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Discussion Starter #1
I have recently rescued two malamutes (4 & 1yr old) that I'm trying to teach them how to use a doggie door. They're very skittish and shy, but we've made significant headway in building trust and allowing them to get comfortable in their environment. We've been exposing them to the door by holding the flaps open and they go in and out, but they show no interest in pushing the flaps in order to walk through. Any suggestions for how to teach them to push on the flaps??
 

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Go to the other side of the flap and call them. Or stick a treat through the flap and slowly pull it through while not holding the flap open. Dog follows treat right through the door.
 

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I had the same "problem" with Misty. I put quotes around the word problem because it was really just my impatience, lol.

What we did was use a treat to coax her through the doggie door with us first holding it open. Gradually, we began holding it open less and less until it was pretty much just an eyelash of an opening so she got used to having to push slowly. It still took her a few days to get it down, but now she is in and out of that thing with confidence.
 

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You might also want to consider removing the magnet on the door if yours has one. My pups didn't like the resistance. As soon as we "loosened" it up by removing the magnetic hold, they shot right through it and haven't stopped since. I'm letting them get accustomed to that (and grow a little bit) before I gradually put them back on (there are 3 magnets).
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I want to thank everyone for your ideas. We tried them all and then some. Our dogs weren't motivated by the treats for this stuation. So we had to keep trying. We did finally find some success with an idea we came up with. We started by taking the plastic flaps off and just having the open hole for a few days. They took to using the opening as their "door" pretty quickly. They used it often and were confident in using it. After a couple days we hung a towel in front of the opening. The towel didn't hang the the whole way down so that they could see the outside. It was also soft enough to not intimidate them. The first couple times involved some guideance (holding their collars as they started through), but again, they built confidence with using it. Just yesterday we hung the towel to cover the entire opening. They weren't so sure at first, but with gentle guideance they're still going in and out. We're looking for our next progression before putting the plastic flap back up. We did put tape over the magnets (couldn't remove them) and the aluminum frame to minimize the noise, because that seemed to bother them as well. But I'm thinking something inbetween the weight of a towel and the plastic flap will be necessary to encourage them to push through.

Thanks again for your ideas and support!!
 

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Very ingenious! Some dogs are so skittish and you really figured out a great solution!
 

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That's a great idea! Kuddos to you for your ingenuity and patience. I'm sure your dogs will grow to love having a doggie door and not think twice about going through it.

I put all of the magnets back on our doors the other day. My dogs only weigh 5 and 7 pounds. The 7 pounder is very skittish and will sometimes use her paw to break the magnetic hold on the door before pushing through. Other times, when she's in a serious game of chase, she flies through it nose first without missing a beat. Since the door goes through a wall, it's an 8" deep tunnel with flaps on either end. I was afraid the tunnel would scare them, but it's turned into just another hiding place. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I thought I'd post the latest update regarding the doggie door. It seems our training progression has worked! After towel we weren't sure what to use next, so we went ahead and put the plastic flap back on, but we duct taped the towel to the flap so that it looked like it did when it was just the towel. We also put tape over the magnets so they didn't make the loud noise. The weight of the flap caused some resistance on their part at first, but now, they're going in and out without any help from us!!!

I can't believe we've finally accomplished our goal. On to our next training project, responding to the "come" command. I think this one is going to take the same kind of patience the doggie door demanded!!

Again, thanks to everyone!
 
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