Doggy Door 101
Having a doggy door installed in your home can save you a lot of time. It allows your dog to take care of his basic needs without requiring you to open the door each and every time. It also allows your dog to go out and enjoy the yard at will. This means you don’t have to hear him bark or cry each time a bird flies by or a rabbit runs through the lawn. Teaching your dog to use the doggy door is one of the simplest tasks that you will have to train on. Most dogs will get this concept within a couple of tries.
Installing Your Pet Door
Before you can begin training, you must have the doggy door installed. When selecting and installing the doggy door, make sure you measure your dog’s “rise.” This is the amount of room between the floor and the lowest part of your dog’s chest or stomach. Place the bottom of the door an inch or two lower than your dog’s rise to allow for easy access.
For puppies, install the door flush with the ground and then move it upwards as your puppy grows. If this option isn’t feasible, take a guess at your dog’s full-grown size and install the door for your puppy’s estimated adult size. Then install a ramp so your puppy can use the door easily until he grows into it.
Initial Training Preparations
Once you are ready to start doggy door training, open the door for your dog. If there is a flap on the door, like most models, remove it. If you cannot remove it, make sure it is fully open so the opening is not obstructed. This will allow your dog to see that he can come through the doggy door, and help calm any fears he may have. He’ll also be able to see you during training and know that it’s safe to go back and forth.
Training With Your Dog
If your pooch is a little stubborn or afraid of the door, do not force him to go through it. Just sit by the door and hang out for a while. Read a book or surf the internet while you ignore the door. After a while, your dog will go up and sniff the door and check it out and learn that it’s not so scary. After he is used to the door being where it is, then you can begin training.
Next, go outside and call your dog. Have plenty of treats on hand to encourage him to come through the doggy door. After he is outside with you, praise and positive reinforcement will teach him that the door is a good thing. Then go back inside and call your dog again. Repeat this process several times until your dog goes through the door willingly and without coaxing. After your dog is proficient at using the doggy door with no flap, it’s time to put the flap down. Then repeat the training process as you did above. You will do this until your dog understands that it’s okay for him to go through the flap.
Be liberal with your praise (and the treats), but don’t get complacent. Your dog may think the doggy door training is a game, and may be confused or leery of going through the door again when it’s time to go potty. You should watch out for signs that he has to relieve himself so you can remind him that it’s okay to go through the doggy door when he needs to go outside. After your dog gets the hang of things, you can move on to other training.
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