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Teach Your Dog to Use the Pet Door

Debbie McKnight/Accredited PetSmart Trainer

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Pet doors are one of life’s greatest conveniences. They allow your pet to come and go as they please and can speed up housetraining. While these doors can be handy, puppies can be a little nervous using them the first time.

Here are some tips to help your dog learn how to use his doggy door. Note: Most of these steps are best done with you on the opposite side of the door from your dog.

Pet doors are one of life’s greatest conveniences. They allow your pet to come and go as they please and can speed up housetraining. While these doors can be handy, some dogs are a little nervous using them the first time.

Here are some tips to help your puppy learn how to use his doggy door. Note: Most of these steps are best done with you on the opposite side of the door from your dog.

  1. Start with either the door flap removed or someone holding it open so your dog has a clear line of sight through the door. 
  2. Use your pet’s favorite treats or toys to lure him through the door. Try tossing the toy or treat through the door to make going through the door more fun and exciting. If your dog is still unsure, try rewarding your dog if he pokes his head and neck through the door. Use this method to allow him to gradually work his way through the door and reward him with a treat each time he is successful.
  3. Make sure you practice going both inside and outside. Once your pet can comfortably go through the “open” door, start lowering the flap. As long as he can see the other side, and consequently the treat or toy, it is usually fairly easy to lure him through.
  4. The challenging part comes when the flap is completely lowered because he'll need to push it open with his head. To help your dog, try opening the flap just a little, show your dog the treat and then hold it slightly below the door flap (with your dog on the opposite side) so that he has seen it and can smell it.
  5. Once he’s comfortable with pushing the flap open with his head, close the flap all the way and call him through the door or try tossing a treat or toy through the door. After he learns to comfortably go through you will no longer need to urge him through.
  6. Don’t forget that all this freedom should be earned when the dog has demonstrated good manners inside and out. If your dog is still having accidents inside the home, crate him with the opening facing the doggie door so he can access the yard. As always, make sure your yard is safe for your dog to be left unattended and make sure he’s not practicing bad habits while unsupervised.

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Comments

29 Jan 2010 2:49 pm

Wild Eagle said:

If you have the double flap pet door it's also a good idea to tape one of them open til your pet is comfortable going through just the one flap.

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