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How to Convince a Timid Dog to Use its Doggy Door in 4 Simple Steps

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Most dogs will bound through a doggy door the moment it is installed, but others leave owners puzzled and frustrated by refusing to entertain the idea for a second. In fact, your dog may seem scared to go through the door, especially if they already possess something of a timid streak. However, you should be able to convince them that this new door really is a fantastic addition to their lives by following the tips listed below.

1. Never Force Things

Dogs aren't very good at learning anything when they're anxious, especially when the lesson has to do with confronting a task that they already find unnerving. For this reason, as well as simply to keep your pooch happy, it's vital that you never push your dog through the door, push them towards it, or pull them through it, even if you're gentle. This will make your dog feel more uncomfortable than ever, and is unlikely to make the situation better.

2. Take Baby Steps

If your dog is a little timid about this odd new contraption, try to take things slowly. Start by either removing the flap or taping it up to show you dog that there really is a gap for them to get through. You can then go outside and sit in their line of sight. They might just come running straight away, but it's possible that they could just stick their head through. Again, don't force things. Reward them, then start again later.

3. Leave the Main Door Open

One reason a dog might not want to use a doggy door is that they see it as cheating, even if you're offering encouragement. You might have seen videos online of dogs standing right in front of an open door and not understanding that they can go outside. This is often because they have been taught not to leave the home without permission. Opening up your main door while the doggy door training is going down could make them more receptive to the idea that going through is going to prove perfectly dandy.  

4. Enlist a Canine Volunteer

It's always a little easier to do something that you find frightening if you see someone else do it first, and the same is true for dogs. If your dog is familiar with any others, see if those others use a doggy door, then invite them round to join in the training. It's likely that they'll use your doggy door without an issue—especially if you provide a tasty incentive—and this can help teach your own dog that their new door is a treat instead of a punishment.

It's natural for some dogs to be a little wary of changes to their environment, and going through a doggy door can actually be a lot more nerve-wracking than it would seem at first thought. However, using the steps above alongside plenty of treats should get your canine pal used to this new feature in no time.