About ten days ago we installed a doggie door in our back door. We wondered if the dog would ever work out how to get himself out of it, and back in again, in spite of considerable encouragement, treats, undignified pushes from behind and so on.
Well, all that wonderful hard work we did on helping him to discover that he now has an open door policy has paid off, and he trips in and out of it (I don't mean literally) without blinking an eyelid (again, don't be a literalist). Occasionally he feels he should wait for permission, but we try and avoid giving him that. He has to be his own man on this matter, and decide that when he wants to go out, he just gets on and goes.
He's had some routines in the past for going out. For instance, if we were in the lounge and he'd been in bed for a while in the other room and decided he needed a late night pee, he'd come in and stare balefully at me until I realised what he wanted. Then he'd scoot to the back door and dance around in circles until he was let out. He doesn't have this option anymore, although he did try the baleful look thing last night. I ignored it for a while but finally realised that old habits die hard and he needed me to at the very least go to the kitchen and pretend to give him permission while doing something unrelated.
We used to find he was forever wanting in and out while we were making dinner in the kitchen. I don't quite know what the reason for this was, but it was annoying continually having to open the door for him. Anyway, this issue has gone; if he wants out, he goes out. And sometimes sits at the backdoor thinking about old times when he had us on a string and we would jump to action as soon as he indicated a need.
I feel as though a little something has been lost in the relationship, but I'm sure there are compensations. The back door isn't getting scratched for one thing. The cat hasn't decided that it's a multi-animal door, so she doesn't use it (it's probably beneath her dignity anyway, though how a creature that dumps a large mouse or small rat on the doorstep should consider itself to have dignity I don't know). Consequently there's no squabbling between the cat and the dog as to whose access it is. And there's no longer the crazy rabies-infested-mad-dog-behaviour when it discovers, on our opening the door, that the cat is sitting just outside it.