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Canine Behavior/Using the dog door


Two weeks ago we got a five-year-old Westy from rescue. He's adorable, housebroken and eager to please. We have a dog door which he will go through when someone is with him. We cannot get him to go through the dog door and stay down in the yard to use it to potty. Suggestions neededc

Two weeks is no time at all in this new relationship.  This is a fully adult dog.  It will take him months to learn to totally trust you and find his "place" in your household.  Many dogs will refuse to use a doggy door because they have not been introduced to one : properly; or, at all.  Since he does go through when someone is with him, this is encouraging.  I suggest you do two things:

Don't leave him outdoors alone (down in the yard); this by itself can be confusing and frightening for a dog that is newly a member of your family.  Also, try getting the family together (or just you, yourself, if you live alone) and sit on the other side of the doggy door once daily and have a "party".  Laugh, clap hands, sing a little song, have fat free string cheese cut into small bites in your pocket in a baggy.  WHEN (and yes, he will) the dog comes out, remain in seated position, talk in baby talk (high voice) and be very happy to see him, pass out some goodies.  Then wait for him to choose to go "down into the yard" and stay outdoors until he has done what he needs to do.  Try this for one week, use followup feature to report back.  At some point, dog should begin to use doggy door without the "party", let's see how long it takes for that to happen.

Canine Behavior

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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