How to Teach Your Dog to Bolt from a Standing Start

Two Parts:Learning the Prerequisite SkillsTeaching Your Dog to Bolt

If your dog has easily learned basic commands like sit, stay, and heel, you might be eager to move on to more advanced commands. "Bolt from a standing start" is a fancy way of saying that a dog can take off in a full-out run from a standing still position, such as dogs do in races when the pistol is fired to start the race. If you want to begin training your dog for racing or want to teach him to bolt from a standing start for another reason, the process is fairly straightforward. First, be sure that your dog has all the skills he needs to learn this new trick. Then, teach him the trick using several tried-and-true techniques.

Part 1
Learning the Prerequisite Skills

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    Make sure your dog is capable of this trick. Bolting from a standing start requires that your dog is healthy and active so that he can run at a fast pace. Old or sick dogs may not be able to master this trick.
    • It also helps if your dog has an energetic personality. Dogs who love to play chase or catch are often good candidates for this trick.
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    Be sure your dog knows and follows "stay." This basic command is important for teaching a dog to remain in the standing start until you give the order to bolt.
    • If you have not yet taught your dog to "stay," read this helpful wikiHow article for advice on this and other basic commands including sit, lay down, recall, and heel.
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    Be sure your dog is well behaved. Aggressive or overly hyper dogs can become too enthusiastic during a bolting exercise and end up jumping up on someone or even attacking.
    • If your dog has behavioral problems, you might consider enrolling him in an obedience course. If he is aggressive in any way, including growling, lunging, or biting at you, other people, or other dogs, be sure to address that problem before worrying about any skills or tricks. Nothing is as important as teaching your dog to be safe.[1]
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    Teach your dog to respond well to a lure. A lure is any toy, treat, or person that your dog loves so much he can't resist it. It's likely that your dog already has his list of favorite things, so you may not have to introduce anything special or new.
    • Teach your dog to sit and stay using the lure as "bait" to tempt him. This will help him become accustomed to receiving the lure at the end of a successful trick.[2]

Part 2
Teaching Your Dog to Bolt

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    Get ready for a training session. To begin, you will need your dog, a collar, a lure, and a partner who can help you.
    • Practice this trick on a sunny day in a well-enclosed space like a backyard. You don't want to practice it at the park or other public place where your dog is likely to be distracted or where he could run off.
    • Make sure your dog is restless and ready for a run. Bolting from a standing start requires a lot of energy and momentum.
    • Get the dog ready by having your partner show him a treat or lure toy. Have the partner give the dog a treat, if you're using food, to get him wanting more.
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    Place your dog in position. Now that your dog has a collar, hold it and walk him into position at the "starting line."
    • Tell the dog to "stay" in place at the starting line. Keep a hold on that collar.
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    Have your friend hold up a lure and walk backwards away from you. As your friend walks, have her say the dog's name to keep his attention. Keep the dog by the collar until your friend has backed up quite a distance, at least thirty feet.
    • Once your friend is in place, she should continue keeping the dog's attention on the lure while you hold the dog's collar and say, "Ready... Set... GO!" Be sure to build up anticipation in your voice and finish by yelling "Go!" as you release the collar and lightly tap the dog's rump. Do NOT hit or push the dog; only lightly pat him to signal him to run.
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    Watch your dog go. The dog should bolt suddenly to your friend, where she should give him the lure as a reward.
    • Reward your dog with treats, praise and pats. Rest for a bit before your next try, and make sure water is on hand for everyone.
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    Phase out the collar. While you might have to hold an eager dog in the "stay" position using his collar at first, eventually you need to train the dog to stay without it. If your dog will stay in place, you can play the role your partner previously filled.
    • Take your dog to the starting line and say "stay." Once the dog is in position, you yourself can back up into the "finish line" position. Say "Ready… set… GO!" in the same tone of voice you used before, holding your own hand over head with a treat as a lure.
    • Keep trying until the dog catches on. Remember to reward all good effort and successes with a treat and plenty of praise, since dogs respond best to positive reinforcement.[3]
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    Phase out the lure. Once you have practiced this trick several times on different days using a lure for bait, do what dog trainers call "fading a lure" or eliminating the dog's need to have a reward for performing a requested trick.[4]
    • Your partner can use a lure to get the dog to bolt, then repeat the maneuver but without using a lure. Have your partner hold her hand in a fist over her head as if she had a lure. When the dog bolts to her, she will show her empty hand and pet the dog and praise him for bolting. Have her take the dog and get a treat anyway, so the dog won't feel cheated.[5]
    • Alternate using a lure with not using one, eventually going several times without using one before offering one again. Eventually, a fist will become the hand signal you use to lure your dog to bolt.


  • It is easiest to train a dog while he is young, so try to get started as soon as possible. However, it is possible to "teach an old dog new tricks," but definitely takes more patience.


  • Never run a dog that you won't be able to control or who may jump at you or your friend because he is overexcited.

Things You'll Need

  • A dog
  • 2 people (or you can try with one)
  • A collar
  • Treats
  • Water
  • Space to practice the trick (a backyard, for instance)

Article Info

Categories: Dog Obedience