Training a dog to use a dog door

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Training a dog to use a dog door may require some patience on the owner's part

Installing a dog door makes life a whole lot easier for the owner and for the dog. No more accidents indoors because the dog couldn’t get outside. Now it can. Once the door is installed the owner takes part in training a dog to use a dog door. There is no point in having the door if the dog doesn’t know how to exit and enter through it.

Depending on the kind of dog and its personality, the animal may quickly learn how to use a manual pet door or it may be scared of it and resist going near it. A dog may not like the sensation of the door flap against its back as it exits or enters. The canine may be frightened by the noise some doors make when opening and closing

Let the dog practice going through the door before attaching the flap. Sit outside with a treat and encourage the dog to come outside via the door.

Once this is mastered, trade places with the animal. Put the dog out, sit inside and do the same thing in reverse. Rewarding the canine with treats helps. Praise also goes a long way in getting a dog to cooperate.

Install the flap and do the same thing you did previously. Sit inside while the dog sits outside and encourage the animal to come inside using the door. And then sit outside while the dog sits inside.

Ask a family member to help. This person gives the flap a little push, helping the animal get through the flap. Continue practicing, in and out.

If the dog still doesn’t want to cooperate, poke at the flap. This lets him see it is a movable object and encourages him to poke at it with his nose, which opens the flap.  Eventually the dog pushes the flap itself.

Some owners have actually crawled through doggie doors, demonstrating how it is done. Be patient. It may take a while before Rover gets the hang of it.


Before installing the opening for the door the owner needs to measure the rise of the dog. This is the measurement from the lowest part of the dog’s stomach or chest to the floor. This lets you know where the bottom of the doggie door needs to be placed.

Also consider how tall the animal will ultimately get. If the door is placed low to accommodate a puppy it may have to be raised later on when the animal reaches maturity.

When buying a dog door pay close attention to the flap. The flap design and the way it interacts with the door frame are important. The flap must be flexible so it doesn’t pinch and injure the animal.

Select a flap that doesn’t harden during cold weather, which happens with vinyl flaps. When the flaps get extremely stiff they can break off when the animal goes through the door. Choose a flap constructed of polyolefin-based polymer. This flap stays flexible regardless of the temperature.

Pick a clear flap. Heavily tinted flap will yellow over the years due to exposure to the sun.

The door you choose needs to resist wind and be sturdy because it’s going to be used a lot. It also needs to be insulated so your home doesn’t get cold.

Once the animal adapts to the new door, the pet and owner are both happy. A lot less time is spent herding animals in and out.

The door is ideal for owners who are away from home during the day. The pet can let itself in and out whenever it wants. The owner no longer comes home to some ‘icky’ surprises.

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