Opening doors and turning off the lights: How to teach your dog

Can’t your dog get enough of learning new commands and basic commands? Then teach him how to open doors or turn off the light. With a bit of practice and patience, it works!

How annoying: You’ve just made yourself comfortable on the sofa when you notice that it’s still too bright in the room. In theory, you now have to get up and turn off the light – but you don’t feel like doing it after a hard day’s work. This is where your four-legged friend can come into play.

Switch off the light: Here’s how

Your dog doesn’t mind dashing off again to flick the light switch. But what’s the best way to learn? An efficient method is working with post-its. Ideally, your four-legged friend has already mastered the trick of touching markings with his paw or snout – for example, if you have carried out target training with him. But be careful: think carefully about whether you want your dog to be able to switch off the light because the wallpaper often suffers from the animal’s claws.

If you decide to do this, you can start with the exercises: take a post-it and position it directly under the light switch so that your dog can easily touch the piece of paper with his snout. Point to it, and praise and reward him as soon as he hits the mark with his nose. Repeat this action a few times and after a while, put the post-it a little higher. It only becomes more difficult for your dog when he can no longer get to the piece of paper without effort. In concrete terms, this means: He has to stand on his hind legs and try to get hold of the wall with his front legs.

Practice, practice, practice

Once he understands that he only gets his reward if he moves up, you can go one step further and stick the colored note directly on the light switch. Again, point to the post-it and reward your dog when he touches it. If your four-legged friend accidentally presses the button, say the respective command – for example, “Lights off!”. A generous reward is then due. Repeat the exercise repeatedly until your dog knows what to do without a post-it and just because of the command.

With this exercise, your dog will soon be able to open doors.
If you want your dog to open doors in your home, it’s best to use the “pull” command. Attach a short rope to a doorknob for your four-legged friend to put in its mouth. For example, in the beginning, you can attach your favorite toy to the loose end of the rope to motivate you. Point to the string, so your four-legged friend can put it in his mouth. When you use the “Pull!” give, he will quickly notice that the handle gives way, and the door opens with a slight pull down. He can now easily enlarge the gap with his snout and push himself through it or use the rope to pull the door open further.

If your dog is supposed to open doors that open outwards, the exercise works in a very similar way: In this case, your dog must first pull the handle down with the help of a rope so that the door opens a little. He should also quickly become aware of how the game works: As soon as the door is open a little, he can use his snout to enlarge it and quickly walk through it. And don’t forget: Give plenty of praise for every success, no matter how small your dog has in training.

Incidentally, the rope method is primarily used to protect your doors: If your four-legged friend jumped on the handle with his paws, he could damage the material of the door at some point.

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