Top 3 Reasons Why Your Pet Isn't Using Your Pet Door

dog using a dog door after receiving proper training

A pet door can be the perfect solution for busy pet owners and active pets. When pets are able to let themselves out, a range of issues are solved. The result is more independence for both the pet and the owner. Some of the benefits of pet doors include:

  1. No longer having to schedule and plan around letting the pet out
  2. No more sudden wake-ups in the middle of the night
  3. Fewer messes to clean up in the home
  4. More freedom and more exercise for pets

While all these benefits are great, door training for dogs comes easily to some pets, but is a little harder for others. Pet door problems and lack of use can happen for a variety of reasons. Make sure that you choose the right pet door for you and your pet. Here are some of the most common problems people run into:

Your Pet is Afraid of It

Teaching a timid dog to use dog door is a little tricky. Some animals simply fear the unfamiliar, even if it ultimately improves their quality of life. A new pet door can be confusing to your pet and cause them to shy away or avoid it. If they aren't used to going outdoors without you, they may hesitate to do so on their own. You can minimize the fear response by praising them whenever they go near the door. Use lots of positive reinforcement, and avoid making using the pet door a stressful experience. Teaching a dog the doggie door isn't a scary or threatening addition is crucial for encouraging them through. Check out our post on training your pet to use a pet door for tips, advice and recommendations. Wondering how to train a cat to use a pet door? The process is very similar to dogs, remember to be patient and give lots of positive rewards when they walk through. Timid cats might benefit from a couple treats on the other end as an incentive. Wondering how to doggy door train a dog and cat at the same time? For some doors you can remove a couple magnets to make them easier to push through. This can help train cats who will be sharing a larger dog door with your pup.

A dog struggling to use a dog door that is not the right size

The Door Is Too Small

If you miscalculate the ideal pet door size for your pet, the result may be a door your pet cannot fit through or one that is just too snug for your pet to feel comfortable using. If this is a case, you might follow steps on how to teach dog to use doggy door to a T and still run into issues. When buying a pet door, make sure to accurately measure your pet's width and height, and then buy a door that's a bit larger in each direction. Allow your pets some breathing room; if the fit is too snug, they're more likely to be hesitant about using it. See our tips on measuring your pet in order to get the correct sizing for your pet door. In the end getting the right size door will save you money and time.

Improper Training

A dog waiting for a treat while being trained.

Pets that weren't properly trained to use a pet door may develop negative associations that result in pet door problems. Improper dog door training makes it very difficult for you and your dog in the long run, so putting in the time to train dog to use dog door is crucial. The ideal way to train your pet to use a pet door involves these basic steps and ideas:

  • Go outside and encourage the pet to come through the door and join you.
  • Use positive reinforcement; give your pets a treat and lots of attention when they use the door successfully.
  • Use short training sessions of 10 to 15 minutes per day; don't overwhelm them.
  • If they resist using the door, prop the door flap open during training or remove it completely at first to show your pet the outside or what is on the other side of the door.
  • If you will be installing multiple pet doors, buy and install the same type of door in all locations to promote consistency. This will help your pet recognize all your pet doors and not have to differentiate.

A pet door can bring enjoyment and independence to both you and your pet. We hope this helped you learn how to teach a dog to go through a dog door! Avoid pet door problems by following the basic tips provided above and visit for more information.

1 comment

  • My 16 week old puppy loves to RUN in and out the doggie door. She does it all day long. However, she will not use it to go out and do her business! She (sometimes) goes to the patio door or I have to remember to take her out.
    Can you give me some suggestions?


    P.s. she is a Lhasa Apso

    Donna Hubach

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