If your dog doesn’t get a good introduction to its new doggy door, then it can very easily get a fright and refuse to use the door in the future. Here is how to get it right…
Before you start: Chances are, you are eager to teach your dog how to get out of the house to do it’s business. Therefore teach your puppy how to get out of the doggy door first. You will find that your dog is self-motivated enough to figure out, how to get back in. Timid dogs may need a little extra help.
First tie up the door-flap so that it is wide open. The easiest way is to connect a handful of brown elastics, but a bit of string will do the job too. Tie the elastics together to form a long elastic ‘rope’. Wrap one end of the ‘elastic rope’ around the door handle, wrap the other end around the door flap. Now put a rolled up old towel over the lower opening, so that all hard plastic edges are softened. If needed, roll up a second towel and use it as a step under the first towel, so that the drop from the door opening to the ground is smaller.
Picture 1: Use an extra good treat (and a little patience) to lure your dog through the door opening.
Picture 2: Now push the elastic band on the door-flap up higher towards the hinges; this will automatically lower the flap. If your dog is quite intimidated by the flap, break this process down to tiny steps, only lowering the flap 2″ at a time. Never move forward to the next step, unless your dog is already completely confident going through the door at the current level.
Picture 3: Help your puppy practice coming out through the door, now with the flap so low that it brushes against your dog’s back, but it doesn’t yet require pushing with the nose:
Picture 4: Of course, it is now awkward for your puppy to come through the door from the side, where the flap will need to be lifted, not pushed (because of being lifted up and out to one side). This is actually an important part of the process, because it forces your dog to start maneuvering the flap with its nose. It is by trying to squeeze under the flap, that your dog will gain the confidence to push the flap when it is eventually completely closed.
Eh voila! Now you just need to set up some situations, where your puppy reeeaally want to come through that door…