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How To Not Let Your Dog Escape Out Your Door!

*This is a post I wrote on the nextdoor app after seeing post after post of missing dogs which is why it is in rough format.

These are not the only ways to help this issue, but it is a good start!

Preventing Escapes

Teach your dog that running out the door isn’t allowed.

  • There are several ways to do this. The way I like to teach them to not run out the door is by opening the door, having the dog on the leash, and then body blocking the door from the dog. Dogs are generally very excited about going outside. The first step is to patiently wait for them to calm down, and have them sit. Then back out of the door. If the dog moves, say “ah” and have it sit again. Repeat the process. Eventually when you move out of the way the dog will pause wondering what they have to do to get what they want which is to go out.

  • Once the dog freezes but doesn’t make an attempt to exit, give it a treat & say “okay” or “release” and let the dog out the door. This teaches impulse control, establishes boundaries and helps create a bond through training.

Have every guest knock.

  • Know which doors are open/closed in case they don’t knock.

Use video doorbell.

  • I use one, if works for me, so I can know when guests are arriving which often allows time to put the pups in safe locations.

Teach a place command.

  • Have the dog go to that place mat every time a person enters the door. If you do this often enough with the right technique, a person walking through the door will simply become the cue for the dog to go to its place.

Teach and implied sit and/or down.

  • Proof the command until the dog can stay through distractions and with the door open. A good goal for this is to be able to check your mail with door open, and have the dog be able to hold that command until you are back.

Name train your dog.

  • Your dog should have a physiological response to its name meaning that when you say it's name it should turn around and look at you, or at least pause. That split second the dog gives you its attention because it’s done this could be imperative.

Teach an invisible barrier such as the road or your threshold.

Utilize dog gates, x-pens and crates for containment.

Have a GPS tracker on your dog.


Getting An Escaped Dog Home

Do not run toward your dog!

  • Our natural instinct is to run towards the dog. They will think that’s a game. If you run away it engages their prey drive which is enjoyable for them. It will get their attention - dogs are amazing predators and are attuned to minute movements.

Practice a routine before it happens!

Utilize Treats

  • If you can find the most exciting treat to your dog before the event happens, and only give it to a couple times a year. Preserve the novelty of the treat. Make the treat as perfunctory as possible. A dogs nose out stretches us so much that it’s hard for us to fathom. Seafood such as dried oysters and anchovies are perfect for this must get attention situation.

Utilize Toys

  • By the same token have a toy that your dog loves that they only get to play with very very infrequently. Pull that out or the super high value treat and you’re a step in the right direction.

Do Create A Negative Association About Grabbing Your Dog's Collar/Harness

  • It is really important that you do not create a negative association for the dog when it comes to grabbing your dog's collar or harness which of course is necessary for recovering your pup. I have had boarding client's in the past who have created a pattern for their dog where everytime they grab the dog's collar the dog goes in the crate. This is percieved as negative punshiment to the dog.

  • If you do need to grab your dog's collar or harness for whatever reason pair it with a toy or treat to mitigate the creation of a negative association.


There is no substitute at the end of the day for taking the time to train your dog. Training your dog ensures it’s safety.

All of dog training comes down to your bond with the dog (owner engagement) and impulse control (for example not bolting out every door.)

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