salmon, or hot dog.
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  19. vangorm Well-Known Member

    I'll look for the fish stuff! We're in a landlocked state(USA), so fish products are a bit hard to come by/not as appetizing to people out here, but there's sure to be some somewhere! I'll look for the liver stuff too and see what she prefers. :)

    Oh, no. I would be bald from pulling my hair out by now if she were getting out hourly or even daily. It's around 1-2 times a month at the most that she dashes.
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  20. threenorns Well-Known Member

    ah - okay, good thing you mentioned that - i thought it was, like, once a day or a few times a week.

    to prevent it from backfiring, use the same treat for recall exercises - you don't want her thinking "hmmm... what do i do to get some of that, now...?"
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