Has your dog learned to open doors or cabinets and has decided that they now want to wander all over the house and try to get into any room they please? Have they gotten good at nudging open sliding glass doors, pawing open the latch to french doors, or scratching open cabinets and refrigerators to make themselves an afternoon snack?
I know the feeling.
When my dog first started opening doors, I felt like I was living in a movie! Jonas, my Labrador mix, first discovered how to open door latches when he was jumping at the door to try and get in and accidentally pulled the door latch down, popping open the door.
After that moment, Jonas was trying to get in every door in the house, pawing at them, jumping, and scratching up the paint and underlying wood in a desperate attempt to see what was behind!
Sometimes, I have no problem with this behavior, but it quickly became a big nuisance when Jonas was constantly getting in places he shouldn’t, tearing up things or getting into food or products that weren’t good for him. After that, I knew I needed to do something about it.
Why Do Dogs Want To Open Doors?
I wanted to know, why was Jonas doing this? Did he want to escape, or was he trying to get somewhere he wasn’t normally allowed?
Dogs are naturally curious just like their wolf ancestors, and like to know what is going on in the house and behind closed doors. They also enjoy being able to roam freely, so of course they want to open any doors that block them and see the wide world beyond!
In this modern world, there aren’t many things in the house to satisfy their curiosity – so often times your dog will look wherever it can to find mysteries to solve.
How To Fix This Behavior
The fastest way to nip this problem in the bud is to change the types of handles you are using on the doors: replacing them with round knobs will make it virtually impossible for your dog to open them!
For many of us, replacing the door knobs might not be a viable option, but don’t fret there is another way. Try installing a child proof locking mechanism on the door – your dog will still try to paw at it, but overtime they will learn it just doesn’t work anymore and the behavior will stop.
Another obvious way to stop this is to lock the doors to any of the rooms you do not want your dog in – they will try at first, but should quickly learn that it doesn’t work anymore.
Side Note: If your dog is opening doors, they are already showing you their intelligence! This makes them the perfect candidate for a course called Brain Training for Dogs. Contained within are mentally enriching “brain games” that are used to help stimulate your dog’s intelligence and help to curb bad behavior. Plus, they are fun for both you and your dog!
If childproof locking mechanisms will not work for you for any reason, another option for lever style door handles is to take them off and reinstall them upside down. This removes the “catch” that your dog was using to grab the handle and open the door. This won’t work in all situations though, sometimes the screws won’t fit after turning it upside down or the handle gets caught. It is a simple and cheap solution though if it works for your particular setup!
Read on for more information on tackling specific types of doors and situations!
Types of Doors That Are Most Prone To Being Open
Some doors are more prone to being opened by dogs than others, and we have found the most likely culprits.
If your door has a lever or bar handle style opener, it will make this door much easier for your dog to open. All they need to do is jump up and catch the handle with their paws, then let gravity do the rest! Once your dog figures out this trick on one door, don’t be surprised to see them try it on every door in the house!
How To Fix Dogs Opening French Doors
These types of doors are beautiful and let in a lot of light, allowing for a beautiful naturally lit room. But if you have lever style handles on these doors, which are common, it can lead to some issues where your dog is easily opening the door.
The best method here is to install a childproof locking mechanism on the door, or to change out the lever style handles for a round door knob which makes it much for difficult for your pet to get in.
What To Do About A Dog Opening Sliding Doors
Until I started doing research for this article, I had no idea that dogs were opening sliding glass doors – but this is apparently quite the problem!
Here is a video to show you what it looks like:
Little Fido just doesn’t want to be contained in the house and wants to see what the outside has going on right now. They jump at the door handle and use their weight to move it just enough so they can get their nose in between the gap and finish opening the door.
If your dog has figured this trick out and you don’t want them going out on their own, here is the best way to stop this.
First, you should definitely have a stopper in place for your sliding glass door. Cut a piece of wood, use a broom handle, shower curtain rod or something similar, to rest in the track of the sliding glass door between the wall and door. This will essentially lock the door for anyone who is outside or can’t move the stopper.
You could also try putting a screen protector on the side of the door that you are having the most problems with to prevent them from getting to the handle. A final option is to put a dog door in so they will use that instead of pawing at the handle.
How To Stop Your Dog Opening Cabinet and Refrigerator Doors
Has your dog learned to open a cabinet or refrigerator door and has been causing mayhem in the kitchen? Dogs often first learn this skill while trying to find the garbage can or has maybe figured out that yummy stuff is kept in the secret cabinets in this room. Once your dog discovers he can open one type of door, he will often try to apply this skill to every door in the house.
The first option might be to crate your dog if the problem is getting out of hand. You could also try blocking the kitchen off with a gate or something similar.
Finally, you can also install child proof locks on the refrigerator or cabinet to prevent this behavior.
Dog Proof Door Latch
Here is a cool option that is easy to install, cheap and is adjustable. This door latch opens just wide enough so that a cat can get through, but not enough to allow a dog to enter. This works to keep your dog out of the litterbox room while letting your cat in to do it’s business. This product also comes with a foam door stopper that will prevent the door from closing after it’s been open, so your cat can come and go as they please. I personally like this option because it is cheap, very easy to install and looks pretty good to me.
Finally, it might be time to do some real dog training with your buddy. Often times dogs that do these type of actions have underlying obedience issues that can’t be solved by simply putting on a childproof lock. These are behavioral problems that need to be addressed by a certified dog trainer. Finding a local accrediated dog trainer can be difficult, so we recommend trying our personal favorite online dog trainer, Doggy Dan! Click here to see our full review of the system and to discover what is inside.
Thanks for reading! We hope this article helped you in learning how to curb this annoying, and sometimes dangerous behavior. Please feel free to leave a comment below or contact us if you have any sort of comment or advice. We are always looking for more ideas on training topics to cover!