How to Teach Dogs to Open French Doors

by Mary Lougee
    "Hey, how did you get out?"

    "Hey, how did you get out?"

    Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

    Teaching your dog to open doors for you can be very helpful when you have your hands full and can’t open them yourself. French doors have lever-type handles that press down to open the doors and are the easiest type of doorknobs for canines to maneuver. You can amaze your family and friends with this trick by asking your fur ball if he wants outside and telling him to open the door himself.

    Step 1

    Place several tasty, fragrant dog treats in a treat pouch or a fanny pack. Clip the pouch or fanny pack around your waist and open the top for easy accessibility.

    Step 2

    Put a 1/2-inch sticky note flag on the tip of your forefinger to serve as a target. Call your pooch over to you and put the flag in front of him close to his nose. As soon as he sniffs or touches the target, give him praise and a dog treat. Practice teaching him to touch the target several times in short sessions.

    Step 3

    Hold a sticky note on your finger above your dog’s head at about the height of your French door handle. Tell him “stand up” and reward him for standing up and touching it. Practice this command until he has it down pat. He may start standing on his own for treats when he realizes this behavior comes with rewards.

    Step 4

    Place a sticky note flag on the tip of a French door handle. Arm yourself with treats and call your dog to the door. Tell him “stand up” and show him the target on the door handle. When he stands up near the door, take one of his paws, touch it to the target on the top of the door handle and push his paw down. Reward him with a treat and say “open door.” After he learns this trick and pushes the door handle down himself, place one hand on each side of his body and direct him backwards a step or two to open the door.

    Step 5

    Give your pooch lots of affection and treats for learning to open the door. Keep practicing this trick while removing the target from the door handle and phasing out treats for rewards, replacing them with praise and petting instead.

    Items You Will Need

    • 1/2-inch sticky note flags
    • Dog treats
    • Treat pouch
    • Towel (optional)


    • If your dog is too short to reach the door handles with his paws, tie a towel tightly to the end of the handle and teach him to pull it downward and back up a few steps to open the door.
    • Teaching your dog to open a French door to his backyard has extra rewards for him, as he can go outside and play with you when he accomplishes this trick.


    • If your French doors lead outside, you will need to lock them when you are not in the vicinity. This will prevent your four-legged friend from escaping outside when you are not watching him.
    • Toy breeds may not have enough strength to open a French door.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Mary Lougee has been writing since 2004 and specializes in pets with publications in "Modern Dog" and "Pet Planet." Lougee gained extensive pet knowledge and expertise in care and rehabilitation, built a farm, and cares for rescue animals from small to large. She holds a bachelor's degree in management.

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