Helping a Dog Feel Good About Using the Dog Door

By: David Codr

Published Date: December 5, 2018

For this Los Angeles dog training session, we help 8 year-old Lab / Terrier mix Riley get over his fear of the dog door and share tips to help his room mate 7 year-old Border Collie / Australian Shepherd mix Lola stop barking.

These dogs have dealt with a lot of stress recently. In addition to a major change in the family unity, they live RIGHT next door to the edge of the horrible wildfires that destroyed so many homes in California. While their house was spared, the stress of that situation and other things clearly didn’t help.

I asked a number of questions about the dog behavior problems as well as probed to determine what kind of structure was in place. When I learned the dogs didn’t have many rules and saw the guardian inadvertently reward undesired behaviors, I knew where to start.

I suggested ways to incorporate structure such as adding in rules, how to enforce them, asking the dogs to earn their affection (Petting with a purpose) and how to motivate them to behave how we want through passive training.

When you have dogs that bark, redefining the leader follower dynamic so they don’t feel the burden of responsibility allows them to relax and stop thinking it’s their job to protect you or guard the house. As a dog psychologist, I learned that creating a home environment where the dogs see themselves as followers is a great place to start. Until that happens the dog barking will likely continue.

We discussed the importance of exercise and I shared tips on how to get the dog to fetch and bring the ball back to the human by playing a little hard to get and only picking he ball up when its dropped in the right place.

Since the dogs love to fetch, getting an automatic ball throwing machine would be a great idea. I showed the guardian a video of my own dog California using the Go Dog Go machine we have at my home. Teaching the dogs to fetch on their own will really help stop the dog barking as a tired dog is usually a well behaved one.

Next I wanted to show the guardian how to use a Conditioned Emotional Response or CER to help Riley get over his fear of the doggy door. When his guardian asked him to use the dog door, he would move away. I wouldn’t say he was scared, but he certainly had reservations and had refused to use the dog door, even with the flap removed.

Teaching a dog learn to use a dog door is all about creating a positive experience. Going through a small space is not a natural activity for dogs and some have real problems with human doors, let alone one with a flap that comes down on your butt when you use it.

If the guardian continues this dog door practice as outlined in the above free dog training video, Riley will start to feel good about going through the dog door and start using it in no time.

As we were wrapping up the session the guardian asked me if I could help her keep the dogs from charging the door. You can learn how to train a dog to stay behind an invisible line 10 feet away from the door with this link.

To help the guardian remember all the dog behavior tips and secrets I shared in this in home dog training session, we shot a roadmap to success video that you can watch below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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