Training Your Pet To Use A Pet Door | Tips and Tricks

So you have your door now let's get them using it!

How to train your Pet to use a Doggie Door | Treat Motivated Pet Training

Generally, pets are so happy to be able to go outside that training is a breeze. However, a timid dog doesn't know what a dog door flap is at first, so they will need to be shown how it works. Here are some tips on how to make sure your pet can go through their door easily and safely. House training a dog to use the pet door is kinda like how you might potty train a new puppy! Repetition and positive reinforcement. Get to training your furry family member to use their very own door!


Right Size Matters

There is nothing more dreadful as getting stuck somewhere you don't want to be. For your pooch, getting stuck in the pet door could ruin their pet door experience permanently. In order to make sure your pet will properly fit, take necessary precautions when ordering and installing your pet door. Make sure you have read the product description, and that your choice in dog or cat doors fits with the breed of your pet. Make sure to get a small doggy door for a small dog, and a big door for a big, adult dog. See our measurement guide for tips on choosing the right size.

Dog Training Sessions 

  •  Limit training sessions to 10 minutes. If your pet does not succeed the first time then schedule higher intervals of sessions throughout the week. Try not to overdo the number of sessions in a day, two well spaced out in one day should be the maximum.

  • Hold the flap open all the way at first; then less and less so they gradually get the idea of pushing against it to get to the treat (food is an excellent motivator for most dogs).

Hold the flap open to train your how how to use a hound door | Use training treats

  • Patience is a virtue: Practice makes perfect, and for some pets it takes a lot of practice before they get used to using it. Be patient, do not push or shove them through the door. The first step is to slowly introduce them to the doggie door. Call your pet over to the pet door and slowly open and close the flap so the pet knows what the pet door does. While you hold it open let your pet peer through the hole and let it realize that it leads outdoors.
  • If your pet does not venture through the hole, try coaxing them through with a treat or toy at the other end. Also, try not letting your pet use the real door for further training enforcement. Don’t scold your pet if they do not take to the door right away, it will only lead your pet to have negative emotions about the pet door. Positive reinforcement is key!

How to teach your cat to use their door:

Typically, most cat doors with a flap will not be made of flexible vinyl. Instead, it is hard acrylic. Training a cat will be a little different than how to train the dog to use a pet door and to help familiarize your cat to their new door, you can follow these points:

  • Introduce your cat to the product by putting your hand through so they know how it works
  • Some cat doors will make a noise when they open/close, this can scare skittish cats, we recommend manually shutting it slowly so your cat can get used to the noise
  • Use favorite treats or favorite toy to lure them through- while keeping the flap open so they know how easy it is
  • Reward your kitty with praise (and maybe another treat) when they make a pass through
  • When your cat is more comfortable, start lowering the flap on them as they step through
  • When training pet door should be at a comfortable height- meaning raise the door enough so it resembles how high it will be once installed


Remember, training can take a considerable amount of time; there is no standard practice as every pet is unique. Try to make this training fun!

Magnet Adjustments

  • If your pet door has a moveable threshold at the bottom where it seals, then taping down that threshold will significantly reduce the magnet strength and make the flap easier to push. Dog owners find this valuable when they have small dogs sharing with big dogs.
  • Try removing the magnet for a while so the flap is easier to push. The Endura Flap® based pet doors allow for all magnets to be removed to facilitate training if needed as do all Hale Pet Doors. You may be able to remove the magnets from other flaps also though you may end up damaging the flap in so doing. In the case of the Endura, the threshold may be removed altogether by pulling straight up. Doing this will reduce the magnet strength even more than simply taping the threshold down and will also increase the size of the tempting opening that we think will encourage the pet at the bottom of the flap. Once the threshold is removed, the bottom of the "cover strips" (plastic strips installed in the frame just opposite the edges of the flap) is accessible and you can grip there and pull out to reveal the magnets hidden in the frame sides. If you remove the magnets from the frame sides and the threshold, then there's nothing but the hanging weight of the flap for the pet to push against. See Endura troubleshooting videos for more help.
    In the case of Hale Pet Door products, the magnets are installed in the frame, and may be pried out with a flat-bladed screwdriver. They can be left out and put back one or two at a time as the pet becomes more accustomed to using their pet door.
  • If you have a pet door with non-removable magnets, putting some painters tape over the magnets can also decrease the magnet attraction strengths temporarily.


Flap Adjustments 

  • Remove the flap altogether temporarily while the pet gets used to the idea of coming and going in that particular location. Or tape the flap up out of the way.
  • Clear flaps may confuse pets as they might view it as a window. Magnetic and weighted flaps have added weight which may be difficult for your pet to lift or push through. While electronic flaps often make a small noise when the flap is activated, which may frighten your pet.

    If you run into these circumstances try remedying these situations by:

    1. Putting a piece of masking tape on the clear flap to distinguish it from a window and reinforce to your pet its use as a door.

    2. Weighted and magnetic doors problems can be fixed by gently assisting your pet push the door open or by removing the magnet until your pet gets used to the door.

    3. The best way to remedy a scared pet when it comes to electronic pet doors is to positively reinforce the sound of the door in your pet’s mind. This can include praising your pet when they come near the pet door during its activation noise. If this method does not soothe your pet, try turning off the electronic portion of the door and have your pet use it manually while it’s getting acquainted to the door.


Other Tips 

  • Consistency is key. That last and most crucial technique in training your pet to use a pet door is to stay consistent. Stay consistent in your training methods and in your choice of pet doors. If you choose to have more than one pet door in your home, picking the same door or similar style doors will help your pet against confusion.
  • Electronic pet doors all make a sound when they activate that can spook a pet. Try disabling the electronics for a week or so while he becomes accustomed to the flap if the sound bothers him at first.
  • If you have multiple pets you're lucky. The first to learn will demonstrate for the others. Their very owner dog trainer!
  • When you first use a locking cover or when you first lock the flap shut, introduce the pet to it slowly rather than to let him learn 'the hard way' by running into it.