When to Install Dog Door

When Can a Puppy Use a Dog Door?

Puppies that are around 4-6 months old can start training to use a dog door. Dogs that are this young should have their paths blocked off during the day to encourage them to use the dog door instead of begging their owners to go outside.

Trainers call this region a confinement area, but it’s better to think of it as a playpen. Puppies that are younger than this are probably too busy getting acquainted with their surroundings to try learning how to use a dog door.

Precocious dogs who’ve already learned about the world around them might be able to grasp the concept of a dog door a bit earlier than others.

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How Do You Potty Train a Puppy with a Dog Door?

Assuming that your dog is at least familiar with the concept of a dog door, teach them to go out by using a cue word like “potty” and then take them to a dedicated area when you have them outside. Pet owners with more than one dog will want to work on a single one at a time.

Just Paws Training separates the dogs first before training in their video:

They also advise pet owners to not get their dogs excited when they put them out. Just let the dogs go out and then treat or praise them after they’ve done their business.

You may also want to consider sounding a clicker to instruct your dog on what to do if you’re already clicker-training him or her. No matter how you’re training them, though, the following steps should be helpful.

Step 1 – Prepare Your Dog to Go Potty

You’ll want to start with a small dress rehearsal to get your dog introduced to the concept of a doggy door. If your dog is particularly rowdy, then you may have to start by quickly using a slip leash to get him or her under control.

Puppies generally won’t have any idea what a doggy door is for, so you’ll want to try hitting or holding the door so it stays open at first. Try setting up a restricted area in your house where your dog has to go out the door to get to anywhere.

You may want to use a baby gate or some kind of playpen to make sure that your dog heads straight for the door.

Step 2 – Make Your Dog Head to the Door

Place your puppy in the confined area you have set up. Stand on the exterior of your home, just outside of your doggy door.

While you don’t want to get your dog super excited, you can call your puppy if he or she won’t come. Try holding the door open from the other side if your dog proves to be particularly reluctant.

Don’t encourage your dog so much that they get excited, though, or they might start to associate the dog door with something other than potty time.

Step 3 – Let Your Dog Investigate the Door

Skittish puppies might need some time to get acquainted with the door, so let your dog explore it if he or she doesn’t feel all that comfortable yet. If your puppy is afraid of the movement of the door, then you might want to tape it open until they get used to the motion.

Scaring your puppy now could discourage them from ever learning to use it. Some dogs might take a while to completely sniff over the frame of the dog before they’ll go through it.

Step 4 – Call Your Puppy to You

Call your puppy through the door and encourage them to come over. You’ll want to offer treats and praise, but keep in mind that you’re teaching your dog to do their business so don’t get them too excited about it.

Repeat the process until your puppy can walk through the door without showing any sort of hesitation. As with all forms of training, keep the session brief to avoid frustration.

Step 5 – Teach Your Puppy to Go Potty Outside

Whenever you notice that your puppy seems to want to do their business, go outside and start calling them to come through the doggy door. You may want to use verbal praise or treats to reward them whenever they successfully make it outside.

Reward your dog a second time when he or she goes potty. You’ll need to repeat this process until your puppy figures out how to go through the dog on their own.

Stop treating once your dog reliably goes through the door on their own. Otherwise, they might expect it each time they have to go.

How Long Does it Take to Train a Dog to Use a Doggie Door?

Most puppies will start going through the door on their own after only a few training sessions. If you make sure to keep sessions short and do them regularly over time, then your dog should take to the door in around a week.

Some dogs will require additional time, especially if they didn’t warm up to the concept of a doggy door very quickly. Others might take much more quickly, especially if your dog was never scared by the swinging motion these door makes.

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Should I Lock the Dog Door When Potty Training My Puppy?

Locking the door is a good idea if your dog constantly tries to dash back inside instead of going potty. Make sure that you don’t do so suddenly, though, or your dog might run straight into a locked entryway!

Unlock the door as soon as your dog has done their business. If you have to resort to this kind of training, then make sure not to make a habit of it.

Only lock the door until your dog learns to stay outside and go potty. Once your dog gets acclimated to the use of the door, they’ll want to go in and out regularly even when they don’t need to do their business.