Puppies can use doggie doors, but they might need your help opening the flap. Hold the flap open until your dog is able to open it by themselves.
Puppies that won’t push open the door by themselves may be willing to push aside something else. Take out the flap and install of piece of soft carpeting in the opening, which most dogs will feel more confident about moving on their own.
This works best if you have at least ¼-½” of a gap on each side of the door. Eventually, you can replace this material as your dog becomes more confident about using a solid door.
Some puppies tend to be frightened by the noise of a door opening and closing. These dogs shouldn’t be forced to use it, because doing so could scare them to the point where they’ll never adjust to it.
Table of Contents
- What Age Can a Puppy Use a Doggie Door?
- How Do I Get My Puppy to Use the Doggie Door?
- Step 1: Call Your Dog to You
- Step 2: Lower the Flap
- Step 3: Put Down the Door Entry
- Step 4: Let Your Dog Go Through the Door On Their Own
- Step 5: Call Your Dog Back the Other Way
- Are Doggie Doors Good for Puppies?
- What is the Hardest Puppy Breed to Potty Train with a Dog Door?
What Age Can a Puppy Use a Doggie Door?
Puppies can start using a dog door at around 4-6 months of age. Rope off a dedicated confinement area for your dog that points to the door, and keep him or her in this area until they’re 7-8 months old.
As your dog grows, you can continue to add more space by stretching out soft baby fencing material or a dedicated exercise pen. Make sure that the confinement area extends to the wall that the door is in, so your dog will naturally go outside that way whenever they want to go potty.
Some breeds grow faster than others, so your dog might need a little more time to mature.
How Do I Get My Puppy to Use the Doggie Door?
According to AKC training experts, you should start by either holding the door flap up or taping it in place. Go to the other side of the door and then follow this simple outline.
Step 1: Call Your Dog to You
Use an enthusiastic voice to encourage your dog to step through the doggie door and meet you outside. Offer verbal encouragement along the way, especially if your dog seems uncomfortable with the idea.
Once your dog makes it to the other side, you might want to treat your dog to further encourage them.
Step 2: Lower the Flap
Remove any tape that’s in place and lower the flap a bit more. Call your dog through the door and encourage him or her to come even though the reduced entryway might appear a little scary.
Don’t force your dog if he or she won’t come. A good rule of thumb is to schedule frequent training sessions but only make them around 10-15 minutes in length to keep from frustrating your dog.
Step 3: Put Down the Door Entry
Put your dog on one side of the door and and then go to the other side without using your hand, tape or any other tool to hold up the door closure. Call your dog and see if he or she will go through the door without needing any further prompting.
If your dog doesn’t go through, then try moving around your yard and making a little noise. Your dog might very well get the idea that he or she is missing out on something fun and head out to see what’s going on.
Step 4: Let Your Dog Go Through the Door On Their Own
Repeat the previous step without calling your animal. Simply stand on the other side so your dog knows you’re there.
Once your dog gets comfortable with the idea of going through the door, they might be willing to try it without you. Move further and further away from the door until your dog has no trouble going through the doggie door without your assitance.
Step 5: Call Your Dog Back the Other Way
Stand on the inside of your home when your dog is in the yard and see if your puppy comes to you. If not, then you’ll need to call them and treat them once they finally do.
Some pet owners have found that it’s considerably harder to get their dogs to come back inside through a door. Pick up your dog and hold them in front of the door if they don’t like the motion in that direction. That should help them get an idea about the right way to do it.
Don’t use too much force if you have to do this, because you could potentially risk scaring your dog and making them not want to use the pet door at all.
Are Doggie Doors Good for Puppies?
Doggie doors are good for precocious puppies who don’t mind trying new things, but pet owners shouldn’t normally start training them before they’re at least a few months old. Dogs that are less than 6 months old should be kept in a small confinement area you make by putting up fencing or furniture to encourage your dog to head to the door instead of just asking you to go out.
That being said, it’s important to start training dogs to use their door as soon as possible. While it’s possible to teach older dogs to start using a doggie door, it’s significantly easier to train them when they’re younger.
What is the Hardest Puppy Breed to Potty Train with a Dog Door?
Afghan hounds and dalmatians are among the hardest breeds to teach to use a dog door. They both have strong independent streaks and need to have a strong owner or trainer, or they might end up thinking they’re in charge.
Both of these breeds tend to be rather hard to potty train in general. Chow Chows, Pekingese and bulldogs all tend to be headstrong as well, so it might be hard to teach them to use a dog door as well.
Basset hounds and dachshunds might pose a problem as well. While they have a natural tunneling instinct that makes it easy for them to learn to open doggie doors, they’re notoriously hard to potty train and might not do their business after they go outside.