Hello. So, I have a mutt my family rescued from a shelter, and he's been with us for almost two years. He's an amazing dog, but he runs away. A lot. And by a lot, i mean that we've all lost count of how many times he's bolted out the door. There have been several occasions where he was almost hurt, or could have been killed. I worry about him all the time, we all do. I've done research, but still can't find a solution or a reason for his behavior. He seems to think its a game. Any advice?
Dogs do things that benefit them. So why is he running outside? What does he get from it that he doesn’t get otherwise? Perhaps he enjoys the exercise and/or the attention? At some point he was indirectly rewarded, whether it was just by getting to run, smell his favorite tree, chase a squirrel, or visit the neighbor. Keeping him exercised and stimulated will help a lot, but overall you will need to train him to wait somewhere while you open the door.
This can be a rug, couch, bed, or anything that can be noticeably different on the floor. You just need to teach him to wait at his “place”. Every time you reach to open the door and he gets up, put him back in his place. This isn’t going to work immediately, training is always done in baby steps.
First you’ll have to train him what it means to go to his place, then you can move onto having him stay in that place while you walk around. Always return with a treat or praise when you give a stay command. Never call a dog out of a stay as the reward, because then you’ll have a dog that is spring loaded waiting to be called. Now that the dog knows where his place is, and how to wait there, you move on to jiggling the door handle (baby steps!) If he gets up, just give his place command again, and retry. If he lets you jiggle the handle and stays put, walk to him and give him the reward. Once you’re finally able to open the door with him staying put, you can move onto someone knocking from the other side.
It will take a long time, don’t expect this to work in a day. If all else fails, put him away before you open the door 🤷