Have a Timid Dog? Train them to use the Pet Door

How do I train my timid terrier to use the dog door?

Timid dogs may need extra training to use a pet door

Timid dogs may need extra training to use a pet door

Some dogs have no problem using the dog door the minute they realize it’s a way for them to go outside and get back into the house. Other dogs take a bit of convincing that this contraption holds a positive experience for them.

The most important thing is to make the experience a positive one. NEVER force – by pushing or pulling – your dog to go through the dog door. If your dog is afraid to come near the door, you can make it a comfortable and desirable place by sitting on the floor or a short stool near the door and calling the dog to you with a treat or favorite toy.

Once your dog feels the area near the dog door is a safe place, you can start to introduce the idea of going through the door. If you have a Hale Pet Door, you can order the optional training flaps that are slit vertically and have no strikes to stick to the magnets on the frame, so your dog doesn’t have to push on the solid flap. You can also securely fasten up the flaps (with blue painter’s tape to avoid wall damage), so they’re completely open or remove the flaps. Put the dog’s toy or a treat on the frame, so your dog will put his head partway through the opening to retrieve the reward. Continue doing so until your pup is willingly leaving his head through the opening. Don’t ask for anything more if he’s pulling his head back quickly or moving away from the door to finish his treat or play with his toy. Just continue playing with your dog at the pet door until he’s relaxed and feeling safe. Keep your sessions short and sweet with lots of love and praise.

After he starts to willingly go through the door with the flaps open, gradually let the flaps touch his back gently to desensitize him to the flaps touching his back as he goes through. Go slow; you don’t want him to be scared by the flaps. Keep your attitude and the whole experience positive.

Here are some other tactics to try and things to consider:

  • If your dog has a “doggie friend” who is used to using a pet door, invite the pooch over so your pup can see another canine use the dog door. This experience can encourage your dog to use the door if he follows his friend outdoors to play. Keep the experience positive so your pup will want to use the pet door.
  • Make sure the pet door is the right size for your dog. If you have a short-legged dog and he has to jump up to get through the pet door, he may get caught on the frame and get scared. Also consider the drop on the outside of the door as it may be lower to the ground outside. If so, you may need to make the landing area higher with a wooden box or bricks or a Hale Pet Door Ramp to help your dog feel safe as he goes through the door to the outside.
  • Adjust your attitude. Keep it friendly and smile. Don’t take it personally if your dog doesn’t want to use this great new thing you’ve bought him. If he doesn’t want to use the door, it’s because he’s scared of it for some good reason in his dog brain.
  • Remember that learning doesn’t happen in fearful situations. First your pup needs to feel safe and comfortable before he can learn to use the dog door.
  • If your dog will occasionally use the dog door when there’s an incentive, such as squirrels chattering in the yard, but asks you to let him out and back in most of the time – it may be that he has you trained as his human doorman. The only way to break this pattern is to ignore his requests until he uses the dog door regularly. Use a cue such as, “Doggy door,” in an upbeat voice when your dog uses his door to encourage him to go through the pet door. Think of ways to motivate your dog to want to use the dog door – go outside while your dog is inside and call him out to play or get a treat. Then do the same while the dog is outside.

A pet door can make both you and your dog’s life easier and more convenient. Your dog will be healthier when he can answer nature’s call when necessary instead of only when you’re home.

Adopt the Internet Day from Petfinder

Petfinder Adopt-the-Internet DayFor the past 15 years PetFinder has been dedicated to helping adoptable pets across the country find new forever homes.  Through their partnerships with hundreds of pet rescue organizations, thousands of pets have been adopted.

Now in celebration of their 15th anniversary, PetFinder is working harder than ever to get the word out about pet adoption using the resources of the Internet.

March 15, 2011, is “Adopt the Internet Day” on PetFinder.  Visit their site at http://www.petfinder.com/info/adopt-the-internet to see how you can participate in this special event.

Some of the ways to participate are by:

  • Adding a badge to your website
  • Taking a pledge
  • Captioning a photo
  • Donate your Facebook status and photo

Visit PetFinder to learn more.

House Training Tips

How do we house-break a 3-month-old Yorkie? We keep her in a wire crate with its door opened to the Hale doggy door so she can only go outside and not come into the house as such. If we were to let her come into the house she would leave her calling cards on the puppy pads and not save up to go outside. We need to get her little mind associated with the idea of going potty outside but have no idea about how to get the great outdoors of the fenced-in dog run associated with going potty there.  Any ideas? –N.J.P., Prescott, AZ

Yorkie dogTo train your puppy to go outside when she’s not crated you must train your dog just as you would if you didn’t use the crate.

This is accomplished by taking the pup outside when she wakes up and after eating. This involves a lot of bonding time with your pup, and she will accept your leadership.

A typical training scenario goes like this:

  • Puppy wakes up, and you call her to the door and go out together. As she sniffs around, take her to the area of the yard where you want her to go. Watch her behavior as she’ll give you clues that she’s about to potty. When she starts to go, say a word that you will use as a cue to let her know what you want her to do. Remember that dogs hear only the end of words, so use a command that ends in a different sound than other commands that you’ll use. When she’s finished, praise and reward her.
  • After the puppy eats repeat the above steps.
  • Take your pup out in the evening right before bed.
  • Take your puppy out first thing in the morning.
  • Your pup will let you know when she has to go by sniffing and circling, so get her outside as soon as you see these behaviors.

Do not have puppy pads in the house. The puppy pads attract your pup to them to eliminate, so using them in the house just encourages her to urinate in the house. The pads will be more useful if you put them out in the run where you want her to relieve herself.

Most puppies usually can start to control their elimination around four months of age depending on breed. Some youngsters have a few accidents in the house, and it’s important to treat it as an accident and never punish your pup. If you catch your puppy in the act, pick her up and run her outside to the toilet area.

Be sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect any accident spots, so your pup doesn’t smell the urine and think it’s a good spot to go. Avoid cleaners with ammonia because these cleaners smell like urine to dogs and can encourage urinating in the house. To eliminate urine odor, you can use vanilla extract to cover the smell.

It’s necessary to keep a watchful eye on your pup at all times. If you find that your puppy is still having accidents, you can fasten a leash to your belt so your puppy is close by at all times.

If you’re consistent with your training and your pup is physically mature enough to control herself, the time you invest in training will determine how fast your puppy learns where it’s appropriate to relieve herself. Be sure to get everyone in the household involved in this first training.

When you’re looking for a pet door, be sure to check out the best pet doors made in the USA at Hale Pet Door.