Do you feel guilty when you leave your dog at home alone for a few hours? So much so that you are considering installing a dog door?
Think about it.
Freedom, independence, no more troublesome indoor accidents to clean up after your dog.
What’s not to love?
A dog door was probably something you never took into consideration when you first bought your new puppy. That’s natural, there are far more important and exciting things to think about like what you are going to name her and where you can go on holiday together!
But now things have settled down and you have come to realise that a dog door would give both you and your dog a sense of freedom and independence.
Before you leap into purchasing a door for your pet though, let’s go through a few things.
Just so that you’re sure what you are getting into.
Or out of.
Did you like that little joke?
Ok. Moving on. These following points will help both you and your dog to get the most out of that square piece of toughened plastic that you are thinking of installing into your door (or window – yes! The dog door can be fitted into a glass door!)
Why Get a Dog Door?
Perhaps your family circumstances have changed and you find yourself with a dog that is no longer let outside by the kids who have returned home from school.
You work long hours and have to leave your pooch at home for extended periods of time.
You work from home and can’t always be available to let your dog outside to the loo. (Either that or sometimes you forget – it happens!).
It could be that your dog suffers from an illness that doesn’t allow her bladder to hold for very long? Diabetes in dogs is a common disease and as such leaves the dog needing to urinate more often.
Or maybe you have an illness that doesn’t allow you to get to the back door as quickly as you used to be able to.
All very common scenarios, and the answer to each?
A dog door.
Training A Puppy To Use The Dog Door
As with anything concerning your dog the bottom line is training. If you are prepared to invest the time and effort into training your puppy properly – then life will become a whole lot easier and dog door training is no different.
It is a good idea to remove the flap from the dog door while your new puppy is getting the hang of things.
When introducing your puppy to use the dog door, try to choose a time when life is calm (if at all possible with a new puppy!) for example, if you are about to take off on holiday for a couple of days are leaving pooch with a dog sitter, now might not be the best time to tackle training.
Contain The Area Around The Dog Door
- Containing your new puppy near to the door while they are learning to use the dog door will motivate them to pee outside.
- Don’t give your puppy too much access to the rest of the house when you are training her to use the dog door. If you have a large house think about cordoning off the section around the door. We recommend using a foldable playpen that can be used as a portable fence to keep your puppy contained within this area.
Put Her Indoor Crate Into The Area
- Move your puppy’s bed or indoor dog kennel into the area near the door and make it as comfortable as possible. Be sure not to leave her in a draught from the door or she will make negative associations. Dog door = cold = unfriendly!
- Spend lots of time in the area with your puppy, hang out in her doggy den, sit by the door flap, put your hand through it to make her see that there is nothing to be afraid of.
Bribery, Time And Patience!
- Put some tasty treats out of the open flap and encourage your puppy to go through the dog door and enjoy them!
- Like any form of dog training, this takes time and patience. Don’t rush your puppy at this stage and don’t make a fuss – dogs are very susceptible to stress and will pick up on it immediately if she thinks that the door is the cause of this angst.
Go Outside With Your Puppy
- Once your puppy goes through the pet door open the door (be sure not to let him in or out through the open door) go and stand outside with him.
- Use whichever command you like: “go and be clean” “go and pee” etc, and wait for your dog to do his business.
- Remember to praise your dog if he does pee or poop!
- Continue with this training until your puppy will go out of the door herself without being bribed.
- Gradually increase the area of containment so that your puppy has to go a little further each time to reach the door.
- Some dogs made a little gentle help when they use the dog door for the first few times. Lift them up with two hands and gently pass them through the door. It helps if there is someone on the other side using equal amounts of encouragement.
Training An Older Dog To Use The Dog Door
Training an old dog new tricks isn’t as easy as a young pup.
Not true. Not always.
Depending on the breed of your dog the advantage of training an older dog is that you don’t have to worry so much about ‘accidents’ and of skitty young behaviour.
Training an older dog to use the pet door should be quick and easy if you are patient with each other!
- Use the same principles as above.
- Be aware that containment may cause some confusion amongst older dogs. If your dog appears distressed over the confinement area then instead just make your dog as comfortable as possible by putting his indoor dog kennel or dog bed not far from the dog door.
- If this is not possible (maybe you live in a two storey house) then we suggest hanging out with your dog by the door as much as possible.
- Take the flap off off the dog door and place your dogs’ food outside the door where he can see it. Encourage him to use the door to go outside and to come back in.
- Some dogs made a little gentle help when they first use the dog door for the first few times. Lift them up with two hands and gently pass them through the door. It helps if there is someone on the other side using equal amounts of encouragement.
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Some Problems That Can Occur When Using The Dog Door
“My puppy just won’t go through the door. It’s as if he is scared of what’s on the other side!”
Check to see if there are any obstructions outside the dog door.
Is there is a slippy surface that’s making him feel unsafe?
Is there a drop off outside the door?
Check for these things and correct. Use a non-slip mat and make uneven paving areas smooth.
“My older dog isn’t having any of it. Instead, he sits whining for me to open the door so that he can go and pee”
Take the flap of the dog door off and go and spend time outside as a family where your dog can see you. Sit and relax outside or play with the kids in the garden. Make sure you are visible to your pooch. Once you have his attention keep calling him out to you but do not open the door. Go to the open flap and encourage him to come out and join you.
If he is outside and won’t use the dog door to come back in, reverse the scenario. Spend time as a family inside so that he can see you and doesn’t want to be excluded.
My dog has reverted back to having accidents! She refuses to use the dog and has started peeing inside. Help!
Don’t panic! This is quite common when training a dog to use the pet door and is easily fixed!. If your dog messes inside the house use a cleaner which contains enzymes to clean the accident up. Enzymes breakdown the poo or pee molecularly to fully remove the smell.
If you don’t use such a cleaner then you will run the risk of the smell remaining, causing confusion in your dog and possibly encouraging her to go to the toilet in the same spot.
If your dog is having accidents in the house then use the doggy playpen for the confinement method until this is rectified. Do NOT punish your dog for these accidents, this will only make matters worse. Be patient and calm.
“I don’t want stray cats and the sort coming through the door at night. How will I stop my dog using it to go out at night?”
The dog door comes with a lockable piece that you slide into the door when not in use.
Get your dog into the routine of sleeping through the night. To monitor your pooches sleep patterns and to see what he is up to in the wee hours we recommend you use a FitBark 2 Activity and sleep monitor to give you peace of mind.
“Now I have my dog door can I can go away for the weekend and leave him?”
No. Absolutely not. A dog door is not a substitute for walking your dog nor are they an excuse to leave your dog alone for hours on end. They are a supportive aid to help give you and your pet independence and used sensibly the dog door will make your life and your pooches a good deal happier and easier!
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The dog door has given thousands of New Zealand dog owners and their pets the freedom that they both desire. You will find that if you follow the above steps (and be patient!) a few weeks is all it should take for your dog to be using the pet door happily.