Breaking through to the other side


Big news to report: Charlie taught himself how to use the dog door.

Of course, all of this is my fault. I had let him outside, and was selfishly trying to get some computer time in. Maybe 15 minutes went by, and I heard a rustling at the back door. By the time I walked through the kitchen, I got to the landing just in time to see Charlie shoot through the doggie door. Like a rocket.

A tad disoriented, he wiggle-walked up to me, and shot a look. You know the one. The one that says, “Lady, that deserves a biscuit.”

He was right. A biscuit was discharged, immediately.

You see, this was quite a rite of passage in our household. I never had a dog door, until my dad offered to install one at my house. He had watched a Martha Stewart episode about it, and it looked easy enough to do. He enlisted the help of granddad, and they installed it in an afternoon.

This one act of kindness by dad and granddad revolutionized my life. And that of my two pups, back then.

At the time, I worked at The Detroit News. My commute was only 15 or 20 minutes, but the work hours could go long. Once Lexie and my late pup Lili mastered the door, everything was different. I could work late. I could go out for a bite to eat after work. And I didn’t have to worry about coming home to a guilt-ridden dog, and a gift in the hallway.

Lexie seemed to benefit the most. She flourished in this new-found sense of freedom. She quickly adapted to the idea that she could go into the yard whenever she wanted. To this day, she’ll often get up in the middle of the night, and wander out back for a while.

So, Charlie learned how to come in using the dog door. Learning how to exit took more work. He would stare at the door, and poke at it with his nose, making the plastic door sway to and fro. But he seemed nervous about actually jumping through.

Armed with a pocket full of puppy biscuits, I walked outside, an closed the door behind me. Then I pointed my iPhone toward the doggie door and waited. I saw Charlie’s nose poke out a couple times. The nothing. I called out his name, then Lex ran out.

“Charlieeeeeeee!” I did my best to lure him through the rectangle in the door. Finally he popped out, and he jumped up on me, looking for his treat. Well deserved!

Our hope and fear: Did we work with Charlie enough to adequately housebreak him? He was just barely starting to sit by the back door this morning when he broke on through to the other side.

Learning this skill so young clearly is a blessing and a curse. We’re happy that he can let himself out. But the question is, will he go once he’s out there? He’s been known to play in the yard for a good hour, then come inside to poop on the laundry pile. I’m guessing we’ll have to follow him outside and praise each time he lifts his leg. And we’ll need to vigilantly scan the guest bedroom and basement for special deposits.

After a sweep of the basement, it’s clear we have trouble brewing.

NEXT: Learning to love the crate.

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One thought on “Breaking through to the other side

  1. Pingback: Learning to love the crate … or not | Finding Furever

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