Dogs crave freedom, and if they’re stuck inside a small apartment or home, it is difficult to give them the space they deserve. After all, you probably prefer to get up and walk around every few hours while you’re at work, don’t you? Your pup feels the same.
Even if it’s not for letting them get out of the house, you may also need to let them out of your bedroom in the night. If you allow your dog to sleep in your bedroom with you, it may need to leave the room sometime in the night to potty. Imagine having to get out of bed numerous times in the night letting your furry in and out of the bedroom!
Not sure how to give them that freedom without making them choose between outside or indoors all day? A dog door is the solution (well, it’s one of them)! A dog door gives the dog the freedom to enter or leave the house or room any time they want, whether to go outside to potty or simply to get some fresh air.
Before heading to your nearest pet store, however, and purchasing the first dog door you see, there are a few things to keep in mind. Namely, it’s important to know that there are many types and sizes of dog doors, and the installation of each requires different tools and processes.
Here’s what to know about choosing the right dog door and then how to train your dog to use the door.
How to Choose the Right Size Dog Door
This is quite obviously a pretty crucial step in selecting the right dog door, even more so than the materials or style of the door itself. The goal is simple, though. Whenever you choose a dog door, select the size that allows your dog not only to move through the door easily but also provides them with some wiggle room.
The idea is that they should run in and out with ease, so it might be a good idea to take your pup with you when measuring doors.
Regarding the style of the dog door, you’re able to find doors that fit into your current door (back door, front door, etc.) or even find a door that you’ll be able to fit on an outside wall to the house (do keep in mind that this would come with an additional installation cost and a bit more hassle). The options in terms of style are usually restricted to plastic or aluminum, small or large, and wall-entry or door-entry.
If you’re looking for recommendations on where to start, we suggest checking out the PetSafe Wall Entry Pet Door as it has a telescoping entry and sliding doors to keep out unwanted guests when your pup is tucked in for the night.
You might also consider PetSafe Electronic Smart Door-Collar, which is a unique door that connects to your dog’s collar and only allows them to enter when it detects them (making it a great option if you’re trying to keep other pets out).
How to Introduce Dogs to a Dog Door
While a dog door is useful, sometimes dogs aren’t always aware of how to use the door on their own. And, depending on their age, it might actually scare them to imagine going in and out of the door on their own. This means that if you have recently bought a dog door and want to train your pup on how to use it, you’ll need to start slowly.
The goal here is to remain patient and never force your dog to go through the door if they don’t want to. If you make the training sessions interesting and rewarding, it will help your dog learn faster. Aside from patience and a bit of persistence, here’s how to train your dog to use the dog door properly.
Introduce Your Dog to the Door
Before installing the dog door, it’s a good idea to let your dog sniff it and perhaps even play with it if that’s how they grow comfortable around new people and objects. Once they’re familiar with the sight and smell of a new object, you can then install the door. However, we’d recommend taking your dog elsewhere while you do, because our next tip is…
Don’t Install the Door with the Dog
For you to train your dog to use a dog door without fear, you’ll want to make sure that they’re not around when you’re installing it. The loud noises of the installation process could make your dog scared of the door, and that’s the last thing you want when you’re training them!
Play Games Outside the Door
Now that the door is installed, it’s time to get your dog used to using it! To do this, we suggest utilizing your dog’s favourite treats and toys. Have one person stand on the other side of the door and call your dog through it with their favourite treat.
Then, once they’re through the door, you can call them back to the other side with another treat or toy. If your dog tries to enter via another door or window, simply redirect them with treats through the new dog door.
Use Positive Reinforcement
As is the case for other forms of dog training, positive reinforcement is a great way to help a dog learn something new. When training a dog to use a dog door, positive reinforcement can help them learn a bit more quickly. This goes hand in hand, really, with what we suggested above. When they walk through the door, praise them with a positive voice and give them a treat. It’s easier if the treat has a strong smell as it will encourage them to go through the door.
Never force your dogs to use the dog door and if they don’t use it often, just continue to rely on positive reinforcement when they do. Over time, they’ll learn the correct way. If they don’t, it might be worth measuring the size again as they might feel like it’s too small for them to fit through comfortably.
Prop the Door Open
If your pup is not used to or is unsure about pressing the flap of the dog door open, then make sure you prop it open until they get used to doing it themselves. You can use a wooden stick or a piece of tape to prop it open for the time being. Then, once the dog gets used to pressing the flap of the door open, you can remove the wooden stick or tape.
If it’s still an issue, then we’d recommend taking another look at the PetSafe Electronic Smart Door-Collar. The flap will open once it detects your dog’s collar nearby, making it an excellent solution for shy pups unsure about entering alone.
Pay Attention to the Length of Training Sessions
How long should the training sessions last? This is a common question frequently asked by dog owners. The training sessions should last about as long as your puppy’s attention. If it’s a younger puppy, this might only be five to ten minutes; if they’re older, you might be able to extend this to 15 minutes.
It’s beneficial to limit the training sessions to no longer than 15 minutes, regardless, as you want them to view the door as a useful tool instead of a chore. Short sessions will keep your dog happy and active. It will also prevent them from disliking the door and view it as something negative.
A dog door is another tool that’s supposed to help you have more fun out of keeping a dog as a pet. It’ll save you time from having to constantly help your pet to open doors. However, you have to be patient in training your dog to use the door. It may take awhile but it’ll all be worthwhile when your dog finally get independent enough to use the door on its own.