How to teach your dog to close doors

In this article, we will have a look at how you can teach your dog to close doors, our next article in the series “Life Tricks With Your Dog.” After your dog has learned how to open doors, we thought it would be a good idea to write this article so you can also learn your dog to close the door on command.

Imagine that you have a child in the house with you, and he’s persistent in trying to discover everything himself. A good scenario is teaching a dog that whenever he finds an open door, he closes it so the child can never get out of the house or room without the supervision of his parents, which is mandatory.

In these 4 simple steps you can teach your dog to close doors:
Step1: Teach your dog “Take” Command
Step2: Tug on door
Step3: Convince him to pull the door
Step4: Replace the command “Take” with “Close”
Step5: Daily Exercise


Keep reading for the more detailed part of the tutorial.

Training the dog to close doors

Now to give you a quick overview, we will do as our last post. We will start by teaching the dog how to close doors on command, then jump to how to make it routinely and finish by emergencies. This article, though, will have an extra practice which is combining both Opening and Closing doors and how to convince the dog to differentiate between them.

Training Philosophy

Teaching a dog to close the door is far harder than teaching him to open it, and to understand why we have to look from a dog’s point of view. Dogs are very excited to follow us everywhere, and they always want to be part of our routine. They adore sharing with us every moment of the day that Kira is lying under my legs right now as I am writing this. So, they will find it very exciting to open the door, because they understand that we open the door to go into another room where we will do something. So, it makes sense that they will open the door because they want to be with you in the same room.

What doesn’t make sense, though, is why we should close the door after we enter? It’s like closing the kennel door when we enter. It limits the dog’s freedom. That’s why teaching him to do so is harder than teaching him to open the door. You are trying to train him to do something against his nature.

Now combining those two actions (closing and opening doors) require time and patience, so please don’t expect too much from your dog in the beginning and understand that this is not his nature.

Now, let’s begin the training process

Needed Equipment

In the previous article, we didn’t need any equipment. I mentioned we could use rope if the handle is rounded or teach the dog to open the door with his paws if the handle is the normal one.

However, here, we need to keep a rope attached so that the dog can pull while he is in the room or when he goes out. So you have to have a right string attached to the handle, and a bunch of top quality treats for him so that he could do it.

Training

Now, for training, we have to follow the following steps:

  • Teach your dog “Take” Command: And this is pretty easy. You will grab the rope (before attaching it to the door) and hold it in a position like a tug of war position, tell him to take or bite enthusiastically to make him take it in his mouth, and start pulling against you. Then give him a treat and repeat.

    Ideally, it will take him a day to know the take command as it’s pretty easy.
  • TUG ON DOOR: Now attach the rope to the door and start giving him the Take command. Now the dog might be confused, and at first, he will keep wondering what to do. Make your voice as playful and energetic as possible while encouraging him to tug on the rope attached. Once he mouths it, you will give him a treat and praise him like a champion while repeating this as many times as possible until he understands that whenever you tell him “Take,” he will run and tug on the rope.

    Now, time for the challenging part.
  • Now we need to convince him to pull the door. If you have a Rottweiler or a very powerful dog, he will likely do it by himself whenever you tell him “Take” without training because they tend to show their muscles. However, for other breeds, like mine, they will need more training. What we can do is to tell him “Take” while we hold on the other end of the robe (the one attached to the handle). This will let him play a tug of war game, and whenever he starts pulling, you will give him a treat.

    Now, you have to understand that this will take time and a lot of effort. You have to repeat this and stop treating him if he didn’t start pulling, we are trying to tell him that only pulling is acceptable. Remember, don’t hold the rope tightly; we need him to move the door. While playing this tug of war game, change the keyword “Take” to “Close” or “Pull” and try to say it very enthusiastically to make him pull harder. Repeat this for a week, at least.
  • Now, tell him the keyword “Close”. Do it without playing tug with him. Again, he will look confused and will mouth the rope but only give him a treat if he held it in his mouth or started pulling (even slightly) and bit by bit remove the treats if he pulled weakly to convince him that treats are only for strong pulls.
  • Daily exercise. Once the dog pulls the whole way back to the end, don’t give him treats anymore except if he closed the door completely and practice daily to achieve the best possible results.

I know it’s not so easy, and it took Kira months to conquer it, but it’s worth it. The above training works if you want the dog to close the door from outside after going out of the room. If you want him to close the door from inside, just lure him into pushing the door by using his weight and repeating the same process.

Here I have found a youtube video to show you how you can teach your dog to open and close doors.



Make Closing the Door a Habit for your dog

As we said in the previous article, attaching every action to a purpose is the key to the best training.

Think of a scenario where you want the dog always to close the door, for example, in the child’s room, and then shape this together (You might need another scenario, and it depends on your situation but 99% the procedures will be the same):

Now, when we are preparing to make it a habit, we have to think of three things:

  • Main Objective
  • How to achieve it
  • Afterward

Main Objective

In our case, it’s teaching the dog to close the door of the children’s room whenever they are inside.

How to achieve it

Achieving it is easy. What you need to do is whenever your children are going to bed, just tell the dog the command “Close” or “Pull.”

Now, remember, repetition is vital. If you don’t repeat this every time the children go to bed, you will not make it a habit. You never need to miss any opportunity to tell him to close the door, if you observed and made sure that your dog closes the door EVERY TIME, then he will acquire it as a habit in 2 or 3 weeks. Remember to give him treats every time.

Afterward

What I mean by afterward is what should the dog when he finally closes the door. Should he return to you? Or Sleep with the children in their room? Or start roaming alone? Thinking about that as well is quite mandatory. Shape the way you want the dog to behave and start training him according to that way.

Preparing for emergencies

Now, there are not a lot of emergencies where you want the dog actually close the doors. However, let’s imagine that you want the dog to immediately jump inside the children’s room and close their door when he thinks there’s a burglary or a stranger in the house (although it’s not a sincere emergency, I am just giving an example to demonstrate on it).

Now, what we need to do is grab a stranger and let him in the house. Once this happens, quickly tell the dog to go inside the room and close it. This happens with luring. You grab a chicken and tell him to come, then lure him inside the room and give him the close command (if you trained him to close the door from inside the room) and repeat it every day. Every time you have to move faster.

Now, I repeat, there’s not a kind of emergency where you want the dog to close the door, I just gave an example so that you can know how the training works and apply it to your situation.

Combining opening and closing doors

I won’t go back to teaching your dog how to open the doors. In the previous article, we have covered in-depth on how to teach your dog to open doors, and if you haven’t already seen it, make sure to take a quick look at it.

However, combining both isn’t hard at all. It requires repetition (as with anything). Tell him to open the door when you walk in and to close the door when you enter together (depending on how you trained the dog to close doors, from inside or outside or both)

Conclusion

Training a dog to open or close doors is a beautiful trick that is helpful. It increases the bond between both of you and makes you understand each other more. It also makes him participate in every moment of your day, which makes him extremely happy. You can shape the habits and emergencies of your dogs, whatever you want.

Make sure to tell us in the comments about your best life tricks or if you want a specific life trick that we can cover in the next article!

Have a great day!

Author: Soheir Maher

Hi, I am Soheir. I have always been passionate about dogs. My first dog was Leo who was a wonderful Golden Retriever after that I got Kira another Golden Retriever who is wonderful too.My passion for dogs made me read a lot about them. Training them personally made me become an expert in everything related to them, that's why my writing is always a mix of experience and science. My writing about dogs isn't for the sake of earning a living but instead, for the sake of benefiting people around the world.