Dogs come in all shapes and sizes. Dogs, just like humans vary in their intellect. How dogs think and their evolving intelligence levels have long fascinated humans. Research has likened dogs to being intellectually on par with a 2–3-year-old child. One trick that many exceptionally clever dogs learn is the two-step process to open a door. Large service dogs may find this an easier task than smaller dogs, but training is the key!
How To Stop Dog From Opening Doors?
Significantly, the most important thing to consider implementing with your dog is training. Train your dog to respect your rules and to wait and stay when a door is open. Teaching your dog to open and close a door can be an incredibly bonding experience. Please be warned though that there is a degree of risk involved. Dogs that have been taught to open doors can escape out of the house and/or garden so be vigilant when teaching your dog this trick!
How does a dog figure out how to open doors?
Dogs can be trained to open doors. An important point to remember is that dogs can only be taught to open specific doors. Unless tethered or on a latch, a dog will be unable to open a door. You can train your dog using the following steps:
1. Tie a belt/bandana/long piece of cloth around your door handle. Using treats tell your dog to tug the pieces of cloth, saying open as he pulls. When your dog tugs the door open, reward him with a treat.
2. Keep practicing and reinforcing this good behavior with a treat whenever you say the command word ‘open.’
You can also teach your dog to close a door.
1. Put a touch stick on the door. When your dog touches or moves the touch stick or door, reward him with a treat.
2. Each time wait a little longer until he has fully closed the door and then reward him. Start using the ‘close’ command when he pushes the door. Then reward him when he follows your command.
Do all dogs know how to open doors?
Body language is important in being able to determine if your dog has the capacity to learn to open or close a door. Simple cues such as scratching the door, pacing at the door, tilting their head to the side when you come and in out of a door, and wagging their tail are all indicators that they can and want to learn.
Not all dogs can open doors.
It is a complicated trick that must be taught. Sometimes, however, a very clever dog can surprise us by copying our movements and learning to open the door themselves.
This obviously all depends on several factors:
1. If your door has a latch or lever.
2. If your dog has spent time home alone or with you to practice.
3. If your dog has a highly inquisitive nature.
A famous dog who was trained to open doors was the dog actor Lassie. The theory goes that Lassie refused to open the door in his first acting scene, pacing back and forth, until his trainer realized someone had changed the latch on the door. Once it was fixed, Lassie was ready to film his scenes and could easily open the latch.
Scientifically dog trainers and behaviorists theorize that the evolution of dogs makes them predisposed to being helpful and protective. Their pack mentality means that they want to do all they can to help, leading many incredibly resourceful dogs to learn new tricks to make their human lives easier. This has included many service dogs, large dogs, such as Labradors or Collies, and even small dogs, like wily Jack Russell’s to work out how to open and close doors as they help their owner. This can be incredibly useful when their owner may have reduced mobility or may struggle going in and out of doors.
Why does my dog keep opening the door?
If your dog keeps opening the door, be proud, you have a highly intelligent and curious furry friend. Your dog keeps trying to open the door because they are inquisitive and know there is usually something new and exciting on the other side of the door. Your dog may also open the door if you are away at work and they miss you, or if they are excited by outside noises, such as the postman, other dogs barking, and the comings and goings of visitors.
How can I get my dog to stop pushing the door open?
Does your dog have an uncanny knack for opening doors at the most inconvenient moments? Do you worry your dog will escape if he or she continues to open the door? Does your dog ignore you when you call them back?
Read on to find out how to stop your dog from opening doors.
There are many different reasons why your dog might be opening the door.
Opening a door provides good mental stimulation for a dog.
If you find your dog is bored and opening the door frequently, out of habit, introduce some new stimulation games to your dog, such as food dispensing toys, find the treats nose work game, or the shell treat game.
How to play the treats nose game:
1. Command your dog to sit and wait. Go and hide the treat in plain sight in front of him or her. Reward them when they find the treat.
2. Increase the difficulty each time you play by choosing more challenging hiding places that are out of your dog’s sight. Encourage him to sniff out the treat and then reward him when he finds it.
3. You can also increase the difficulty by hiding the treats when your dog is not in the room, by hiding multiple treats in multiple locations.
4. If your dog is showing excellent detective skills, you can go even further and hide a favorite toy, asking them to find it using the command word ‘search’ and rewarding them when they find the toy; or you can use the command word ‘sniff’, then allow your dog to sniff the treat packet before he has to go and locate the treats. Once he or she has located all treats reward him generously.
How to play the shell treat game:
1. Using three identical cups, have your dog watch you as you place a treat under one of the cups.
2. Change which cup you place the cup under each time.
3. Allow your dog to sniff and choose the cup.
4. Once your dog has become confident at simply finding the right cup, start shuffling the cups around. This will challenge and develop his problem-solving skills. Reward with a treat.
Lack of physical exercise can incite your dog to open doors.
To limit this please ensure your dog is getting sufficient exercise. All dogs should be walked, at least, three to four times a day for a minimum of fifteen minutes. This is obviously dependent on your dog’s size, breed, eating habits, and disposition. Larger dogs will need longer walks, while more energetic dogs, such as Cocker Springer Spaniels, will need to burn off their excess energy and will need a more active lifestyle.
Male dogs also have a natural inclination to roam and find a female in heat.
Working dogs such as Huskies, Labradors, and Collie’s also have a love of adventure and like to explore. Finally, the doorway to your home is exciting. Many dogs view it as the gateway for walks, for food coming into the house, and for guests and family members coming and going. Dogs will therefore have a curiosity to explore the front door and the area beyond.
To eliminate any dangers or fears you may have about your dog opening the door, open it for him, and allow him to explore the area outside your house off-leash. This freedom will stimulate him, and he can then explore his curiosity. Reward his good behavior for not running off by bringing a packet of treats outside with you. Each time he behaves well off leash he will be allowed to walk and explore further. Continue to reward him each time for his good behavior with treats.
Sometimes your dog can also view his ability to open the door and dart through it, simply as a bit of fun and a game.
He may fail to realize the dangers that the surrounding areas have for him, with cars on the road or dangerous building works, etc.
Please continue reading below to find preventative measures for your dog if you are concerned about his or her safety:
1. Dog gates can limit your dog’s access to the door, thereby preventing him from opening it. These dog gates can vary from free-standing dog gates for puppies, that can be removed later, once his or her training has finished or dog exercise pen panels that will block off certain doorways for your dog.
2. You can also easily lock certain doors or make sure the latch cannot be opened by your dog. Installing a child-proof mechanism will prevent your dog from being able to open the door.
3. Moving your door handle or lock higher on your door is also another option but can incur expense and is entirely dependent on the height, size, and dexterity of your dog.
4. You can make sure your dog is always on a leash when heading outside, but be warned, this can encourage your dog to seek greater freedom. All dogs should experience time walking off their leash because it promotes less aggressive behavior to other dogs and fosters a calm, relaxed disposition. You can organize your dog to be off-leash in your garden, in dog-friendly areas in your local dog park or dog beach.
Not all doors are accessible by dogs.
Heavy doors or doors with rounded handles can be too complicated for your dog to navigate. Some doors are more likely to be opened by your dog than others. If the door has a latch, lever, or long handle, your dog can simply jump up, catch the handle with its paws and open the door.
Below we consider the doors that are naturally opened easily by dogs:
How to stop dogs opening sliding doors:
Sliding doors are misleading and often owners understandable fail to realize they can be opened extremely easily by their dogs. All your dog must do is jump at the door handle and use its weight to move it. When there is a small gap, he or she can use either their nose or paw to slide and open the door.
Two options to eliminate this behavior is to make a door stopper for your sliding door. Cut a piece of wood to sit in the track of the sliding door, between the wall and the door. This will prevent your dog from easily sliding it open. You can also put in a screen protector or a dog gate to prevent your dog from getting access to the door.
How to stop my dog from opening French doors:
French doors are one of the easiest options for your dog if he or she wants to open a door. The simple lever-style handles on French doors mean that your dog can jump and paw at the lever and then just wait while gravity drops the lever for him.
Two options to eliminate this behavior is to either install a child-proof mechanism that locks the door more securely or by changing the handle to a round doorknob, which your dog, whatever his size, will struggle to open.
How to stop dogs opening cabinet and refrigerator doors:
Dogs are incredibly clever. Has your dog learned to open cabinet doors or the refrigerator door? Some dogs teach themselves this trick to open cabinets and the refrigerator when they are on the hunt for food, especially treats. Once your dog has learned to open other doors in the house, his natural curiosity and inclination to hunt will encourage him to try to open food cabinets and the refrigerator.
This can be easily dealt with by installing locks on the cabinets or fridge or by blocking off the kitchen with a dog gate.
Why does my dog push open the bathroom door?
If your dog pushes open the bathroom door it does so as a protective measure. Their instinct as protectors and their pack mentality means that they want to be able to see you and protect you, when you are at your most vulnerable, in the toilet. Often, they learn the trick to push open the bathroom door out of a necessity to be close to you and stay by your side. Once they have access, they will often either sit or stand in the bathroom keeping guard.
Dogs should be rewarded for their protective behavior with treats. Be patient with your dog if he or she pushes open the bathroom door, they are simply following their instincts. If you are finding your dog’s ability to push open the bathroom door too overwhelming, you can employ proper training which will ease his worries, or once again, change the lock or remove his or her ability to access the door with a dog gate.
Cost-effective ways to stop your dog’s opening doors
What to look for when buying a dog-proof door latch:
Investing in a dog-proof door latch can have a multitude of benefits. It allows your dog the freedom to roam the house but limits his or her access to certain cabinets or rooms and prevents him or her from escaping through a door.
When buying a dog-proof door latch you need to consider the following:
1. It needs to be simple and easy to use, especially when you are in a rush.
2. It can be installed quickly.
3. It needs to have safeguards so both your dogs and babies are protected from hurting themselves.
4. It needs to work on all door types so you can attach it to different doors if required.
5. It needs to be strong and durable, so it doesn’t break if pushed by larger, stronger dogs.
6. It also needs to not cause further damage or marks to your door.
7. You need a latch that will ensure the door can still be fully opened and closed.
8. It would be good to have a versatile latch that can be used on either side of your door.
Tip: A recommendation would be the Door Buddy, which is easy to install, and the lock and unlock mechanism is easy to use on the adjustable strap. The three-meter adhesive also ensures that even the strongest dog cannot push through the door.
What to look for when buying a dog-proof door handle:
It can be a nuisance when your dog keeps opening your door. Many owners feel compelled to buy a new door but don’t be too hasty, there are plenty of dog-proof handles available on the market that won’t break the bank!
When buying a dog-proof door handle you need to consider the following:
1. The shape of the door handle
Round doorknobs are much more difficult for dogs to push or open.
2. Install a locking mechanism on your door or door handle
The locking mechanism will prevent your dog from being able to open the door. Your dog will continue to try and open the door for a few more attempts but he or she will stop the behavior once they realize the door handle can no longer open the door.
3. Reinstall your lever-style door handles upside down.
Your dog will be unable to paw and push the lever if it is upside down, but this may prove bothersome to other members of the household too so consider it carefully before attempting. Also, some lever-style handles will simply not allow you to reposition them upside down.
What to look for when buying a dog-proof deadbolt:
Deadbolts can act as an additional security measure to stop your dog from opening a door and escaping. They can add protection to a house and utilize a locking mechanism that can make it difficult for little paws to push.
When buying a dog-proof deadbolt, you need to consider the following:
1. Types of deadbolt locks
A single-cylinder deadbolt uses a thumb-turn lock. It requires a key on the outside of the house. It can be efficient because it secures your home with a single twist of the knob. It also makes it virtually impossible for dogs to push open the door when the locking mechanism is engaged.
A double-cylinder deadbolt requires a key for both inside and outside. It can be a bit fiddlier because it needs a key to activate the lock.
2. Keyless locks
Keypad locks usually require a numerical code to lock and unlock the deadbolt. This will prevent your door from opening the door but can prove tedious if a family member forgets the code or is in a rush.
Smart locks use Wi-Fi networks to lock the deadbolt wirelessly. They are easy to use and prevent your dog from opening the door.
What to do when your dog scratches the door?
Your dog’s behavior can get out of control when he or she begins to scratch or destroy your door, in the hope of getting out. Be patient with your dog if you experience this. These damaging behaviors are usually due to emotional factors:
1. Separation Anxiety occurs if your dog is home alone and is anxious, unsure, and just wants to be reunited with you. They may begin scratching out of fear or worry that they are alone. Be patient and reassure your dog if he or she seems upset when you return. Reward them with a treat when they calm down and reinforce that you will always return.
Tip: Leaving the house for short periods at a time when your dog is a puppy will teach him that you always return and ease his anxiety. Always remember, however, that no dog should be left alone for more than four hours without a walk, food, or water.
2. Boredom and lack of mental stimulation or exercise can result in your dog scratching the door. Try to walk your dog before leaving the house for any period, thereby expending his or her energy. Also try to leave the house warm and comfortable, with a cozy bed, blankets, his or her favorite toys, and water and food.
Tip: If you are also feeling anxious about leaving your dog, you can invest in a dog camera or a dog walker.
3. Until a puppy is trained, they may scratch doors when they are teething or need the toilet. Again, please be patient with your dog. Training is up to the owner. If you don’t want your dog to scratch the door or go to the toilet in the house, you need to train him or her not to, with plenty of encouragement, treats, and rewards.
Tip: When your dog is a puppy always keep a packet of treats on you. Move their puppy mats closer to the door each time. When they pace at the door, to ask to go out to the toilet and don’t scratch the door, reward them with a treat.
Also, use teething bones to distract their attention if they are teething. They come in all shapes and sizes and can protect your doors, furniture, and shoes!
How to protect a door from a dog who likes to scratch?
The best way to protect a door from a dog who likes to scratch is a screen door protector. This will obviously be determined by the size of your dog, the type of door you are trying to protect, and the type of handle the door has. Variables to consider include:
1. Exterior or interior door
The screen or door protector needs to be strong enough outside to withstand the heat of the sun. Simple plastics can melt, which will damage your door further.
2. The type of door
A sliding door needs a door protector that attaches to the door with adhesive stickers (that don’t permanently mark the door) rather than one that fits over the handle.
French doors need a screen door protector that will not take the paint off the wood and will also protect the glass. The door protector should be larger, so your dog does not damage the doo when he or she is jumping.
3. The door handle and frame
The type of door handle is important, if you have a closed-loop handle you will have to attach the screen door protector with adhesive rather than attaching it to the doorknob.
Will polyurethane prevent dog scratches?
Polyurethane is used to seal and protect the wood. It is extremely hard and durable but depending on the severity and frequency of the scratching, it doesn’t always protect long term. The scratches can still be seen on the topcoat of varnish or finish and can penetrate over time to the wood below.
Tip: Oil-based polyurethane varnish and catalyzed lacquers are much more durable and scratch-resistant than shellac or nitrocellulose lacquer, and/or acrylic and polyurethane water-based varnishes or finishes.
Applying a thin layer of wax or wood filler can protect your wood from dog scratches. Wax or wood filler acts as a buffer between a dog’s claws and the wood. Industrial grade wax or wood filler can also fill in previous scratch marks.
How do you fix dog scratches on a wood door?
To fix dog scratches on your door begin by assessing the damage:
1. Light scratches can be treated by sanding down the area, cleaning the area and then reapplying varnish or paint as needed.
2. Deep scratches will require wood filler. Again, sand down the area, apply the wood filler to the gorges or groves. Allow it to dry, then clean the area and varnish or paint.
Training your dog:
Training will ensure good behavior from your dog both inside and outside the home.
Also, consider where you want your dog to be able to go in your home. If you have strict conditions, for example, the dog is not allowed upstairs, train your dog with treats to stop at the base of the stairs and sit. It would also be important to install dog gates and or latches in private areas, instead of becoming frustrated with your dog.
Lastly, be proud and reward your dog for being so clever if they can open and/or close doors.
Your dog just wants to please you and be with you.
Learning tricks such as opening doors is their way to stay close to you and to further enjoy the world around them.