So this past weekend, Handy Chris installed a dog door in our back door. We thought it would be a welcome change for the dogs, given that their previous method of being let in and out was to either a) bark loud enough until someone heard or b) bang on the aluminum door until it broke. With a dog door, there was the freedom of coming and going as they like. They’d be free range dogs.
When Chris first cut the hole in the door and before he hung the actual dog door, they loved it. They jumped in and out, back and forth, until Molly threw up on the back porch. It was doggie-palooza at our house. And then Chris put the dog door up and the fun stopped instantly. The door is just a heavy plastic flap, but to the dogs it was the iron gate at Fort Knox. They both just sat down in front of it, staring. You could literally hear them thinking.
Lucy: There must be a way to get through that magic door.
Molly: (crickets, crickets, crickets) Oh, a butterfly…
Lucy did eventually get the idea. But the first few tries she hurled herself with uncanny strength through the door. I guess she thought she had to break down the wall. She was like a giant chihuahua rocket. She’d come sailing through the flap, legs spread out in front of her, ears flapping in the wind, and she’d land about half way into the kitchen.
That left poor stupid Molly. Molly just could not understand. She spent the first half hour shoving her giant paw through the door and then running away. Finally, she got the courage to stand there, but she continued to paw the flap for hours. We tried coaxing her through with treats, hot dogs, toys, Lucy – nothing helped. She was terrified of the flap. She eventually gave up and just laid down outside by the door, waiting for someone to let her in.
After a few days have passed, it has improved, but not much. Lucy has figured out that she can use the door at her will, but she still prefers to bark (shocker…). So, she stands at the back door barking for a minute, then looks around and when she sees no one is coming to get her, she sighs dramatically and walks through the door herself. And then there’s poor Molly. Molly’s method is a bit more…unorthodox. She paws at the flap until she gets it swinging pretty good and then she dives in, trying not to let the flap “trap” her. This usually involves paws flying, sliding into the wall (and one time, sliding into Lucy, but that didn’t end well for Molly), eyes wide with terror. I feel bad for her, but I’m trying not to help her out all that much so that she can learn. Sometimes though when I hear her pawing that flap, I go stand on the other side of the door and call her name. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it just makes her scared – “That flap ate my mom!”
I’m sure it will get easier for them, but for now it makes for an entertaining evening.