How to Teach Your Dog to Open The Door

There is nothing as exciting as having a dog that can help you with your life. Having such a relationship where the dog is adorable, helpful, and understand what you need is beautiful. Perhaps you have always been amazed by show dogs who do amazing tricks. Sometimes you think you can never train your dog to do the same, but the truth is that you can teach your dog to do anything at any time! But how can we do so? I want to help you teach your dog some cool and helpful tricks. In this article, I will help you to teach your dog to open the door.

“Teaching a dog to open doors can be quite useful in emergencies, and it doesn’t require much experience to do so. Just lure the dog to the door and treat him every time he touches the handle, and he will learn to open the doors himself.”

I am fortunate that my dog was such an escape artist from the first day I got her, and unfortunately, I never had a kennel. So, she was with me in my room. Whenever I wanted to go out of the room without her, I had to close the door. But days went fast, and she was so tall that she started jumping on the door and grabbing the handle to open it. Just then, I understood that she had the potential to do such amazing things. So instead of her doing it randomly, I started training her and redirecting (I will discuss the training in detail in a moment) to open the door for me whenever I ask her to do so. By the way, after doing so, she became smarter that she understood how to open the car window, the TV from the button, and the fridge door.

How to Teach Your Dog to Open The Door

I don’t have to mention that you make sure your dog can reach the door’s handle before training him to do so.

Teaching a dog to do this trick is more comfortable than teaching him to close the door actually and as I said a lot of dogs could do it naturally, but we need to put some limits and shape the way of doing this (so to make sure that this trick won’t turn into a nightmare instead of something helpful)

Make sure to grab delicious treats and let’s start the training:

  1. Start luring your dog towards the door: Grab the treat, put in front your dog’s nose, then start putting up on the door to make him jump on it. Give it to him once he jumps.
  2. Touch handle first: Now, do the same as the previous step but give him a treat when he touches the handle now with his paw or mouth.
  3. Associate the verbal cue: Just put the word open before jumping and give him a treat. That will make the dog do a jump on the door whenever you say open. Now comes the tricky part, which is to open the door.
  4. Make pressure on the handle: Now start luring as before but give him a treat only if he puts some pressure on the handle (not only touched it).
  5. Lure him on the door’s handle itself: Now try to make put him in a position where he puts all his weight on the handle to open it by mistake. You can achieve this by placing the treat on the handle or behind it to make him jump on it. This training may take time and frustration but be patient.

Note: If your handle doesn’t go up or down like mine and you have a handle that rotates, you can attach a string to it and repeat the training but make the dog tug on it instead of touching the handle with his paw.

Now, whatever happens, don’t take your dog’s paw by your hand and open the door with it, then give him a treat, it never works that way.

Corrections

Now, when your dog first learns how to open the door, he will keep doing it over and over. So, you have to limit him and tell him to do it only if you allowed him to do so. Otherwise, he must respect that you don’t want the door opened.

To do so, you must always tell him No if he ever tried to jump on the door without permission. Never let it pass because it may get worse.

Emergency Training

Now, let me remind you, you can’t jump right into this type of training after you finish the initial training. You have to wait for 3-4 months until you’re sure that your dog understands all the rules and will be able to differentiate between emergency and normal conditions professionally.

Shape the scenario when you want your dog to open the door without any permission. You have to train the dog according to that scenario.

For example, I will explain in detail how to teach your dog to open the doors automatically in case of fire. We will carry out the following steps:

  1. Figure out the scenario: Do you want your dog to open a specific door during an emergency or all the doors? 
    You have to figure out the exact response you want from your dog during an emergency. Then you will train your dog on that scenario (you can prepare your dog on more than one scenario, that’s fine).
  2. Get him used to fire alarms: If you have a fire alarm, you can open that sound on your phone then tell your dog to open the doors immediately and give him a treat. 
    Repeat this daily until the dog automatically open the door when he hears a fire alarm.
  3. Use smoke: Another thing is to get him used to the smell of smoke when he smells it, he opens the doors automatically (same as above)
  4. Make him wait beside the door: You have to use all your family members in this step. This step aims that your dog opens the door, and keep holding it with his body until you all pass and runs to the next door. 
    You can do this by giving him the door command and luring him to stand next to the door and giving him a stay command until you all pass then a treat. Repeat this step a couple of times until this becomes part of his routine, to open the door, hold it with his body until you pass and then run to the next one.
  5. Test him: After finishing the training, select a random day and maybe use a speaker to make the fire alarm sound real and start following your dog to see his response. If he failed, you have to repeat the training process.

You should have, after that, a dog that is ready to save your life in case of emergencies. I don’t have a fire alarm in my house, so I trained my dog to bark excessively if she smelt any smoke to wake everybody up and open the front door for us to make us safe.

Precautions to Consider Before Teaching a Dog to Open Doors

Unfortunately, besides the advantages of such training, you will have a lot of disadvantages in the three months that follow the practice, so here are some precautions to take into consideration:

  • Lock the front door and the front gate when you’re not home: if your dog is too hyper when you leave him and he knows how to open any door, he will probably follow you to work running. So it’s best to lock the front door for the first three months until you make sure that he is responsible enough not to open risky doors. Also, that will help keep him safe if he likes running after other dogs/cats/squirrels.
  • Cover the doors with any plastic: Unfortunately, the dog may miss the handle when he tries to open the door that he may scratch it (ALL MY DOORS ARE DAMAGED!), so I advise to cover it with something to keep it safe.

Now, let’s make this trick a life-saver trick.

Why is it Advisable to Teach Your Dog Life-Tricks?

Teaching your dog some life-tricks has a lot of advantages, some of them are:

  • It’s fun: There is nothing funnier than seeing a dog acting like a human or helping a human. When you teach your dog new tricks, it will bring loads of fun on your both lives, making you enjoy every moment of it together.
  • It increases the bond between both of you: Every training is a way to strengthen the relationship between you and your dog. Both of you understand each other better, and the dog gets to know how you want him to behave. It is an excellent opportunity to increase your friendship by taking it into another level.
  • It makes you a better trainer: I understand how challenging it might sound at the beginning to teach your dog to do the trick. Some of you may even say that it took them forever to finish the obedience training, and it would be so hard to dive into such a type of training. 

    While this is challenging, I think it’s one of the most beautiful things you’ll ever encounter. This training type will push your limits and make you think and figure out how to achieve harder objectives with your dog without stressing your dog or yourself.
  • It helps in redirecting the dog’s energy: If you asked any dog breeder, trainer, an experienced owner, or any person involved with dogs, “How to tire my dog?”, there will always be one robust response, “give him something to do!”

    Dogs were bred to work with humans and help them. Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Dalmatians, & many more have a distinguished history of helping people. They were bred to be energetic to help with repetitive and challenging tasks that people couldn’t do easily, like going inside the water and grabbing the birds that people hunt.

    Nowadays, we don’t work in fields anymore (not all of us I mean) and we don’t have that kind of hard work that we require a dog with very high energy to do. We are living in comfy houses with ACs in summer that cools the weather and makes it always feel beautiful, and dogs still have the same amount of energy that they ever had, and we don’t have enough time to tire them. 

    So a good alternative is to teach them how to work with us in the house, to pick up any clothes on the ground, to close the doors, to grab us the remote, etc. 

    By doing so, we will be able to keep them stimulated all the time and ready to help so that they won’t need a lot of exercise as before.
  • It’s beneficial: After all, teaching your dog to do some work will help you (even a little) and may also have a significant impact on your lives. 

    For example (and that’s a true story by the way): When I told Mr. Erwin that Kira could open the doors, he was so excited and explained that this is an excellent idea. When I asked about the reasons, he told me that as a father (whose children are still young), he will find that helpful if a dog will close all doors after them so he will be sure that no harm will ever happen to them, It will also be great if a dog can open the doors in case of emergency. 

    You can teach your dog to respond to any emergency (more onto that later), and you will then appreciate this Life-tricks training.
  • It increases the dog’s IQ dramatically: The more tricks your dogs know, the more comfortable he will learn more. I can say that now Kira takes 2-4 days to master any new trick not because I am a good trainer, but that’s because she understood the training concept and became so smart that she is ready to do more things.

I think there are a lot of advantages that accompany teaching dog life tricks. It’s not a must, but I believe it’s advisable to do so.

Conclusion

Teaching a dog a life-trick is one of the most exciting things you can ever do to your dog. I think this is far funnier than obedience training. It makes you connected with your dog and appreciate his existence in your life.

We thought it is best to write about training your dog to open doors in this article and leaving how to close doors to the next one, so stay tuned!

Have you ever wondered about wiry coats? Maybe you can check this amazing article here.

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.