You need to control, or manage, the environment so mistakes don’t happen, or so when they do happen you can correct them. For example:
- Keeping doors and gates closed
- Having the dog on leash
- Using a baby gate or ex-pen as an extra boundary at the front door
Management alone is not enough because at some point something will happen. People will leave doors open, leashes will slip out of hands, collars do break. So training needs to be in place in order to offer your dog safety.
Your dog needs obedience training. She doesn’t need to learn a million tricks, she just needs to learn a handful of commands really well. The key phrase being really well. Below is my list of recommended commands for all dogs.
- Wait: Teach your dog the “Wait” command and practice at every door, every time…religiously…to the point of being obsessive about it. This will create an invisible boundary and stop the your pup from dashing to the door. Do the same thing at the street, creating a boundary there as well. Have your dog on a leash. Teach the “Wait” command using body language and stepping into her space as well as applying physical pressure such as nudging with your leg. If she gets past you simply use the leash to bring her back and try again. DO NOT use a “Sit” command. This is boundary training, not a Sit-Stay exercise.
- Come: A reliable recall, or “Come” command, is critical. If your dog breaches the door boundary you need to be able to call her back immediately. Teach this by using a 50’ long line. Start with low level distractions and use plenty of praise and rewards. If she gets distracted use a light leash pop to bring her attention back to you. Once that is going well, move on to other locations with increasing levels of distractions. Practice until she is consistently coming with no help from the leash.
- Heel: “Heel” means to walk by your side with no pulling, no sniffing, no barking, no lunging, and no car chasing. This can be introduced with treats but ultimately needs to be taught with leash corrections for real world reliability. Introduce the concept with few distractions, then begin having her “Heel” around moving cars. In most cases, this command can be taught in one training session. Practice every day until she is totally desensitized and shows no interest in chasing cars.
- Leave It: The “Leave It” command means “Leave that alone.” This is the most direct command for teaching her that chasing cars is bad, even when she is not under any other command and, ultimately, even if you are not there at all. You can introduce this command with treat-based games but for any real sense of safety you will need to add corrections to back up your “Leave It” command.