Opening Doors- How do I set it up


New Member
The trick: Opening a pull door either by grabbing something with mouth and pulling or by using a harness and pulling.

Because I've seen Scout pull something fairly easily, I'm thinking this might be something he could easily do that wouldn't be too hard for him. It would also be a big help for us.

He's done remarkably well at pulling things he's been attached to look easy. No, he wasn't suppose to pull in any of these situations. He was attached simply because a free hand was needed and he couldn't be free. He got motivated to pull and well the wheelchair, wagon, and sled went along nicely with him. That is what has inspired that maybe he could help with the door situation.

I am wondering what would be the best way for him to pull use his teeth or use his harness. Should Scout bite on to rough example a towel and pull using his mouth or should I take a leash around the door handle and hook to his harness and have him pull that way?

Any ideas, suggestions, advice greatly appreciated.


Experienced Member
Usually dogs find it easiest to pull open doors when something soft like a knotted towel or rope is attached to the knob or pull. They can even learn to open paddle shaped door handles. At least in training service dogs a positive reward system where you mark the behavior you want with word of voice and give a treat. I start by using a tug rope and click/treat for pulling. Every time he tugs click/treat.

Teaching some basic targeting the nose/mouth and paw will also probably be very useful. This helps direct the dog to the appropriate objects. After the dog masters a floor level pull you could stand and hold the pull item and then work toward attaching to the door.

Usually this isn't done with a harness since attaching the dog to the door would be more cumbersome than having him grab with his mouth and it's more fun to tug generally. I wouldn't use a leash since it might be hard for him to then learn not to pull on leash when walking with you. I bet most websites for service dogs that sell items for SD use may have pulls to attach to doors. Take a look and you may be able to fashion your own cheaper.


Experienced Member
My own dog, Ellie, opens her crate door and the refrigerator door. In our case, I have a length of rope or webbing attached to each door handle and she grabs it with her teeth and then moves backwards. She also removes my socks for me using the exact same principle. (She bites on to the ends of my socks and pulls herself backwards.)

It's one of those behaviours that when you teach it for one thing, it's so easily applied to a multitude of others.

You can see her open her crate in the video below, at the 1:12 marker, if that helps.


For teaching it, I literally attached the piece to the door, and then just encouraged her to sniff at it at first. When she did, I clicked and rewarded and continued, each time increasing the demand so that she was next having to touch it with her mouth, and then put it in her mouth, then hold it for a second, and so on until you get the final result.

Hope this helps.


New Member
Pulling is something that he does on a leash. It's a gray area. It's not good for him to pull but it's handy at times. Ex. he's made getting up a wheelchair ramp easier when he's pulling something that caught us by surprise and taken a stubborn child home and out of a street situation. I just don't want to hurt him as we suspect he may have been hit by a car at some point prior to coming to us. Nothing conclusive just a strong impression we (family, couple of trainers, vet tech, vet) have all been left with.

He wears a harness and if the leash is attached to the back the pull comes out of him. That's why the thought of using it that way. he's walked with a harness and leash attached to the front. No pull then. hee hee

Yes, I have checked the service dog sites and have come across a wide variety of items for this type of situation. Tennis balls, braided rope, straps, a leash that is designed to go around the door handle and be attached somehow for the dog to pull open with. That's lead to a bit of confusion. Trying to figure something that would be small enough to transport easily but large enough to work. Scout's probably a medium size.

Tugging brings out a very bulldog look in him and it has frightened those around. He has a distinctive Elvis type grin (per the local vet tech). It discourages lots of people when they see it. lol but since he's willing to tug... That might be the best way to set this up.

Of course it would be nicer if businesses wouldn't use such heavy doors to open.

Thanks for the ideas... Lots to ponder...


Experienced Member
Indeed nice businesses have auto door buttons too. I have more trouble with huge heavy doors than almost anything. My sympathies on that. If he likes tugging and it doesn't bring out unwanted behavior it might be very self rewarding for him to tug doors open. a simple carabineer bungee or soft knotted leash arrangement would be very small and quick. If you wanted something quick for public doors maybe a soft rubber covered hook. I'm trying to figure how a public door once opened would be easy to disconnect your dog from though. Unless you could just flick it loose without the danger of it coming off and hitting your dog as he pulled.

I found some S carabineers online that are very easy for me to use and might be quick. Most door pulling I think of at home though. I suppose a rope knotted at both ends could be slipped through the handle and your dog trained or handed both ends to pull then he could fetch it or you could just pull it off with a flick.