Door dashing can be a dangerous habit for you and your cat. However, it can be easily corrected with patience and proper training. Before entering your house in any situation, be sure to take time to set down any bags and peek inside to ensure your cat is not waiting by the door and revving his engine.
Make sure your cat is properly identified and/or microchipped. Doing so will better the chances of him being returned to you in case he slips out the door.
Spay or neuter your cat. Cats that are in heat tend to dash out the door whenever they smell a potential mate. For best results in nixing this behavior, make sure to spay or neuter your cat as soon as possible.
Pick out a specific “greeting spot” in your home that is far away from the door. All one-on-one time with your cat should take place in that area, this includes petting, playtime, grooming, treats, etc. All hellos and goodbyes should be done in this area as well. If your cat is waiting for you at the door when you get home, calmly lead him over to the greeting area before saying hello. This will help teach your cat to wait by this area rather than by the door when you are leaving or returning home.
Create a distraction for your cat before leaving the house by giving him a yummy irresistible treat or a couple of his favorite toys to play with. If your cat still insists on following you to the door, toss one of his favorite toys across the room to distract his attention before opening the door.
If nothing seems to be working, resort to the “squirt and shut” method. First, fill a spray bottle with water and keep it near the door. Before entering the house, open the door a crack to check if your cat is waiting to dash. If he is, give a quick spray in his direction, making sure to avoid his face, and shut the door. Shutting the door after spraying rather than entering the house will cause your cat to associate bad things with the door and not you. If you open the door again and your cat is not waiting to dart, you may enter the house, go to your greeting area, and give your cat all the pets and affection his heart desires.
In this method, consistency is key. Make sure that everyone entering the house uses this method. If one person falters, your cat won’t learn his lesson and will retreat back to his old habits.
If you would like information from an Anti-Cruelty Society Behavior Specialist regarding this behavior topic, please call 312-645-8253 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.