Training Your Pet To Use A Pet Door

A normal, well adjusted pet can almost certainly be trained to use a pet door!

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, your pet doesn't know what a pet door flap is at first so he 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.


Right Size Matters

There is nothing more dreadful as getting stuck somewhere you don’t want to be. For your pet, 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. Don't get the absolute smallest pet door he can barely squeeze through. See our measurement guide for tips on choosing the right size.

Training Sessions 

  •  Limit training sessions to no more than 10 minutes at a time. If your pet does not succeed the first time it might be necessary to schedule frequent training sessions a week. Try not to overdo the number of training sessions in a day. Two well spaced out training sessions in one day should be the maximum.

  • Hold the flap open for him all the way at first; then less and less so he gradually gets the idea of pushing against it to get to the treat.

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 their new pet door. Be patient with your pet, do not push or shove them through the door. The first step is to slowly introduce them to the pet 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.

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. 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 treats 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
  • Be sure to train them at a comfortable height- meaning raise the door enough so it resembles how high it will be once installed


Remember training can take considerate amounts of time, there is no standard practice as every cat is unique.

Magnet Adjustments

  • If your pet door has a moveable threshold, then taping down the threshold will significantly reduce the magnet strength and make the flap easier to push.
  • 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 video tutorials on how to do so here.
    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 his 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.

  • If you're planning to use more than one pet door, have them all use the same flap if possible for greater consistency.


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.
  • 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.