How To Train A Dog To Use A Dog Door

Installing a dog door is convenient for you in a lot of ways, as it allows your dog to let themselves in and out of your home without you having to tend to them. 

However, you can’t install a dog door and expect your dog to be able to use it on their own. If you are to install one, it takes time and patience to train your dog to use a dog door.

In this article, I will provide you with some key methods on how to train your dog to use a dog door as well as some useful tips.

So, let’s get into it.

How To Train A Dog To Use A Dog Door

How To Train Your Dog To Use A Dog Door

Method One 

Step one – Encourage your dog to come through the dog door with a gentle push

Begin this method with the flap removed from the door. For the best results, you will require two people to carry out this method. Have one person on the inside of the door, while the other person is on the outside of the door. 

Encourage your dog through the door by holding treats through the door and with a gentle push. Once your dog is is through the door, be sure to praise him with verbal  

Step two – Call your dog through the dog door

Next, you will need to ask the person on the other side of the door to call your dog through to the other side of the dog door. Be sure to give them plenty of encouragement and remain patient with them. 

If they’re still struggling, gently push them through the door again.

Each time your dog successfully walks through the door, make sure you give them a treat and lots of praise so that they know they can do it. You will need to repeat this process around 5 to 10 times.

Step three – Reduce the help you give to your dog

Once you’ve got your dog to come through the door a significant amount of times with you and your partner’s help, it’s time to reduce the amount of help that you give them.

Reduce the amount you help them until your dog is using the door by themselves when they are called by your partner on the other side.

Step four – Put the flap back on

At this stage, it’s time to put the flap back on the dog door. To begin with, you might find that you need to push the flap open before your dog will go through, but it’s important that they learn to do this themselves.

Reduce the help until you no longer need to push the flap open for them and they are able to walk through the door on their own. Once they’ve done this, you need to repeat the process for another 5 to 10 times.

Step five – Increase the distance

Once your dog is able to use the door on their own, it’s time to increase the distance from the door each time that you repeat the process.

Call your dog through the door, and make sure that you provide them with plenty of praise and a treat each time they successfully make it through the door. Repeat this process until they gain confidence in themselves.

Step six – Use the dog door exclusively

Now your dog has learned how to use a dog door, it’s time to stop allowing them to use other methods. By making sure that they exclusively use the dog door, you will encourage them to keep using it when they need the toilet, even if you’re not around.

Method Two 

This second method concentrates on training your dog to stop being fearful of their dog door.

Step one – Encourage your dog and have patience

If your dog is scared of their dog door, then training them could take a little longer. This is normal, and will require you to have patience. If you become frustrated with your dog, you will only exacerbate the hesitation and fear that they already feel.

Step two – Take it one step at a time

To begin, you will want to make sure that the flap of the doggy door has been removed. Every time your dog gets closer to the door, encourage them with praise and a treat.

Keep repeating this process until they voluntarily get close to the door and are waiting for their treat.

Step three – Move to the opposite side of the door

Once your dog starts to wait for their treat, you will need to move to the other side of the door and call them.

Praise them with a phrase that you can repeat, such as ‘Yes, well done!’ when they get close and pass a treat to them through the door. Repeat this process for around 10 to 15 times.

Step four – Encourage your dog to stick their head through the door

Next, you will want to hold a treat a few inches through the dog door, encouraging them to stick their head through the door to get it.

Once they have, praise them with ‘Yes, well done!’ and give them the treat. Repeat this process, and extend the distance until your dog actually steps through the door.

Step five – Encourage your dog to step through the door for a treat

When your dog has stepped through the door, it’s time to wait until they have stepped the whole way through before you reward them. Repeat this process until they are confidently stepping through the door on their own.

Step six – Put the flap back on the doggy door

At this stage, you will need to put the flap back on the dog door.

This might pose a challenge, but begin by holding the flap up for your dog and encourage them to walk through as they have before this step. Reduce the help that you give your dog until you are no longer holding the flap open for them.

Step seven – Begin to increase the distance

When your dog has gained a little more experience with walking through the door on their own, begin to increase the distance between you and the door. 

Repeat this until they are confident enough to use the door with you a few feet away.

Step eight – Use the dog door exclusively

Last, but by no means least, make sure that your dog uses the dog door exclusively for a couple of weeks.

During this time, encourage your dog to come through the door by calling their name. With consistent training, your dog will be using their doggy door in no time.

Notes On Training Your Dog To Use A Dog Door 

Find Specific Treats For Training Your Dog

Training your dog using positive reinforcement can take a lot of praise and treats that can unbalance their diet if you give them the wrong kind.

For context, treats and snacks should only make up 10% of a dog’s daily calories.

The best treats for training are those that are small and soft, meaning that your dog can move onto the next and should be of high quality.

Have Patience

This isn’t a process that will happen overnight. Have patience and always encourage your dog without getting frustrated.

Daniel Johnson
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