Dog Door Afternoon: Our Guide to Dog Door Training
To help with dog door training, we’ve compiled a handy guide for people who are wondering why won’t my dog use the dog door. We’ll go over the best ways to train your pups, whether through luring with tasty treats, pushing them (gently, of course) through the door, and finally, how to get a dog that’s afraid of doggie doors to use them with confidence.
Lure Your Dog Through the Door
- The Setup: Get some tasty treats that your pup enjoys, preferably something small and meaty. Start by removing the flap. Different types of dog doors will have different sized flaps, and a little dog may not be as comfortable pushing their way through. We want the first steps to be as easy as possible.
- Easing Them Into It: With the dog outside, call them through the dog door, until their curiosity brings their head through at first. Praise them, ideally with the same word or phrase every time, as dog door training works best with similarity and repetition. Repeat about 5-10 times, and don’t forget the treats!
- Across The Threshold: Use the treats to lure your dog all the way through the doggie door. When this happens, give them the treat, and give them praise, and then repeat.
- Fade The Lure: Do the same step as above, only hold your hand out without the treat, and then, once your dog is through, reach into the bag to give them a treat. Slowly start moving away, until they come through on their own.
- Replace & Fade Out: Now, put the flap back on the door, and show your dog that they can move it, by pushing the flap open yourself. Continue to praise and give treats with each pass, slowly fading the help until they can use the door on their own.
Give Your Dog a Gentle Push
- The Push: This method works well with two people. Starting with the flap off of the door, one person on the outside of the door will have treats for the dog, while the second person will gently push the dog through. Upon which the first person administers praise and treats.
- The Call: Now, the person on the outside will call the dog through. You can continue to help the dog through the door, but administer praise and treats with each successful use of the door. Repeat as necessary.
- Push Less: Help the dog through the door, less and less, until they are going through when called.
- Bring Back the Flap: Now, do step 3, only this time, with the flap attached to the doggie door. You may have to push the dog door open at first, but as with the push, a slow fading of help is the idea here.
- Doggie Door Only: Now, don’t allow your dog to use the regular door, so they get used to using the doggie door. Putting their food on the other side is a good encouragement.
How to Train a Fearful Dog
If your dog is scared of the dog door, you need to be extra patient with them, as becoming frustrated with them will only add more stress. Break the process up by getting them more comfortable simply being near the door with treats and affection. Use the lure method above, only much slower and with more assistance, and don’t be afraid to take a break for a day if you’re not getting through. Your dog’s worth it.