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Training a Dog to Use a Dog House

Category Advice
Two dogs looking out the door of a wooden doghouse.
Many dogs will not just automatically move into that new dog house you set up in the yard, they may need to be coaxed. This is a guide about training a dog to use a dog house.
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By 1 found this helpful
August 30, 2011

I have an older outdoor dog. We had another outdoor dog, much younger, that for some reason started attacking our older dog. We had to get rid of the younger one. Since then, for some reason, the older dog refuses to get inside a dog house.

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There are 3 good dog houses she could use. In the winter, I put straw in them for extra warmth, etc. It breaks my heart to see her lying out in the rain, snow, sleet, whatever. Why is she doing this and how can I get her to go inside the dog house?

By Sue

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August 30, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

That's probably correct. Marking territory is one way a dog tells another dog, "you're not allowed here." Or, it's also possible the dog physically didn't allow her to go in them, and she still thinks it will come back to enforce that rule.

Either way, another "boss" can change the rule. A human can be that leader.

A dominate dog is naturally the boss of a more submissive dog. That's according to nature. When the dominate dog grew up, it became the leader of your other dog. Again, this is natural. Then for some reason, it decided to claim all the doghouses and that your dog would sleep on the ground instead, even if another doghouse was unoccupied.

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That seems stupid to humans, but it is in accordance with dog territory rules. The dog also has the right, as leader, to punish dogs who disobey the leader. This is in accordance with pack rules. Dogs consider all this normal. Of course that doesn't mean they like to be punished, and you can't really have dogs that are fighting all the time. Eventually, the older dog would have submitted to the other's leadership, but might have gotten pretty torn up in the process, and that's obviously not good.

Your dog still won't disobey the leader for fear of punishment. That's natural. But if a new leader (say a human one) were to come in and change the rule, then that would be okay. This is why the human involved must be seen as a leader to the dog.

If you bring another dog home, try to make sure the submissiveness level is generally about the same as the dog you have, and you'll have much more peace.

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August 31, 20110 found this helpful
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Consider this: take a bag of white lime (not garden lime) bought at feed and supply stores. Put the lime around the houses and in dog yard to eliminate the scent of the other dog. Bleach and clean out and outside of dog houses too.

There is one other reason I know for sure a dog won't go into a dog house over. You have a small dog house for a large dog. Build the dog house like a play house and put a couple of windows or a protected side and an open side and your dog will get in out of the rain and weather.

My neighbor had a Brittany Spaniel and she wouldn't get in out of the rain for 3 years ...dug a hole in the yard and got sick every winter. She gave me the dog 4 years ago and we have a huge dog house like I described within her run and she immediately went in without any problem. We still have her and she likes her house too. please note here her door is closed because I just bathed and clipped her and it has been too hot for her outside.

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Note: that this is nothing fancy just 4 posts on top of ground with wire around 2/3 of it and the rest is closed in. In winter I take cardboard and plastic and put hay inside and she goes in and out as she pleases.

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By 0 found this helpful
January 3, 2008

I have a question about my Sheltie/Blue. He will not go into his dog house no matter what the weather is. What can I do? I hate seeing him outside when we have cold and rain.

Nelwyn from Bunkie, LA

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January 7, 20080 found this helpful
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Hi

I agree with the others when they suggest that the dog will go into his kennel if he is uncomfortable.

However, that said, have you considered putting his treats in the kennel when he would usually be given one each time he does something good? Perhaps a nice bone to chew on when you go out, would also be an encouragement. He would also like having a few rugs &/or old jumpers that members of the family have worn, as they like to 'scrunch' them up to make a nice little 'nest' to snuggle into. I'd also make sure that his kennel is not too small for him, as well as ensuring that wind doesn't blow in that direction. You could also try putting a 'curtain' across the entrance, just nail a piece of fabric over the 'door' so that when he goes into it, he has his own little 'cubby'. The treats & rugs will certainly encourage him to enter with 'feel good' smells ... especially as he will be given the treats & bones when he's done something that pleases you ... so also remember to praise him when he enters his kennel.

My dog loves to 'do circles' scrunching his rugs into a nice little nest to snuggle into. He usually sleeps with me, but on occasion when we've been travelling, he's had to sleep in his crate, and he has no concerns about sleeping in his crate.

If these don't encourage him to use his kennel, don't worry, he is obviousely quite comfortable in the weather. I'd love to hear how you get on with the suggestions offered.

Cheers

Wendy

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By 0 found this helpful
March 13, 2017

My female German Shepherd just had her first set of puppies. Her dog house got really small so we got her a bigger one. But now she refuses to go in to the new dog house so the puppies won't go in there either. The weather has been cold so I really worried about the puppies being out in the cold.

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March 13, 20170 found this helpful

Is it big enough for you to get in it? If so, get in it and call her in and see if she will come in that way. If she does, reward her with a treat.

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March 13, 20170 found this helpful

I would put something with your scent in there.

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March 21, 20170 found this helpful

Can you put something of hers that is sentimental to her? Does she have a favorite toy? Or does she need something in particular to sleep at night?

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January 3, 20080 found this helpful

I have a 1 1/2 year old pit bull. It's getting cold outside and we built him a dog house, and he won't go in it. My husband and I are fire fighters and work 24 hr shifts so my dog is outside that whole time. The dog house is insulated and he has a bed in it with food and water. How do i get him to go in it?

Avalanche from Lisbon, WI

Answers:

Getting a Dog to Use Dog House

Put a mirror in there, maybe he's just lonely. (11/29/2007)

By perfumed fan

Getting a Dog to Use Dog House

Try hiring a dog walker, this is what I do for my two rescued Dobies.
Jennifer
Northern Virginia (11/29/2007)

By ILuvDobes

Getting a Dog to Use Dog House

I would respectfully disagree with the idea that you can make any dog an outside dog that will be comfortable where it's at. That is simply not true in all cases, but is somewhat dependent on where you live. I live in Minnesota. If you look at the indigenous animals here, one thing you will find is that they grow heavy, double coats, and shed those coats in the summer. Just because you leave a lab or a rottie outside does not mean they will end up looking like a husky eventually. Dogs were bred with different characteristics over many, many decades, and you will not change that simply by putting them in a certain environment for a few weeks or months. For example, a lab is a water dog, has a short coat that repels water as that is where it was bred to jump and get the "bird". It will not ever develop the kind of coat it needs to stay outside throughout a Minnesota winter. A pit bull has much the same coat - it is thin and does not provide weather protection for cold temps. While some individuals may do better than others, just like people have different tolerances, you still need to understand where the breed ame from and its characteristics. Is there a pit bull group/organization/reputable breeder in your area you could contact for some insight? Otherwise there are resources on the internet.

Also, some dogs are claustrophobic just like humans. I have one now who is like that. She'd been born on a farm and had the wide open spaces to roam, but then the first owner kept her in a tiny bathroom while house training her. They found their child was allergic to dogs, so returned her to the farm. But she was traumatized by the bathroom. I could never get her to go into the doghouse we made for her, either. (nor will she go into our small bathroom). We had a larger shed (almost big enough for a small, compact car to fit), which was close to the house, and made her run line long enough so we cut a dog entry hole in that, and she would go into the shed. And, as suggested in another post, we did line it with old blankets that had been ours, and had our smell. But as a bassett, doberman, lab mix, she is not one that can tolerate the outside during our winter months, and is more than happy to be an inside dog from about Oct. to April.

Dogs are pack animals, and when incorporated into a family, you become their "pack". Most would rather be with you than left alone outside for any length of time. (12/03/2007)

By iluvcats11

Getting a Dog to Use Dog House

Maybe if you heat the doghouse, he might like it better. (12/18/2007)

By Sally

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November 29, 20070 found this helpful

Could you help me figure out how to get my dog to use his dog house? He is a golden retriever, and when he is in the house, he sleeps under my coffee table. I have put his toys in there, and his dog food. Help! it is getting cold.

Rita from Missouri

Answers:

Getting a Dog to Use Dog House

If the dog is truly cold, he will use the dog house. As an owner of Rottweilers (not too much fur) some use the house, some don't. Really depends on the dog. I live in Canada and winter comes early here. Just don't leave him out too long, make sure there is food (internal heat source) and water available. Some dogs just love the 'winter'. If you are really guilt ridden, set a temperature guideline. For my dogs -10C is my limit and at that temp 20 minutes is the max. Good luck. ~PHH (11/05/2007)

By Princesshammerhead

Getting a Dog to Use Dog House

Maybe there's something about the house he doesn't like. Does it smell like paint? Is the ground damp? Maybe it's in a place where he can't get a good view of his territory. Is it dark inside the house? A dog breeder told me lots of dogs are scared of the dark. (11/05/2007)

By perfumed fan

Getting a Dog to Use Dog House

Why does he have to go out to a dog house? Any dog I ever had was a part of my family and as such, stayed in the house with us. In fact, slept in bed with us. Not that everybody has to go that far but, a dog outside in a dog house is no protection to his family in the house. I'd be lonely in a dog house wouldn't you? (11/06/2007)

By Grammie

Getting a Dog to Use Dog House

This is what we did. I gave my black lab a blanket to lay on while he was in the house. He also slept under our table. Since I placed the blanket under the table he knew that it was his and would sleep on it. After about two weeks I transfered the blanket to the dog house. When he stuck his nose in his dog house he smelled his odor and curled right up on his blanket in his dog house. I felt better knowing that our dog felt at home in his house. (11/06/2007)

By Little foot

Getting a Dog to Use Dog House

I agree with Princesshammerhead; the dog will find its way inside the dog house once he's cold.
I have a golden retriever too and I don't think your dog will stay outside too long. Retrievers are very sociable and want to be with their 'families' all the time. (11/06/2007)

By Marianka

Getting a Dog to Use Dog House

If it is getting cold...the dog is smart! Why would he want to go outside and stay in a cold dog house? Mine have a doggie door and go in and out (into a large fenced yard, of course). The coffee table area sounds right to me. (11/07/2007)

By

Getting a Dog to Use Dog House

If a dog is used to being in the house and you move him/her outside suddenly after it's gotten cold the dog will surely suffer! He needed to have time to develop a tolerance and a heavy coat. Just as you can't bring a full-time outside dog in and not expect them to be too hot you also can't move a full-time inside dog out and not expect them to be cold. What's wrong with the coffee table? (11/08/2007)

By Glenn'sMom

Getting a Dog to Use Dog House

I think a lot of you have gotten the wrong idea. My dog is an outside dog, comes in every once and a while. He likes to come in but wants to go right back out because he gets hot. I truly am good to my animals. I bought him a dog house, but he doesn't want to use it, Don't you think this is better than standing out in the rain? Thanks, Rita-Missouri (11/08/2007)

By

Getting a Dog to Use Dog House

Dogs like to be close to the family, make sure the kennel is as close to your back door as possible. Try putting something of yours in the kennel, e.g. old bedding, clothes or socks will do. Don't wash them as they will like your odor. Please let me know how you do, I may have another trick up my sleeve! (11/10/2007)

By A. Crilly

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