Teaching Quest How to Use the Dog Door


Because my Adult Dalmatian Farley has urinary stones, I installed a dog door a few years ago. It took Farley a little while to get used to it so I knew that I wanted to do a little puppy training to get Quest comfortable with it right away.

Dogs learn through observation and my puppy Quest watched Farley and my other dog Cali go in and out the door many times over the first week he was home. Training a puppy to use a dog door is much easier if you have other dogs.

A few days before I took the video below, Quest started to scratch at the dog doors. He figured out how to go through the single pane dog door the following day. But living in the midwest, I have two dog doors; one is a single through the door to the mudroom.

The second door that leads to the yard has two doors to add some extra insulation to keep the cold out. That door was proving to be a bit challenging for little Quest. Well that was until something else added some extra incentive to use the two panel dog door!

If your dog has difficulty or in reluctant to go through the door, try springing it open with your hand. Do it with a big movement as dog’s eyes and minds are attracted to movement.

If your dog or puppy is still reluctant to use the doggie door, taping the door / flap up to the wall so its just a hole to pass through can help your dog get used to going through the door itself. Once it does so without any hesitation, you can remove the tape from the door.

If your dog is a big retriever / loves the ball, taping the flap up then bouncing a ball through the opening can help. Chasing / pursuit is a strong motivator for many dogs. You may have to position someone else on the other side of the door and basically bounce the ball back and forth. When you use this approach,  don’t overly encourage the dog, just keep the dog in the immediate area so it sees the ball bouncing through.

Many dogs are so motivated to be with their humans, that leaving the dog outside and having the human head inside can help give them the extra motivation to go through the dog door to reunite with the human.

If you don’t currently have one but have the means to install a dog door, I strongly recommend it. I can’t tell you how many times I left an event or part earlier than I wanted to because I didn’t want the dogs to have to hold it for too long. In addition to the potty access, if my dogs need to burn off a little excess energy, they can head outside to play ball, chase and bark at squirrels, and howl at the moon if needed, lol.

Plus I have the added comfort of knowing that if there was a fire, my pooches are empowered to get outside to safety on their own.

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