Blog, Dec. 26, 2007 — Recently we finished turning our large roofed-over front porch into a sunroom. Over a couple of months, my husband Kelly and a helper had built side walls with windows and a place for a dog door. Today we got three sliding glass doors installed across the front, thereby blocking the usual way the dogs come and go. The dog door got fitted out with a swinging plastic flap.
To train the dogs to use the new dog door, this afternoon Kelly and I closed all the sliding glass doors while the dogs were inside. We worked with 10-year-old LarryDog first, while our 11-month-old Rottweiler, Lola, was confined in the house. With tiny morsels of meat in our hands, Kelly and I positioned ourselves on either side of the new swinging contraption. We took turns swinging the flap enough that LarryDog could see the hand with the treat, and we coaxed him through. It took about half a dozen round trips for him to get the idea. Meanwhile, Lola was whining impatiently from inside.
“I bet Lola will catch on faster,” Kelly predicted as we changed the dogs around. I agreed.
But fear is a powerful force. Where LarryDog wasn’t really bothered by the flap, Lola didn’t trust it for a minute.
We did get her to go back and forth by holding the flap up high and giving her rewards for going through that way, but we were in no real hurry. Both dogs did figure out the glass in the sliding glass doors very quickly. We supervised them around the doors till we were sure they understood. We have not yet tried the doors in their open position, with just the screens to stop a dog from going through. Later for that.
After dinner, the dogs wanted to go outside. LarryDog went confidently through the flap and I held it open enough that Lola braved it too. When they wanted to come back in, I was in the new sunroom, right by the flap but that meant I was also right by one of the three sliding glass doors. The dogs stood on the outside of that door watching my antics as I tried to coax them around the corner of the building to come in the dog door.
After a while, I tired of that and went outside with them. I walked around to the outside of the dog door, and called them. They came around to me. Larry went inside by nosing through the flap. Lola hesitated a moment and darted through after Larry. Oh brave puppy!
UPDATE A WEEK LATER: Now they come and go like they have been doing it all their lives!