4 Steps to Teach a Sensitive Dog to Confidently use a Doggie Door

1. Teach Dog to Go Through an Uncovered Pet Door

Completely remove the flap covering the door. In the case of the Petsafe Doors, which are not removable, use heavy packing tape to tape the flap completely up out of the way. Make sure the opening is 100% open and the dog can see outside. Bait the dog through the door with treats, toys, or affection until he or she runs through it with no problems.

Still too scary? Two suggestions:

  1. Using really high quality stinky treats like cheese or meat, sit on the opposite side of the door, and coax her to just put her head through. or
  2. Leave the dog outside, set food inside, and wait, very patiently, for the dog to get the courage up to come through the door. When it does finally come through, praise, praise, praise and play for 5-15 minutes before putting her out to do it again. (If put back out immediately, she may think coming in was a bad thing)

2. Creating a Soft & Silent Partial Door

With the flap still detached or out of the way, and the dog willingly going through the unobstructed opening, hang an old dishtowel or hand towel so that it covers ¼ or ½ of the pet door opening. Work with the dog entering and exiting the door with the opening partially covered. You may have to use the two methods described above to show her the covered door is still useable. Gradually move the dishtowel down until it covers more and more of the door. When your dog is entering and exiting the petdoor completely covered by the cloth you are ready to move on.

3. Cover Doggie Door with a Cardboard Flap

(If your dog is doing great this this point, you may try skipping this step) Step three involves a covering firmer than the cloth in step two and is more like the actual flap of your dog door. This flap will ideally be identical to the experience of going through the normal dog door but will lack the snapping or popping sound of the closing mechanism. Whatever you use- plastic or flimsy cardboard- cut to size so that the covering can swing back and forth through the door and attach covering to the dog door so that it is covering ¼ or ½ of the pet door opening. Gradually lower. When your pet is completely comfortable entering and exiting through the silent doggie door cover, then continue to step four.

4. Modified Flap

Reattach (or, in the case of the petsafe, untape) the dog door flap. And coax your dog through. If you are having problems, tape the flap so that the bottom half or even just a corner is lifted and shows daylight. Your pet, used to this method, should readily go through and after a day or two of the partial taping should be ready to use the standard dog door flap in the normal way.

Congratulations! You should have a pet that is happily using a dog door now. Now that your dog has a pet door he or she can use, it will give your dog a sense of confidence and freedom from having to worry about being left outside or stuck inside.

Pamela Wiltgen