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Dr. Bruce
Dr. Bruce, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 18538
Experience:  15 years experience as a veterinarian dealing with dogs.
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We just installed a dog door and the dog refuses to use it

Customer Question

We just installed a dog door and the dog refuses to use it without an invitation each way like she feels she needs permission. How do we let her know it's ok to use it freely?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 1 year ago.

Hi. Welcome to Just Answer. My name is***** and I've been a veterinarian for 15 years. Thank you for your question. How long has this dog door been there? By refusing to use it without an invitation, you mean that she won't use it unless you are on the other side encouraging her to use it with say something like a treat? When she does use it on these occasions, does she go through it pretty easily?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No she is waiting for permission. She wants to use it but won't unless we tell her it's ok.
Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 1 year ago.

So when she does use it when you tell her it's ok, she will go out / in readily? How long has this door been in place again?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Like taking food from a plate your done with. She waits for the ok. And she would stand there and bust until she gets it. Kind of defeats the purpose of having the dog door.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
2 weeks. And yes she wants the use it
Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 1 year ago.

She sounds like a very well behaved dog. One that has manners and an understanding that I greatly appreciate in dogs! The primary purpose of the dog door is to allow her access outside to go to the bathroom correct. Has she been given the ok to go out the door numerous times and then she uses it to go to the bathroom?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
How do you show her she doesn't need permission? That it's hers?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Still there?
Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 1 year ago.

In a situation like this, maybe a good way to show her it is hers to use freely would be to leave her inside and then go outside. While outside you can have fun doing things that she would most likely like to participate in. When she hears you outside doing those things, hopefully she would take this stimulation to be motivated to go outside to participate. Then in reverse of this for getting her to want to come back inside. In all reality, she sounds like a very well behaved dog that once she knows she can go in and out the door, she will use it to go to the bathroom. She isn't the type that will have accidents in the house based on how you describe her. When she has to go bad enough, I would expect her to remember where and how she needs to use the door.

Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 1 year ago.

Sorry for the delay, I was typing and trying to think of the best way to help out. In a situation like this, maybe run an experiment and let her be in the house and see if she does go to use it when she finally really, really, really has to go. She won't hurt herself holding the urine or stools. The only thing that can go wrong is she has an accident in the house and this proves that she still needs work with to get her comfortable with it. Sometimes leaving the door completely open at times can help them to get more comfortable using it.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
We even put food she really wants just insid the door. She still stood just outside until we finally alled her.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 1 year ago.

She's got a lot of patience, that is for sure. I would be willing to bet that with more time / more hunger, she'd finally start to come in on her own. The same with going to the bathroom - when she really, really, really has to go - she most likely will use it. She sounds too dedicated and smart to have an accident in the house. I would also bet that here with more time, she really picks up on the accessibility to fun things outside / freedom to come in and out as she pleases kicks in.

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