Training Your Dog to Use a Dog Door – Housetraining Basics

illustration of a dog coming out of a dog door

Training Your Dog to Use a Dog Door – Housetraining Basics

Training Your Dog to Use a Dog Door

Having a dog door makes housebreaking easy. Some dogs just naturally take to using the dog door, but others are clueless or even afraid of the dog door. If your dog needs help learning to use the dog door, there are two methods you can use to teach them to go in and out easily.

Method 1 – Calling Your Dog
Good if your dog loves interacting with people

Before starting your dog door training, assess whether your puppy would be more motivated to come in through the dog door or go out through it. If your dog loves being inside the house, you should start Training Your Dog to Use a Dog Door outside. If he’s the kind of guy who’s always excited to get a chance to get outside, start with him inside the house. You can do this exercise on your own or you can do it with one person on each side of the dog door, one calls your dog in, then the other calls him out.

With your puppy on one side of the dog door and you on the other, lift the flap of the dog door all the way up and call him, using an excited voice and lots of animation. Reward any attempt to come toward or through the door with lots of verbal encouragement. When he makes it the whole way through, pet him, praise him and play with him… make a huge fuss over him! Then, leaving him where he is, go to the other side of the door, lift the flap and repeat the same exercise. Do a few repetitions going each way then take a break. Should do short sessions to avoid burning him out.

Once he’s going through with the flap halfway up, continue doing short sessions with him, gradually lifting the flap up less and less, until you’re to the point where he’s pushing through the door on his own.

Once he knows that he can come through the door, try to get him to do it without you calling him. The best way to do this is to leave him on one side of the door and do something fun on the other side of the door… play with the kids or with your other dog or run around the yard hooting and hollering like you’re having a great time. If your dog comes out to join you, you’ll know he’s getting the idea. Repeat this for a few sessions, and you’ll soon find that your dog’s using his dog door on his own.

Method 2 – Luring Your Dog with Treats
Good if your dog’s the type who will do anything for a snack

For this training, you should have some extra yummy treats with a strong scent… something like hot dogs, jerky treats or freeze-dried liver. Let your puppy see you get the treats out and try to get him excited about the treats by holding them tightly in your hand and letting him sniff and lick the treats without actually giving him one.

Before starting your training, assess whether your dog would be more motivated to come in through the dog door or go out through it. If your puppy loves being inside the house, you should start this training with him outside. If he’s the kind of guy who’s always excited to get a chance to get outside, start with him inside the house. If you’re not sure which he prefers, he can start this exercise either inside or outside.

With your dog on one side of the dog door and you on the other, lift the flap of the dog door all the way up and call him, using an excited voice and lots of animation. Wave the treats so he can see them on the other side of the dog door. Reward any attempt to come toward or through the door with lots of verbal encouragement, but don’t let him have the treat until he makes it the whole way through. When he comes all the way through, pet him, praise him and and let him have some treats! Then, leaving him where he is, go to the other side of the door, lift the flap and repeat the same exercise. Do a few repetitions going each way then take a break. This training can be stressful and exciting for your puppy, so you should do short sessions to avoid burning him out.

After your dog has had a break, repeat the exercise. If he’s coming through with no hesitation, repeat the exercise holding the flap up only halfway. Your dog may be troubled by feeling the flap touching him, so you’ll need to use lots of verbal encouragement to convince him that’s no big deal. Continue to go crazy with the praise and play after he comes through.

Once he’s going through with the flap halfway up, continue doing short sessions with him, gradually lifting the flap up less and less, until you’re to the point where he’s pushing through the door on his own.

Once he knows that he can come through the door, try to get him to do it without you calling him and offering him treats. You can do this by leaving him on one side of the door and scattering some treats on the ground on the other side of the door or you can do something fun on the other side of the door… play with the kids or with your other dog or run around the yard hooting and hollering like you’re having a great time. If your puppy comes out on his own, you’ll know he’s getting the idea. Repeat this for a few sessions, and you’ll soon find that your dog’s using his dog door on his own.

Moving On

Once your dog is going through the doggy door on his own, move on to Using a Doggie Door to Housebreak Your Dog or Puppy for your housebreaking training.

 

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