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Training Your Dog To Use The Dog Door

Tips for training your dog to start using a pet door.

This whole adventure began with a simple mistake. I simply over looked our dog Lily’s sense of contentment. Silke and I had left her out on our screened in porch before and we never really gave it a second thought. Sure we came back to a few ‘accidents’, but these were only but a few and after awhile she seemed to grasp her new boundaries.

Why would our dog be content to just sit in the screen porch when there’s a whole back yard to play in? All she needed to escape was to put all of her massive ten pounds against the screen and voila! she was in the yard. A trip to the hardware store ensued.

With the newly repaired screen in place it only made sense to at least give her the option to go out into the yard.

Enter The PetSafe Dog Door

These pet doors come in all shapes and sizes and are not just inclusive to dogs, but cats of all sizes as well. It seemed like a simple fix. It was anything but easy once you threw in the ‘Lily factor’.

Lily has her own quirks; she attacks other dogs and likes to run in circles. The attacks other dogs part is unreal. No matter the breed or size, it’s fair game. I saw her life flash before my eyes when she got into it with a pit bull once. The circle thing has always been strange.

I’m not talking about a cute chasing her tail episode. The circumference varies  but she’ll go for extended periods of running in complete circles. We thought she was nervous when we first got her but this never really went away. Concern has progressed to ‘Oh that’s just Lily being Lily’.

Lily was not down with the dog door. We used the guide on the box to help determine what size dog door to get so I scratched this off the list of possible reasons why she wouldn’t want to use it or is simply afraid to. Silke looked into the problem online and saw that introducing your pet to the entrance and showing that its acceptable to use it is a good way to begin.

So we all went on the porch. I looked down at Lily and said “Lily, this the door.” I then turned and looked at the door and gestured toward Lily, “door this is Lily.”

The prize on the other side of the door for our dog

Trying out the new pet door

Silke rolled her eyes and picked Lily up and went outside with her. For the next 20 minutes we sat on either side trying to coax her in and out. Just getting her to go through the hole would have been a milestone so we taped the door open. A reward was given for each pass through. Things seemed to be progressing in the right direction.

We decided to go to a movie that night and we thought this would be as good a chance as any to see how well she had adapted to all of this. I really didn’t want to repair the screen again so extra precaution was taken to protect the screened areas of the porch. The door was left taped open and Lily was left to her own devices.

When we got home the door was off and hanging by the tape that we had used to keep it open.

Lily was circling but at least she was inside the porch. Nothing was destroyed but the doggy door was definitely being avoided. It was a little bit of a challenge to get the door back in. I could only wonder how fast she was going to be able to take the whole door off. To complicate matters she seemed to be even more freaked out by it.

All hope is not lost. If we spend some time with her each day and reassure her that it’s really nothing to be afraid of, maybe she’ll come around to actually using it.

Does your pet have a problem with this or are we an isolated incident? Feel free to comment and share your experience with us.

3 Responses to Training Your Dog To Use The Dog Door

  • Progress! Lily just casually walked right through the opening this morning. One of the key factors to this was that the door was actually closed and she had to move it out of the way. When the door was taped open she would make a mad dash and just end up hurting herself. Little steps.

  • Update: Success! Lily has mastered the doggy door. She isn’t shy about it at all now and can come and go as she pleases. With a slight nudge she pushes the door with her paw and then sneaks her nose through to a gentle slide outside. No more banging or ripped off doors. Life is good.

  • I guess once Lily learns something she doesn’t forget. After staying on the family farm for over 6 months without a pet door she came back home and used the doggy door again like it was no big deal. LOL

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