You’ve sat down to tuck into dinner, Game of Thrones is on, and your dog starts whining outside, signaling he wants to come in the room. You sigh a deep breath and get up to let him in. This is a procedure that happens regularly, perhaps even daily. Whether you’re outside or in the garage, he can’t open the sliding door and it’s driving you mad. If you could just train him to open the sliding door for himself he’d be able to come and go as he pleases, and give you some well-deserved peace and quiet.
It’s also ideal for ensuring he can still get in and around the house when you’re not there. If he can open doors, he’ll have a much bigger space to roam when you’re out shopping or at work. Using his brain for this task might make it easier to teach him a range of other things too.
Training him to open a door isn’t as difficult as you might think. At the moment, he doesn’t know how, but once you’ve shown him and he’s done it a couple of times, he’ll quickly catch on. If he’s young, his brain should be ready to learn and he may be opening doors in just a few days. If he’s older or not the smartest of cookies, he might need a week or two to fully get the hang of it.
However long it takes, it’s worth investing some time into. You’ll never have to get up from your cozy slumber in the evenings again. He’ll be able to roam free across the house and outside when he’s mastered the art of the sliding door. You may find when it comes to teaching him to ‘wait’ and ‘heel’ that he’s more receptive too.
Before you get going you’ll need a few bits. Some old T-shirts or clothes will be needed to tie to the door to make a doggie handle he can pull on. You’ll also need some small brightly colored sticky notes.
Treats or some small pieces of his favorite food will also go a long way to keep him focused and eager to learn. Once you’ve got all of that you just need 10 minutes a day to commit to training and a proactive attitude.
When all of those boxes are ticked you can set to work!
My dog taught himself how to open the sliding glass door to the backyard by standing on his back legs and hooking the handle with his paw pulling on it till it opens. He figured it out on his own, now how do i go about teaching him to close the door after he let's himself back in? As I am not always immediately available to close it for him.
Hell Alec, I would tie a rope or something similar on the handle on the outside part of the door, and teach pup to close it the way you would teach a dog to open the fridge for the fetching a drink trick - where pup tugs on the rope in a certain direction to earn a treat on cue. First you would put that tugging behavior on cue, rewarding pup for any attempts, then only rewarding pup as they get the door more and more closed as they improve, until they only earn a treat when the door is closed completely. Practice with you and your cue until pup does it habitually when you are there, then stop giving the cue and simply wait for pup to guess that they should close it to get the treat you have - giving a hint by saying the cue if pup still doesn't close it after 10 second of waiting. Practice that until pup no longer needs to hint from time to time. Finally, you will either need to be there to cue pup to close it back over an extended period of time consistently, or get creative to find a way for pup to be rewarded somehow without you there when they close it - maybe invent something that drops a treat when the door shuts all the way, or use an automatic treat dispensing device and tell it to release a treat from inside when you hear the door shut each time - there may even be a device like an automatic treat dispenser that can be programmed to release a treat when it ears a noise. Either way something or someone will need to reward pup consistently for closing the door for a couple of months for pup to begin doing the behavior even without the consistent treat. Right now getting to go outside is pup's reward for opening the door. Fetch a drink trick: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZTwJ31kEHo Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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