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Teach Your Dog to Open and Close Doors

 by danielle on 30 Jul 2014 |
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Wouldn’t it be amazing if your dog knew how to open the door to let themselves outside in the mornings? Guide dogs are taught this skill as a necessity, but with a bit of training it is quite possible for any dog to become a door opening extraordinaire.
 
There are a number of methods to teach door opening – one of the most effective is to use the humble post-it note.

 
 
The first step is to get your dog to learn that touching the post-it note is a great idea. Hold it in your hand and show it to your dog and say ‘Door’. When they sniff or paw at it, give them a treat immediately. With some persistence your dog will get the idea bumping the post-it note leads to yummy things.
 
The next step is to stick the note onto a door. Your dog should see the note and go to tap it to get their reward. Even if the door barely moves, give them a reward and make a great fuss.
 
To move closer to your dog actually fully opening the door, withhold the treat until your dog pushes the door harder – let them try tapping twice, opening the door farther, before you give them their biscuit. Gradually increase the amount your dog has to push the door before they get what they are after.
 
Once your dog has learnt opening, the next step is to teach closing. Allow your dog to push open the door and give them a reward. Then direct their attention to the post it note you have placed on the other side.

 
 
Dogs are great pattern learners. Repeating ‘tap post-it’, ‘walk through door’, then ‘turn and tap post-it’ should cement the idea in their mind with persistence.
 
When your dog has mastered that pattern it is time to make things a bit more difficult once again. Start to cut down the post-it, so it gets smaller and smaller, until there is nothing left of it for your dog to see at all. This will teach your dog to associate the action with the door itself rather than a square of paper.
 
Now your dog can push a door open and shut it is time for the challenge of handles. Some handles are going to be impossible for your dog to master – round knobs for example. However any kind of handle you can tie a piece of rope to that will open it with a tug such as a long metal handle are entirely conquerable.

 
 
This part of training is going to be lots of fun. Using the rope play tug of war with your pup until they see the cloth and think “I need to grab and pull”. Next it is time to tie to your door handle and encourage them to tug, helping by waving the end of the rope around if necessary. If you dog tugs even just a little reward them. Practice getting your dog to tug the rope enough for the handle to drop and open the door.
 
Once you have that down, it is time to put it all together! As with all training practice makes perfect. Repeat consistently tugging the rope, pushing the door open then pushing it shut until your dog can do it on autopilot. Pretty soon you will never have to jump out of bed early on a weekend to let them outside again! 

 
 
 

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