How To Train Your Dog To Use A Pet Door

The big day has arrived and it’s time to bring your new puppy home! You have everything prepared and ready. The adorable dog bowl with his name splashed across it. The lead ready to take him out for walks. The cupboard full of dog food and treats to keep him happy. The cozy dog bed at the foot of your bed. And finally, the doggy door has been installed, ready for them to use…or not. Many people mistakenly think their dog will instinctively know how to use the dog door, but unfortunately that’s often not the case. This is a skill you need to teach them. But don’t worry, with a little perseverance, they will get there in no time.

How does a dog door work?

Dog doors come in all shapes and sizes and can be used in a variety of settings. The pet door can work for glass doors, windows, security screens, doors and walls, depending on your preference. The most important thing is to make sure you pick the right door for your pet. Too high and they will have trouble stepping over it, and too narrow and they will be forced to squeeze through.

If you are purchasing a dog door while your dog is still a puppy, do your research on what size they are expected to grow to help you pick the best door for them.

Tips For Training


Once the door is installed you are ready to go! While it can be all too tempting to pop your dog in front of the door and give them a little nudge through, there are a few alternatives you can try first. Here are some tips before you get started:

  1. Practice patience: While something like going through a door seems so obvious to you, it’s a whole new concept for your pet, so give them time to get used to it.
  2. Stock up on treats: This is the best way to teach a dog new tricks, so be armed and ready to go, waiting on the other side of the flap.
  3. Make it fun: It may not happen straight away, but they will get there. Making the training as fun as possible means it is a great bonding opportunity for you and your pet.

Training Your Dog To Use A Doggie Door

There are a few different methods you can adopt when it comes to teaching your dog this essential trick. Let’s take you through them.


  • Method 1 – Calling your dog from the other side

Start with the basics! Head outside and call your dog to you. This may be all it takes to get them through the flap for the first time. When first starting out, it can often help to hold up the flap for them so they can see your face on the other side. This is often the perfect nudge to get them through. Use lots of positive reinforcement and praise once they get through.

  • Method 2 – Luring with treats

Of course, some dogs need a little more coaxing. This is where the treats come in! You can either sit outside with a treat in your hand and call your dog again – this time showing them the treat, instead of your face as you hold the flap open. Alternatively, you can set up a trail of small treats from inside to out to lure them out. Once again, positive reinforcement is key!

  • Method 3 – Get physical

If all else fails, it’s time to offer them that nudge to get them through. This often works best when there are two people involved. Have one person inside with the dog and the other outside waiting with a treat. Give them a little nudge through the doggie door and immediately greet them with a treat and lots of praise on the other side. This is hopefully enough to show them how great the doggie door is.

You may need to tackle all three methods before you finally get there with your dog, and that’s OK! Every dog is different and will learn in their own time. It’s important to practice several times to get used to it and make it lots of fun for them in the process. After all, you want them to love the doggie door and use it all the time. Good luck!