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How to Train Your Dog to Use a Doghouse: 4 Expert Tips

Rachel Giordano

By Rachel Giordano

siberian husky outside doghouse

Dogs are intelligent creatures that are capable of learning many tricks and commands. Teaching your dog new things can be fun, and most dogs are excited to learn. However, some dog owners may mistakenly believe dogs are naturally drawn to certain objects and instinctively know how to use them, such as a doghouse. In reality, dogs need to be trained to use a doghouse. Sometimes, a dog may retreat into a doghouse in inclement weather, but there’s no guarantee.

If you have a doghouse and your dog is not using it, you’re in the right place. In this post, we’ll list four expert tips on how to train your dog to use a doghouse.

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Before You Begin

If you have yet to purchase a doghouse, ensure you buy the correct size for your dog according to breed and age. For example, if your dog is an adult and a large breed, ensure your dog has ample room to enter the doghouse and move around comfortably. Otherwise, your dog will likely have no interest in trying the doghouse out. It’s also wise to practice training sessions when the weather is favorable, such as rain or cooler weather.

Puppies may be easier to train than adults, especially if you have an adult rescue with a troubled past—the goal here is to gain your dog’s trust that the doghouse is not harmful and a good thing! Puppies may take a little longer due to their shorter attention spans, but staying consistent with 15-minute sessions spread throughout the day for 5 minutes each will be beneficial.

Never force your dog to go inside or shove him in—this will only frighten your dog and make him scared of both you and the doghouse.

It takes time and patience to train, regardless of age, but if you stay the course, your dog will use the doghouse eventually. Now, let’s check out methods to train your dog to use a doghouse.

two short hair chihuahua dogs sitting in front of two wooden dog houses with dog food bowls
Photo Credit: Phuttharak, Shutterstock

The 4 Tips on How to Train Your Dog to Use a Doghouse

1. Use Food as a Lure

Treats are an excellent motivator when training dogs, and it works training a dog to use a doghouse as well. Most dogs will be unsure of the doghouse because they have no idea what’s inside. To them, they may only see a dark and scary opening, and it’s our job to show them the doghouse is not harmful.

Try placing your dog’s favorite treats inside and let him see you do it. If he shows no interest or is hesitant, let him see you placing the treats inside.

If he still does not go in, try placing treats at the opening of the doghouse or the doorstep. Once your dog eats the treats, put a few more inside once more for good measure. Try this a few times a day until your dog goes inside to get the treats, and then praise, praise, praise when he does! If he does go inside, stay with him to show it’s safe.

2. Play Hide-and-Seek

Playing hide-and-seek can be a fun way to teach your dog to use the doghouse, especially if your dog particularly loves the game. For this method, you’ll need your doggie’s favorite toy. If your dog fancies a ball, try playing a game of fetch for a minute or two. Once your dog is fully involved in the game, throw or place the ball inside the doghouse. Your dog may retreat inside to fetch the ball without thinking, and if he does, praise him. However, some dogs may still be hesitant to enter, even if their favorite toy is inside. Remember not to force the issue but rather grab the ball and try again.

It may seem like your dog will never go inside the doghouse to retrieve his favorite toy, and if this happens, don’t fret—remember that patience is required to get your dog comfortable. You can try placing the toy near or even next to the doghouse to get your dog acclimated to it even being there. Over time, your dog will likely get used to the doghouse’s presence and eventually not think twice about retrieving his favorite toy.

cute dog guarding his toy laying in his own little house
Photo Credit: Kenneth Frost Lie, Shutterstock

3. Comfort Is Key

The doghouse should be comfortable, cozy, and inviting. Try placing his favorite bedding or blanket inside the doghouse and any other item familiar to your dog, such as an old shoe he likes to chew on or a t-shirt with your scent.

If you live in a cold climate, ensure the doghouse is insulated well for warmth. After all, your dog will have no interest in shivering inside the doghouse when he knows he can be much comfier inside the home. Ensure the doghouse is raised off the ground by placing it on an old pallet or bricks—whatever you use, ensure it is stable and sturdy to hold the doghouse. You can buy an insulated doghouse as well.

4. Change the Location

When all else fails, try moving the doghouse to a new location. Dogs love to be close to their humans, and one mistake you might have already made is the location of the doghouse. Your dog will likely have no interest if the doghouse is far away in the corner of your yard. You can try placing the doghouse against the house so your dog will feel closer to you while inside.

If the doghouse is far away from the home, your dog may feel as though he’s being punished. He may also feel threatened and filled with anxiety being surrounded by unfamiliar sights and smells in the yard. Try placing the doghouse in an area of your yard where your dog frequents the most.

dog watching out near his doghouse
Photo Credit: Mykola Komarovskyy, Shutterstock

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Having a doghouse can be extremely beneficial in the case where your dog is left outside, it starts raining, and you’re not home at the time to let him inside. The doghouse will provide shelter until you can get your dog inside. Doghouses are also beneficial in giving your dog his own space to chill in.

Some dogs may take to a doghouse more quickly than others, and it takes time and patience. Remember to never force your dog to use the house, and gently encourage him to use it by implementing the methods mentioned above. In time, your dog will use the doghouse and be happy inside.

Featured Image Credit: Bkatei, Shutterstock

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