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going through doggie door?

Our 4.5 yr old male's name is Oscar. We recently moved from an upstairs apartment to a house with a fenced backyard and doggie door. My wife, Amanda, walked him on a leash since he was a pup. He is so used to having her to accompany him on his "pit stops", that he doesn't understand that he can go out at his leisure without her. He still notifies her and expects her to accompany him. She has to go to the back door and pretend to go out, and then he will use the doggie door. He then goes about his business and returns through the doggie door excited to see us both. How can we get him to go through the door on his own when he needs to go?
You could "rent" my Great Dane!! I recently discovered that Hilda holds open the doggie door with her head and Fanci runs through her legs to go in/out doggie door!! Sorry, just couldn't resist telling this wonderful and true story. The method that we've always used is for one of us to be on outside and the other inside, and gently push the dog through the door, letting him feel the weight of the door on the head all the way across his back...then give loads of praise each time he is gently helped through it. After initial training period, some have also waited for us to get up to stand at the door, so we started to pretend to avert our eyes and then give gobs of praise when the dog returns. Praise, not treats, work for us on door training, otherwise, you'll be getting up for the treats all the time if they associate door and treats. You'll be successful, just takes time..
We had a similar problem with the maltese that we babysit (he's 6). He had also been in apts and leash walked until late last year when both us (primary babysitters) and his owners moved into houses. It took him a while but he finally figured out to go potty in the back yard. He didn't have a doggy door though. Just be patient and do what you're doing and he will eventually figure it out. They are pretty smart but you need to work through those 4.5 yrs of other habits to make new ones. You could try one person inside and one out with the door closed. Say something like "outside" and encourage him to use the doggy door. give him praise or a treat when he does it successfully. Mommy may have to stay out with him til he figures out that he can got potty by himself.
Try using positive reinforcemet. When he uses the door to go out, (before he relieves himself) give him a favorite treat. As soon as he relieves himself, give him a treat. Try this schedule for a week, then cut out the treat when he goes out the door. Only reward him when he relieves himself and comes back in. Then slowly eliminate the treat and use just praise.

My prima donna Pearl absolutely refused to use the doggy door when all the other Malts would, so I used the above on her; she will use the doggy door now (still isn't fond of it, but will use it). Part of her problem may have been that she was being shown and was in wraps to protect her coat; she may have been afraid of catching them. She is retired from showing and is trimmed back now, but she still isn't fond of the doggy door. It just takes patience and persistence
Linda Lamoureux (Snow Angel)

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