Most dogs can learn to use a door in 15-30 minutes. Now if your dogs take longer do not dismay. The longest time a dog took was about 2 weeks. This was a rescued yellow lab who was very fearful. Once he learned how to use his door, he would run out his door when the owner went out the sliding glass door right next to it!
I always start by training the dog to come in the door from the outside. The inside of the home is considered the “safe zone” to your dog. This process is easier to do with 2 people but can be done with one also. Take your time and move at a speed that is comfortable for your dog.
The first few times that you call your dog through the door, HOLD the flaps completely up and out of the way. I want the dog to realize that he can now pass through the door to get inside the house. I also want him to build confidence. As he hops through this teaches him how to move through this new opening.
Using treats is a great way to lure your dog through the door and reward him. Use a high value treat like soft meat or cheese. Any hard treat just slows down the process, the dog has to stop and chew and pick up all the pieces. Cut your soft treats up into small pieces, it makes them last longer and you can feed several treats (one by one) for a “jackpot”
When the dog will come right in without hesitation, start to lower the flaps on his back as he comes in. Some dogs will react and dip down just a bit. Keep calling him in the dog door and letting the flap drag on his back. Do this until he does not care.
Then hold the flaps a little lower. He now has the confidence to come in and knows what the flap feels like on his back. Holding the flaps lower will naturally teach him to drop his head lower and come in. As he understands to drop his head, continue to gradually lower the flaps more and more. This teaches him to use his face and head to push the flaps open.
Now let him stand outside and call him to come in. If he just stands there looking a little confused, give the flaps a push outward enough to let them swing in just a bit. This will often encourage him to push the flaps open himself.
Once the training to come IN has been successful, reverse the process and teach him to go OUT. This should be a shorter process than what you just did.
Single flap to Double flap — If your dog has had a single flap dog door and you now upgrade to a double flap door, he may be confused when he feels the resistance of the second flap. Hold the flaps open and let him come through a couple of times and then lower the flaps, to help show him he can still come through the door, even with 2 flaps. Dogs usually learn this very quickly.
Panel to In-wall door — If your dog is used to a thin door (as in a panel or a single flap dog door installed in a door) and now you have an in wall door. It may take couple of minutes to show him that he can actually go through a “tunnel”. Hold the flaps up and let him figure out how to hop through and then lower the flaps and let him use his head to push them open. This is usually another quick process.