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Q&A: My dog won’t use the doggy door when I’m home

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Question submitted by Sherri H.
I have a girl and a boy Shih Tzu. I have a dog door for them to go out in the backyard. The dog door is on my screen door. My girl dog loves it. My boy dog won’t go out the door if I’m home. I have to let him out the screen door and I have to stay and watch him. He’ll come back in the dog door on his own because I’m inside. Additionally, he’ll only go wee wee out there. I found when I’m not home he goes in and out the door. What should I do?
Terry’s answer

When I first read your question, I thought maybe something scary happened to your boy that he has associated with the dog door, but since he is using it when you’re not home, that’s probably not the case. I would encourage him to go through the door by putting his food bowl outside just outside the door. When he goes outside to eat, don’t follow him. When you go outside any other time, I would not let him follow you out the door, but go out by yourself and then while outside, encourage him to come out the dog door.  I think just breaking the habit of you letting him out the door will help. Good luck.

Terry Meeks is a dog trainer, APDT Member an CGC Evaluator in Pinellas County, Florida.  Find Four on the Floor Dog Training at and on Facebook.

Author: doggywoof staff

3 Responses to “Q&A: My dog won’t use the doggy door when I’m home”

  1. Bethany foran says:

    I have the same problem my four year old dog won’t use the doggie door. She will go from the house to the yard but not from the yard inside the house. She will just look at me as if she does not know we have one although she just went out it one min before. Last night she went outside to follow our other dog and did not come back inside until I heard her barking at five in the morning and had to let her in. What should I do she is smart and goes in and out it’s just sometimes she gets locked out or forgets.

  2. I’m having the same problem as Bethany with a 4 year old mini schnauzer. He will go out of the house fine, but acts as if he can’t remember how to come back in. Our door is right next to a sliding glass door, so he’ll just stand there and look pitiful until one of us ‘helps’ him in by encouraging him at the door with treats. Sometimes I think he’s just playing us for the treats, but other times I wonder. He seems to be completely at a loss about how to come in the door. He’s so smart in other ways, it just baffles me. I will say that in the past I’ve held out about letting him through the glass door; however my husband will break down after a while and let him in. Right now I’m trying to train my husband not to do that!

  3. Jenny says:

    I have a three year old chihuahua who will use the dog door during the day, but when my husband is home she pees in the house. Any ideas on how to stop this? I have tried putting her in the kennel, shampooing the carpet and using vinegar and water.

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