You have a smart dog! He's learning all sorts of new tricks. One trick that takes two separate steps to learn is opening and closing a door. Keep in mind that dogs can only open certain kinds of doors; it's practically impossible for a dog to twist a doorknob. The way dogs open doors is by pulling a cloth or rope attached to a latch. When he pulls the latch, the door swings open. You can use this trick to teach your dog to let himself out, but only teach this if you have a fenced-in yard. You can use this trick for a variety of other uses, such as opening and closing the refrigerator door (pair this with "fetch a drink," Trick #46), or opening and closing a mailbox (you can teach your dog to get the newspaper or deliver a letter).
Teaching Your Dog to Open a Door
Step 1: Tie a bandana or cloth around your door. Tell him to tug it. Wait until he tugs the door open, then click and treat. Step 2: Keep doing this, eventually saying, "open" whenever he tugs the door open. Click and treat every time. Step 3: After your training session, he should be able to open the door at your command.
Teaching Your Dog to Close the Door:
Step 1: Put your touch stick on the door. Step 2: Each time he touches it and moves the door a little, click and treat. Step 3: Start waiting until he has pushed the door closed. Click and treat. Step 4: Do this until he will close the door each time. Click and treat generously when he does this! Step 5: Start saying "close" when he closes the door. After repeating the action several times, he should close the door at your command.
This command is taught to assistance dogs to help disabled persons in opening and closing doors. You can see how helpful this would be to someone wheelchair bound. For us, we don't have a specific reason such as this for Caspian to open and close doors; and since we don't have a fenced-in yard, we definitely didn't want him to be able to open the front door to let himself out. Nevertheless, we use this trick to open and close the refrigerator door, in conjunction with the "fetch a drink" command (Trick #46), which might be the perfect trick for when company comes over.
My dog is tugging and pushing, but can't open or close the door. Do you have a small dog? Obviously, smaller dogs can't open or close heavy doors. If you want to teach your small dog this trick, give him a more lightweight door such as a toy cabinet to open and close.
Tip: "Make sure you understand that while teaching your dog to open doors, he may use his newly learned trick to escape from home on a rather boring day."