Any successful guidance or training of your dog is essentially based on the motivation being great enough to encourage the behavior. This is no different with the dog door. With the exception of the dog’s lacking even the most basic confidence, the ability to have freedom over their environment is such a great reinforcement as to make training to a dog door a fairly simple process.
The following method will result in a dog that can confidently and happily utilize a dog door. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the dog only needs to be forced through a few times. In fact, forcing a dog through a dog door is probably the best way to insure that the dog will never trust or be comfortable with the dog door. The dog that associates an unpleasant experience with the dog door is one that will be unlikely to use it. Not the result we are seeking!
If your dog is completely unfamiliar with dog doors, consider letting him observe parts of the installation (clearly while you are using a loud saw or other power tools might not be the best part). Then with a frame of the dog door installed, but the flap still off, take your dog’s favorite toy and stand on the opposite side of the door from your dog, call him through. You may need to even extend your arm through the gap and guide him with the toy (or treat if that would be a greater motivator). If his confidence is very lacking you may even give him the reward for simply taking a step toward the door or putting the first leg through. You simply want him to commit to that first baby step toward success.
Having your children outside while the dog is inside and can see them through the gap in the door can be enough to encourage checking out the door and coming through, as well.
Once your dog comes through the first time, you will want to stop working on it for a few minutes and make a great play session, several treats and/or a lot of loving. Help cement the idea that what he just did was great! If your dog tends to be excitable you will want to make a point of keeping the rewarding calm, you don’t want your dog to learn to bounce through the door.
You will want to practice this going in and out several times. Once the dog seems relaxed with the process you can affix the flap/door.
Now reintroduce the door, but push it open a few inches so your dog can still see you. You might even pull the door toward yourself so that when the dog comes to investigate he will simply continue pushing it toward you and have the reinforcement of seeing you the entire time. When he comes through the first time, like before, you will want to take a break for a play session, several treats and/or some attention. It can take some time for your dog to become comfortable with the flap/door as it must be pushed and then slides along his back as he goes through. At first, hold the door the entire time he goes through. Gradually, let the door touch his back (but not hard) more and more. Again, keeping him calm and slow will help minimize things like the door slamming on his tail or making noises that might discourage him from using the door.
Again, keeping this process calm means that no one uses the dog door as a toy. The dog is not rapidly called in and out if only because this will encourage the dog to go too fast for safety and potentially create the habit of rushing through the door.
SWAT Adopters receive a 10% discount off the purchase price of a Hale Pet Door product. Hale will also send a check for that same amount to SWAT as a gift to them. It is their way of saying “thank you for opting to adopt and thereby save a life.”
Hale Pet Doors can go through walls, doors, screens, French doors, windows units and sliding glass doors.
Visit halepetdoor.com or call 888-293-6411. When you order, mention that you adopted from Southwest Airedale Terrier Rescue and the date of adoption.