Wondering how to train and teach a dog to use a doggie door? Training your dog to use his new doggie door can be a challenge but not when you have a good strategy.
Have you recently bought a doggie door that your canine friend refuses to use? Do you want to train your dog to use the doggie door so he can do his business in the right place? That's why you need to train your dog to use a doggie door.
As you train and teach a dog to use a doggie door, invest in an appropriately sized doggie door and take a slow start so your pup can get comfortable. Once your pooch knows what the door is for, use rewards, and a lot of practice to train your dog to use the doggie door.
Most dogs learn to use the door easily, but some pets may need some more assistance to overcome their fear or anxiety. Regardless of how your pet behaves and responds to your new investment, you must remain patient and consistent to get the results you are looking for.
Remember that your dog doesn’t know what you expect of him unless you teach him the right way. And that's what you will learn here. You will figure out how to train and teach your dog to use the doggie door to go outside and come into the home comfortably.
How Does a Doggie Door Work?
A doggie door is a small opening in your wall, window, or door that conveniently allows your pets to move in and out of the home. A doggie door typically connects your home with the backyard. However, you can also use it as a connective door between your home and the front yard. It allows your pet to go outside the home where it can exercise freedom (and do its business) and come back home to enjoy the homely love, warmth, and comfort.
Most doggie doors work the same way and feature a flap that your dog can push to open the door and walk through the opening. Usually, the flaps are light in weight and do not harm your furry baby. While different types of doggie doors can function similarly, their details can vary, depending on the type of dog door you choose.
Some of the most popular types of doggie doors that you can get for your canine include the following.
- Wall-mounted dog door
- Electronic dog doors
- Sliding-door dog door
- Door-mounted dog door
- Window-mounted dog door
Regardless of the type of doggie door you choose for your pet, it can prove to be a worthy investment as doggie doors bring several benefits that you and your pet can enjoy. Some of the benefits doggie doors may bring include the following.
- Convenience for you as a pet parent, especially if you stay away from home for long hours at work.
- Allows freedom for your pet so he can slide through the door and enjoy some fresh air in the yard when bored or in need of relieving itself. Moreover, since it is an activity that most dogs enjoy, you can expect less scratching on your doors and furniture and chewing out of boredom.
- Access to the outdoor environment provides mental stimulation to your canine as he can interact with various sights, sounds, and smells outdoors, which helps your pet alert and mentally healthy.
How Long Should I Train My Pet to Use A Doggie Door?
The training sessions for teaching your dog to use the doggie door don't have to last for hours. A training session that lasts for up to ten minutes can do the trick if done right. Moreover, by keeping the training sessions short and precise, you can prevent your dog from becoming bored and frustrated.
Lastly, your canine friend will likely remain active and alert if you keep the training short and won’t be distracted by other tasks. Your pet will also remain alert and active.
While it's best to keep your training sessions short, you can incorporate several training sessions a day. But, don't forget to give enough break in between training so your canine can enjoy some rest in between them.
How Do I Train My Dog to Use a Doggie Door?
Step 1: Secure Your Yard
Doggie doors bring several advantages to you and your pet, but they can be dangerous. So before you start training your four-legged friend to use the door to go outside, you need to make sure that your yard is secure. Start by checking the fence. Is it secure? Are there any weak spots?
Once you take a closer look at the fence, you need to evaluate the plants in your yard. Do you have any plants in your yard that are unsafe for pets? Do you have any chemicals that can be potentially dangerous for your pup? Ensure your yard is also free of small rocks and debris that your canine can swallow as they can pose a choking hazard.
Step 2: Begin by Removing the Flap – Try the Call-out Method
Once your yard is safe for your canine, start the training session by removing the flap of your doggie door. Typically, the flap of the doggy door is detachable, but in case your doggy door flap isn't detachable, you can simply tape it into an open position. You will need a friend or family member to help you with this step as the helper can keep your dog company inside the house while you stay outside to call your canine.
Most people try this approach, and the training method used is to call your pet’s name from outside the home to see how he responds. It’s best to have a dog treat in hand as a reward so your dog may respond quickly. Dog treats can do wonders, especially when it comes to training your pup, but you don't have to show the reward to your pet at this point.
As you call your pet’s name and show the reward, you can expect two outcomes.
- Your dog may excitedly run through the door to get the reward
- Your dog may be anxious and fearful and stay indoors
Depending upon your pet's response, you need to be expressive about your reaction. If your dog runs through the door and gets to you, you need to show excitement by saying affirmative words like "great," or "yes" or any other word that you use to praise your canine when it follows your instructions and hands over the treat.
But what if your dog retreats into the house and doesn’t use the door?
In that case, you can ask your friend or family member to push the dog from behind gently. If your canine starts to get comfortable and comes halfway through, you can use positive reinforcement to encourage your canine to complete the task. You can also try showing the reward to your pup for some encouragement. However, remember, do not give out the reward at this point. You should aim to get the dog through the door, so hand over the reward only when it completes the task.
It’s important to repeat this training method a couple of times a day but do not overdo it.
Alternatively – Use the Lure Method or Get Physical
Some dogs need a lot more coaxing and motivation to try new things. That's when you can rely on this method to train your dog to use a doggie door.
But before you try it out, assess your pet’s motivation. It could be anything from your dog’s favorite snack to a new toy. Depending upon what you think will attract your pet the most, decide on the treat, and you can then make a trail of dog treats that can lead your dog from inside the home to outside.
If your dog gets through the door, it’s time for reward and appreciation for your canine. Enthusiastically appreciate your canine and repeat the training a few times a day.
If you have a little puppy that you are trying to train or your dog is less fearful, you can also use the physical method, which requires you to push the dog through the door gently. It's best to have two people together who can accomplish this task together. When trying this method, don't forget to be gentle and praise your puppy as it gets through the door.
Regardless of the training method you use, how well your pup responds to the training depends on your praise and appreciation and, of course, treat it as a reward.
Step 3: Attach the Flap/Close the Flap
If you have a detachable flap, you can attach it on the second day of your training. In case you have used the tape to hold the flap upright, it's time to remove the tape so the flap is closed.
You will again need a helper for this step as things are starting to get tricky for your canine. Let your friend or family member stay inside the house with your dog while you call it from the outside.
As you try it for the first time, your friend may need to gently push the dog to encourage it to move towards you but make sure your friend tries to help out as little as possible. Once your pet can see you, it may likely feel less scared and more open to trying out something new to reach you.
As your pet goes through the door, ask your helper to slowly let the flap touch the back of your pet so he can get used to the feel and sound of the flap right from the beginning. As your pup goes through the door, again and again, ask your helper to help a little less each time until your canine is completely familiar with the touch of the flap and can go through the door on its own.
Step 4: Add Distance
Now your canine knows what to do and how to go about it, it's time to add distance to make the training a little more rigorous.
You and your helper friend should add distance for your pet from the door but make sure to continue calling it from the other side of the door or lure it with a treat. Every time your pet gets through the door, don't forget to praise your canine and reward him with his favorite treat.
Step 5: Continue to Practice
Continue to practice by calling your canine’s name or luring it until your pet is comfortable enough to use the doggie door independently.
Step 6: Redirect Your Pet Towards Doggie Door
If you want your dog to solely use the doggie door to go outside, redirect your pet every time he tries to use the regular door. Again, you can use rewards and praise to encourage your dog to use a doggie dog. An alternative approach would be to place your dog's food on the other side of the flap, so he feels more motivated to get through the doggie door. You can also place your dog's potty to teach where he should go when he needs to relieve itself.
As you learn the six steps to train and teach your dog to use the doggie door, don't forget that the most critical aspect of this training is patience. When training your dog to use a doggie door, remain calm and patient with your dog.
Your pet may be an enthusiastic learner and start using the doggie door right away, but a few canines are anxious and need plenty of practice before they learn and get used to the doggie door. So you have to be patient with your dog and never push him gently roughly or angrily through the door.
Perhaps the best thing that can do wonders with this training is your enthusiastic praise and your pet’s favorite reward every time he makes an effort. After all, when you show your love for your pet through a cheerful tone of voice, your pup will know he has done the job right.
How Do You Train an Older Dog to Use a Doggie Door?
Training an adult dog to use a doggie dog can be slightly trickier than training a younger pup, but the training steps remain essentially the same with a few modifications. Here are some tips that will help you train an older dog to use a doggie door more effectively. By using these tips along with the steps mentioned above, you can train an older dog to use a doggie door.
Tip 1: Seek Assistance
Teaching an older dog to use a doggie door can be slightly more challenging, so you need to find someone who can help you with this task. It's best to take help from people who live with you at home, so your pet is also familiar and comfortable with them.
Tip 2: Take a Slow Start
Older dogs are set in their manners and habits, and teaching them something new can be tough. But don't worry. Even if you have an older dog, you can still teach him to use the doggie door by taking a slow start.
Regardless of which method you use to train your dog, always be gentle, so you don't scare your canine. Moreover, gradually familiarize your four-legged friend with the feel and sound of the flap and rely on positive reinforcement and rewards.
Tip 3: Give Your Dog Some Time to Get Used to the Door
Once your older dog becomes familiar with the doggie door and tries it out a few times, that doesn't mean your canine is fully trained to use the door. You will still need to give your dog some time to get used to the door. You can try sitting by the doggie door and call your canine to join you or offer a treat every time your dog uses the door.
Tip 4: Detach the Flap
If your four-legged friend is still scared about what lies ahead of the door, despite repeated attempts, you can detach the flap to make your canine feel less anxious about using the doggie door. If your doggie door doesn't have a detachable flap, you can tape it or keep it open, using one hand, as you use the other hand to push your canine outside gently.
Tip 5: Try the Other Way Around
Most pet parents start the training by sitting outside the home and calling their pet from the inside. While the approach generally works for most pets, you can try the other way around if your older dog is reluctant to use the doggie dog. Instead of sitting outside, you can be inside the home while your pet can be in the yard with a trusted companion.
You can then call your dog by his name or use treats to lure your pet inside. The approach is best used if your dog has spent some time outdoors and craves the warmth and comfort of home.
Tip 6: It’s All About Practice
When training and teaching an older dog to use a doggie door, know that it's all about practice. Continue to practice with your dog until your canine is willing and able to use the doggie door on his own. Once your older dog comfortably goes in and out of the door, you can sit back and relax as you have done your job right.
Why is My Dog Not Using the Doggie Door?
You may have practiced enough with your dog, but somehow your canine is not using the doggie door. There can be several reasons why your dog may not use the doggie door. Some of these reasons include the following.
If you are a new pet parent, it's likely to feel overwhelmed with training a dog. You might feel that you are doing a great job, but if you are not communicating the right message across to your canine, you need to rethink your training strategy to train your canine the right way. Some of the tips that can help you improve your training strategy include:
- Keeping the training sessions short (not more than 10 minutes)
- Rely on a lot of positive reinforcement and rewards to encourage your canine
- Treat your dog gently at all times
- Resist the urge to lose patience and be harsh or angry with your canine
A Small Doggie Door
Another reason why your dog may not be using the doggie door is the incorrect size of the door. If you miscalculate the door size for your pet, it might be difficult for your canine to pass through the door comfortably. Hence, it is critical to measure your pet's height accurately and how wide an opening your pet can fit in, then invest in a door appropriate for your pet so your canine can comfortably move in and out of the home.
Some of the tips that will help you find the correct sizing for your pet door include the following.
- Measure your pet’s height
- Make sure that the top of the flap should be at least one inch taller than your dog’s back
- The height of the step-over shouldn’t be more than 1/3rd of the pet’s height
- To determine the width of the doggie door, don’t measure the pet directly. Instead, measure how wide of an opening your pet can fit in
If you currently have a puppy, your canine is likely to grow taller and wider and will soon outgrow your existing doggie door. So it’s best to invest in a slightly larger doggie door so your dog can continue to use it for some time before there is a need to reinvest in a doggie door.
If Your Canine Knows How To Go Through The Doggie Door, But Doesn't Want To Try This Out!
If your pup or older dog is trained to use the doggie door, he will likely exercise his freedom to go in and out. But in some cases, your canine might not want to go outside on his own and doesn’t use the doggie door even if he knows how. At times, the need to go outside for potty is not motivating enough for the canine to leave the house. In that case, you will need to find a way to make going out through the doggie dog door appealing to your dog.
Putting the food or water bowl outside the doggie dog works as a good fix for some dogs. But for others, you may have to be more creative and try out different things until you find out what motivates your dog. Playing games, such as hide and seek, can be an incentive for a few dogs.
For others, you can try some delicious snacks that have a strong scent and show them to your dog before you place it outside the doggie door. Try to get your pup worked up and excited to get the treats, and you will likely see positive results. You can also turn it into a game and encourage your canine to play actively with you so he can get used to moving in and outside the home using the doggie door.
Training and teaching your dog to use a doggie door can be a challenging experience, but it is definitely a wonderful bonding opportunity for you and your canine. If you rely on the right strategy and use appropriate tips to make the training process easy for both of you, this training can strengthen your relationship with your canine and bring lots of joy into the home. With patience, praise and practice, your canine friend will find joy and convenience with his newfound independence, and you will get to enjoy the convenience of a cleaner home and happier ball of fur.
About THE AUTHOR
I have had dogs my whole life and have always trained my own dogs with patience and positive reinforcement. My dogs are my life. My family always had dogs growing up. I've trained dogs for clients while working at a local dog daycare. I hope that my research and experiences are helpful to you as I share them here.Read More About Russell Wright