Dog darting is a common and extremely dangerous behavior in dogs. Dogs that do this usually dash out the door or sneak out whenever their owners aren’t paying attention. It’s a very frustrating behavior for owners and very dangerous for dogs as they dash out and take off running, sometimes towards busy streets. Dogs that show this kind of behavior have problems when it comes to impulse control. Fixing this problem requires owners to teach their dogs how to have self-control while preventing this behavior from happening.
Fortunately, there are a few things dog owners can do around the house to prevent their dogs from darting out the door and keeping them safe.
The 3 main causes of dog darting
As mentioned earlier, dog darting is a problem related to impulse control. It can be extremely self-rewarding as dogs are able to run freely as soon as they dart out the door and, if the owners try to run after them, it becomes a game of catch which they love. The best way to deal with a behavioral problem in dogs is to know what causes it in the first place. Only then can owners address the root problem instead of simply preventing the outcome which won’t change a dog’s behavior. The main causes of dog darting are:
1. Looking for new experiences
This is common with dogs that spend most of their day indoors. Because they rarely get to spend time playing and exploring the outdoors, it can become a fun and exciting place full of new smells, sights, and other dogs to play with. This results in dogs becoming eager to escape at every opportunity so they can have some fun outdoors. As soon as they see the door is open, they’ll take the first chance they get to dash out.
If this is your dog’s case, show your dog that there’s as much to do and explore indoors and that the outdoors are not that exciting. You can do this by playing games and teaching your dog new tricks whenever you’re indoors and, whenever you’re outdoors let your dog sniff around and play.
2. Built-up energy
Dogs that have a lot of built-up energy will take any opportunity they have for some extra exercise. And, if that means having their owners run after them, the better. If this is the case with your dog, you’ll need to give your dog more opportunities to exercise. Go for long walks, runs, hikes or, if you don’t have the time for that, consider hiring a dog walker. That way, once your dog has spent all of its energy, it’ll relax as soon as it gets home.
3. Exploring phase
Some natural behaviors commonly found in wolves are still present in some domestic dogs. In the wild, canines go through a phase where they start leaving the den and explore the world. That way they can learn how to hunt, socialize and protect themselves. Dogs also have a phase, while they’re still young, where they’re eager to explore the world. This is usually between four and eight months old and some dogs may find dog darting irresistible.
If this is the case with your dog, all you can do is be patient. Your dog will grow out of this phase and, meanwhile, there are several ways you can prevent this behavior.
5 things dog owners can do to prevent their dogs from running out the door
Whether dog owners aren’t able to take the time to correct this behavior or they’re doing so but want some extra security, there are ways to prevent dogs from darting out the door. Here are a few solutions dog owners can use:
- Create a distraction: Show your dog that exciting things happen away from the door. To do this, grab a handful of small treats and, whenever you approach the front door and you see your dog is right behind you, throw the treats a few feet away from the door. That way your dog will be too busy going after the treats instead of running out the door. Play this game often even if you’re not about to open the door to get your dog used to this game.
- Using baby gates: Installing some inexpensive and pressure-mounted baby gates will serve as an emergency barrier to prevent your dog from getting close to the door. The gate needs to be high enough so your dog isn’t able to jump it.
- Using an outdoor exercise pen: Install an exercise pen on your front porch so that, if your dog ends up being able to run out the door, the exercise pen will stop it on its tracks immediately.
- Using a leash: Attach a chew-proof leash to a heavy piece of furniture or anywhere where it’s safely secured. Whenever you move towards the door to open it, make it a habit to attach the leash to your dog before opening the door. Leaving a sticky note on the door is a great way to remind everyone to do this before it’s too late. But of course, make sure you don’t leave your dog on the leash unsupervised as it’s not safe.
Making sense of it all
Owning a dog prone to dog darting can be very frustrating and even put the dog’s life in danger. Fortunately, there are several systems dog owners can put in place that will help prevent this behavior and keep their dogs safe while they work towards training their dogs to not run outside the door.
If you have some outdoor space that you would like your dog to enjoy but don’t have a fence in place, consider installing an invisible dog fencing system. This might be a great solution so your dog can safely explore your backyard without you worrying it’ll run away.