View Full Version : Serious problem - Bolting out the door

8th July 2009, 05:34 PM
Hello Everyone

I have a female 16 month old. She was been to obedience classes and easily obeys basic commands. When I take her out for a walk, I ask her to sit at the door until I am outside and then I invite her out ..she follows through perfectly. However, if I were to open the door for whatever other reason, Maisy will cunningly take any opportunity to bolt out and she will NOT come back until she has had her fun. Luckily, we live on a long quiet cul-de-sac that has 2 acre lots so there are very few cars. Next year, we plan to be in a busier neighborhood and if I can't control Maisy's bolting problem she will surely end up dead.

I am now in the habit of always looking over my shoulder to see if Maisy is around before I open the door. If she is, I ask her to sit and stay and she does. My husband and children on the otherhand have not made this a habit and the dog continually gets out. She has a blast as there are large lawns and marshy waters to run through as well as ducks and frogs and birds to chase. My husband (not particularly a pet person) is very annoyed that I have to, yet again, bathe the dog as she smells like a swamp when she decides to come home. This is an exhausing problem.

My neighbor has a large dog that used to leave her property until she started using a wireless training device. Her dog now happily stays on her own yard and is now not at risk of losing her life or causing a car accident that could seriously harm a person.

I'm starting to feel like I should try this option and would welcome any opinions.

Thanks for listening.

8th July 2009, 06:13 PM
Bolting is a very serious (and frustrating!) problem and it is going to have to be a joint family effort to resolve or you will end up with a dead or stolen dog. Just training will not work however; it is (I think) primarily a management problem where the people need to come up with the solutions, as the dog won't ever be entirely safe or secure without 100% obedience and most dogs won't have this. In my case, I simply keep the hall door closed so the dogs cannot get out.

She needs to know she is to always sit, every time a door opens, which means members of the family *cannot* forget and open the door -- they all need to be part of that training. Also she cannot ONLY learn that sit and wait means 'then go out' (which is what she is doing with you most of the time it sounds like -- not making a connection to always sit and wait, if a door opens, but not then go out) as she probably realises she doesn't get to go out when others open the door so just goes out on her own. You also need to work on excellent recall -- again, a dedicated daily training process that ALL need to do so she doesn't only respond to one of you. If the kids are small, I'd put a latch at the top of the door so that they can't go out that particular door at all without an adult managing it for them (kids are generally the weakest link and kids leaving doors open, probably the main reason dogs escape from houses. That is why I won't place deaf dogs in homes with children). If there are hall doors, close them. Get a screen door inside the front door.

Meanwhile training must happen as well -- not for the dog, for *family members* :) . If they are leaving the house, you need a place where the dog goes while people exit. Again -- a kitchen, or closed hall doors. Some sort of routine that secures the dog safely each and every time BEFORE anyone goes out, no exceptions.

A dog only learns what it is trained to do -- so maybe getting a good trainer in to help resolve this problem would also be a good idea as this kind of problem needs targetted training mixed with management. Trainers will definitely have some good ideas for managing this. :)

Please whatever you do, do NOT use a 'wireless device' on this breed of all breeds (which is an electric SHOCK collar -- please, please do not use this cruel form and often useless form of containment!). Using one could seal her fate -- as if she bolts anyway as regularly happens with these stupid devices, you will easily lose her forever -- as she will not risk another shock to come back home! These collars have also malfunctioned and burned holes in dog's necks. On cavaliers in particular, with the high rate of syringomyelia, and syrinxes forming first in the neck area, it is truly inordinately cruel to apply electric shock control. :( And seriously, do test one on your own neck -- or your kids' necks -- at highest setting to equate what a cavalier will feel -- if you remain unsure about using this horrible device).

If you feel you absolutely cannot manage a bolting dog then I'd seriously consider rehoming the dog to a very secure setting; though difficult, to be honest, this may need to be a serious consideration if you have family members who are so-so about dog ownership and unlikely to want to try to help train and manage a bolting dog -- it isn't fair to someone who doesn't really like dogs to have to deal with one and also isn't safe for the dog to have that risk of getting lost or killed everpresent.

But really, there are several things to try as noted above, and hopefully a training and management approach that everyone joins in supporting (and I'd make it clear this is a matter of life and safety for Maisie and emphasise that owning a dog means *everyone* has a job to take on to make sure she is always safe) will work well for you, and is your best and most responsible approach. I think you need to have a whole-family discussion though and assess how committed everyone is, then design a management programme that will work and also get the help of a trainer.

8th July 2009, 07:49 PM
This was one of my big concerns when we first got our Leo. We trained and trained and trained and it wasnt always easy:sl*p:
However we concentrated on the "Stay" command, with lots of rewards when he got it right and eventually he did:w**h**:

Now when I open the door I tell him stay and he doesnt move. The other day a cat walked right past the door and he started to move...all I did was click my fingers and he sat down again.
I was so chuffed but the training has to continue even now he seems to have "got it" I cant become complacent.

Keep at it and like Karlin said you need to get everyone on board.

Good Luck


8th July 2009, 07:58 PM
I think this is the most stressful part about having a dog, I am totally paranoid about the front door and the back gate. If someone knocks on the door Dylan walks into the lounge behind the baby gate. We didn't know we were training him to do it, we just put him there and after a while he surprised us walking there by himself.

It's my worst nightmare and I have even written in permanent pen on the door not to let Dylan out. You'd be amazed how many of my kids friends leave the door open to go to their cars, we keep a really close eye on this. I think that's all you can do, make sure no one goes out and leaves the door. Also, have good treats by the front door. I think Cathy Moon also does that.

8th July 2009, 08:19 PM
I have also found gates and the front door very stressful, when Jasper was a puppy he bolted out the front door twice and once when he was older when workmen were here, we have two side gates in the alleyway at the side of our property and the kids when younger were also told to make sure gates were always closed and when their friends come to the door I always keep an eye on the front door or at least know where Jasper is, I am pretty paranoid he always goes running to the door when people call.

heather r
8th July 2009, 08:34 PM
Agree that you will have to get whole family involved in solution.

Our Abigail used to try and get out either of our doors. Now at almost a year, when we step in front of her at a door she stays back and doesn't try to bolt.
We make her stay back quite a distance.Before we had to put her in her crate.

Heather R

28th July 2009, 01:16 AM
This might be a solution to getting everyone to think about Maisy b/4 they exit


28th July 2009, 10:40 AM
Hey that's a neat device!

28th July 2009, 12:18 PM
If someone knocks on the door Dylan walks into the lounge behind the baby gate.

Mine all go to the kitchen and stand back so that I can close the baby gate, then they jostle for the best position to see who's arriving :D Then all hell breaks loose!!

28th July 2009, 12:47 PM
Yeah mine all run and start barking at the doorway into the front hall as they know they are always asked to get out of the hall... I close the hall door, open the front door, let the person in, and all the dogs are then jostling at the hall door to see who is coming through... :lol:

28th July 2009, 02:15 PM
This might be a solution to getting everyone to think about Maisy b/4 they exit

Unfortunately the website is down but I'm very curious about this so I'll come back and check it later to see if it is operational again.

Maisy has gotten out 2 more times since I started this thread ..this time it was because of the babysitter. This is very frustrating. Yes, everyone in the family has to get on board with this but it's hard to get the people outside of the family on board.

28th July 2009, 03:51 PM
Maybe Maisie needs to be somewhere safe during times when the sitter is there -- the same safe room you would keep her in when the family is all out of the house.

But you will need to get the whole family involved with training and a full plan of management. The goal is to have her trained not to bolt out doors, full stop, but only a concerted family effort will achieve that and it isn't easy and may never be possible with smaller children or indifferent family members. The alternative, if you don't want a dead or stolen dog, is a management approach that is consistent and safe for her.

If both of these are impossible, as hard as it is, I would seriously consider rehoming her and waiting til kids are older and can be more careful about doors to make a dog part of the family. This can be one of the enormous difficulties of owning a dog while children are still too young to know how to be careful with opening and closing doors. In such a situation, for responsible ownership, the house and dog management needs to be altered to keep the dog safe.

28th July 2009, 04:00 PM
If both of these are impossible, as hard as it is, I would seriously consider rehoming her and waiting til kids are older and can be more careful about doors to make a dog part of the family

This is what happened to a friend of my family ... .she had two Cavaliers and they were constantly escaping so she decided to rehome. As soon as she found a good new home, they both escaped. One came back and was rehomed, and the other was found days later, dead on the road. :( (sad as that is ... story does have a happy ending though ... she ended up marrying the guy she rehomed him with so now has a new husband and her dog back)

28th July 2009, 04:10 PM
We live in the countryside too so the garden is not fenced off. We fenced off the patio area at the back which means the side door and the back door open onto this so I can let them out and they are safe. If I opened the front door they would run out and it is very hard to try and catch two of them. Our hall/living/dining is open plan so if the front door is open they can get out very easily. They understand the recall however the fun is too much for them running around the garden. We never use the front door, all our visitors come in the back. We do have a half door as the front door which is grat when the postman etc calls. I open the top bit and the dogs are safe but they can see who is calling and jump up and have a look ha ha.

28th July 2009, 04:12 PM
Yeah that is the importance of homechecks and going through exactly what will be required for safely keeping any dog especially ones with any kind of potential problem. It can be difficult for the dog owner to find a family where you can walk through all these issues, at their home -- it's why most rescues will do personal homechecks even just on the basics but particularly for any flagged issue -- much easier for some to accept a homecheck from a rescue rather than a dog owner.

How funny though that she married the new guy she rehomed the dog to in the end!

Emma that sounds like a very good solution for your home. :)

28th July 2009, 06:19 PM
I did a home check the other day for a family that was looking to adopt one of our rescues. They have teenagers in the house. I consider it my responsibility to inform people who have never had a Cavalier before that they must NEVER be let out the front door without a leash. NEVER. They are not like other dogs in this respect. They require absolutely critical management.

My dad lives on a large piece of property and we went over to swim the other day. They live on a dead end street. Winston has only been over there a handful of times since we've had him. They were off leash. Winn ran down the street b/c someone was backing their car out of the drive. The man saw Winn chasing after the car, stopped the car, and Winn jumped in the car with him to go for a ride! I could have easily had a stolen dog...

I find it amazing that I've had dogs all my life and have never had one (until my Cavaliers) that would run out the door, or out of my yard, or not listened when I called them back. Cavaliers are very different in that respect. That is the only thing I don't like about the breed, honestly.

28th July 2009, 07:05 PM
If I wanted to write a book it would easily be about the adventures of Benji, a hard headed Yorkie, who bolted out the door regularly. He didn't simply run away-rather he went to see people. He would scratch on anyone's door and they would let him in for a visit (of course we would be driving around trying to find him and he would be out of sight), he stopped Little League games, visited the school and loved to hobnob with people working in their gardens. I don't think we ever spent less than an hour in hunting him. He was fast and I think a bit of a shapeshifter as he slithered by someone at the door. The cry would go out, when the door was going to be opened, "Where's Benji" and that little #*&% would come out of nowhere, get out and the chase would be on. He lived to be 15 and we never were comfortable with him having any proximity to the doors.

28th July 2009, 11:56 PM
I have that barrier that Frecklesmom posted and I LOVE it! I actually have it installed on the three doors that lead outside (including the door to the garage). Sure, it's a bit of a pain, but it's great peace of mind. My kids are just 7 and 3, so I thought better to be safe than expect perfection from little ones (and sitters, house cleaners, etc.).

I'm still working on training Holly to "go to her spot" when the door bell rings, and she's getting there. I would highly encourage you to check these barriers out -- and keep working on the training:) I think it will take a while before Holly's 100% there (and she's 16 montsh old), so don't lose patience -- this is the hardest thing I've trained her to accomplish.