Training your dog to use its new doggy door can be very fast, but you will need a good strategy. If you give a young puppy a fright, they will 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.
Doggy Door Set Up
You’ll need a bit of string and a large elastic band. First wrap the elastic around the doggy door flap. Now tie the string to the elastic band and open up the doggy door flap so that it is wide open. You can usually secure the string to the door handle. Now put a rolled up old towel over the lower opening to soften all hard plastic edges. At this stage, it is important that the drop from the doggy door opening to the ground is only small. If needed, roll up a second towel and use it as a step under the first towel (as shown on 2nd photograph below). Your dog will be much more willing to walk through opening without the door flap or any sharp edges.
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 doggy 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 doggy door at the current level.
Picture 3: Help your puppy practice coming out through the doggy 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 doggy door from the side, where it needs to lift the flap rather than push it (because the flap is lifted up 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 doggy door…
How will you train your dog next?
If you would like some great tips on toilet training, go straight to our blog for new puppy parents: the-first-5-things-that-you-should-know