Dog doors can be a great relief for people and their dogs. No more jumping up every minute to let the dog out, and dogs get the freedom to go in and out without having to ask. Our days are easier and their days are freer. Dog doors make life super easy because it is one less thing to think about. Sounds like a little slice of heaven.
It is also one less reason to engage with your dog. They can do what they want, when they want and how they want. No need to talk to us anymore because they are having a ball living life in recess. Unfortunately, too much recess is a big reason dogs develop behavioral problems like increased: independence, reactivity, barking and general loss of manners. Like kids living on the playground with no teacher present, their manners don’t typically improve.
Things to consider:
- When we aren’t observing our dog’s daily ‘deposits’ then we are not aware of their overall health. It sounds gross but knowing what our dog’s stools look like on a consistent basis keeps us better informed on their overall health.
- When we are in dialogue throughout the day then our relationship remains close. We know how frequently they are going out, what they are doing out there and are able to intervene if they are barking or rushing the fence towards others. Our awareness of our dogs is heightened which keeps us connected.
- Each outing is an opportunity to engage our dogs. We gather them, we take turns going down the stairs, through the gate and out the door. Lots of chances to practice: sit, stay, come, release, patience, eye contact, manners and listening skills.
- When we put structure into exiting the house the dogs remain calm and are far less likely to rush out barking. By the way, if they do rush out with too much energy, then call them back in again and start over until they can exit with manners. If you do that 6 times a day then their habits will change and they will be much better behaved over all. Repetition is the key to teaching good manners.
- The dog is not learning to ‘hold it’ and are in the habit of relieving themselves frequently, so if they don’t have access to a dog door then they might be forced to soil the house. The brain and body need to connect so a dog is properly housetrained, and not in the habit of soiling too frequently throughout the day.
Of course, we could rather continue sitting in our chair reading the latest thriller, and not run to let the dogs in or out every five seconds, but that isn’t always best for our dogs or our relationships with them. All things in balance, if we need to use a dog door that’s fine, but if we are around then close access to the door and maintain our awareness to our dog so our connection stays strong.