Doggie doors are quite an ingenious invention allowing Scruffy to go in and out as he pleases. No more playing doorman for your dog in freezing temperatures waiting for your four-legged companion to do his business and no more being awoken in the wee hours of the morning by a panting, whiny dog asking to be let out. Doggie doors truly unveil a whole new world of freedom and new behaviors for your canine companion.
While many dogs learn quickly to use a dog door, a few dogs may be a bit intimidated by the moving flaps the very first times. With a little bit of coaxing and encouragement, possibly with the aid of some tasty treats, most dogs quickly catch on once they realize the freedom and independence that comes from their use. Generally, most dogs learn how to use the dog door within a couple of weeks.
If you install a dog door and your job keeps you away for many hours, your dog will feel much better knowing that he no longer needs to hold it until your return. Holding it for too long can be quite uncomfortable for your companion, not to mention unhealthy too. Once your dog learns how the dog door works, you will see an increase in his going outside behavior when he needs to potty which is a very good sign.
The behavior of going inside and out is also beneficial to your dog because he gets that entertaining mental stimulation he craves. Instead of being cooped up within four walls with not much to do, your dog may benefit from being exposed to a variety of sights, sounds, and smells from the great outdoors. Whether your dog gets to chase squirrels, lounge in the sun or watch the neighbor children play, he sure gets relief from boredom which is one of the top causes for unwanted indoor behaviors such as chewing on your coffee table, tearing up your pillows and raiding the trash can.
With more chances to go outdoors when he desires, your dog will lead a healthier lifestyle too. Outdoors, your dog may run and play which is a better option than lounging on the sofa all day. It's a fact that many pets don't get the right amount of exercise they need each day, so a dog door may help Scruffy at least get rid of some pent-up energy. Of course, access to a yard is not a substitute for walks, but it does help your dog get some fresh air and much needed exercise.
As much as dog doors provide chances for good behavior, it may also lead to some bad behaviors. Some dogs may start fence barking, others may look for ways to escape they yard, and some more may start digging up your flower beds. It's best to make sure your yard is a safe place to be and that your dog doesn't get in trouble when out there. Dog doors most likely lead to dogs being left outdoors without supervision for a good part of the day, which may lead to bad or even dangerous behaviors.
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.