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Best Pet Door and Pet Gate Options: How to Train Pets to Use Baby Gate

by | Sep 8, 2021 | Cat Behavior & Care, Dog Training & Care | 3 comments

According to many who know, a cat is always on the wrong side of the door. They drive us crazy with meow-demands to open the door, let them in, let them out, with rarely any rhyme or reason to their requests. So pet doors, baby gates for pets, and other pet barriers can offer the best options for your cats and dogs.

baby gates

Baby gates offer security for those on both sides of the barrier. Years ago, we introduced Magic to Seren-Kitty using cream cheese and a baby gate!

Why Use Pet Gates?

FCC noticePeople use pet doors for convenience, but also for safety reasons. While dog doors typically give access to the backyard doggy potty area, there are multiple ways a pet door benefits Kitty. Think outside the cat box and a pet door helps you manage your multi-pet household, as well as potential behavior issues.

There are too many risks involved to allow cats or dogs to roam outside unsupervised. Coyotes come right up on my back patio and would love to munch my Karma-Kat. But if partnered with a safe area, a pet door offers lots of convenience for a cat, especially when you aren’t home to do door duty.

Install pet doors in the interior or exterior walls, doors, windows, or even sliding panels to give access to an inside room, or safe outdoor area. Cats love window watching, so this can be a great option when the pet door unit simply fits into the existing opening.

pet gate

Karma-Kat could escape through the kitty door, while big puppy Bravo remained behind in the kitchen.

Baby Gates for Pets

Cats require easy access to their potty place, but the litter box can be the most challenging part of living with a cat. Former feline strays may refuse to use the box and prefer grass, for instance. Or your family may include dogs or toddlers that get into the box (ew!). You can situate the cat litter box on an enclosed back porch, in the garage, within a cat condo or other safe, secure enclosure and offer the cat in-and-out privileges via the pet door.

When you have only one cat, this may not be important, but most folks share their lives with multiple felines. If you also have a dog, managing mealtimes may be a challenge, especially when each pet requires a different diet. Using a pet door to keep some pets out while giving others access can solve this problem.

pet gates

Shadow pesters Karma half to death, so adding pet gates for the cat’s privacy helps reduce stress–for them, and for us!

Karma’s Litter Box Relocation

We recently moved Karma-Kat’s litter box from the master bathroom whirlpool tub (empty, of course!) clear across the house into the laundry room. Having it in the tub kept doggy noses at bay. But we couldn’t use the tub last winter for spare water when the cold weather hit. With the increase in weird weather, we decided to relocate Karma’s potty.

Moving his box took over a week, moving the box only a short distance each day. When introducing a cat to a new potty location, go at the cat’s speed. Once kitty agrees to use the box in the new location, only them move it again (within sight of the previous location). Moving the box too far too quickly risks the cat finding an illegal spot for his kitty-pot!

We already have pet gates on the two kitchen entrances, and on the stairs to limit pet access. So Karma already knew how to use cat doors. We added a similar pet gate to the laundry room to keep Shadow out. Like the other pet gates in our home, it has a Karma-size opening in the bottom for kitty privacy to come and “go.”

We purchased our extra-tall pet gates (with cat doors) on Amazon. They pressure-mount, and (so far, knock wood!) we haven’t needed to screw anything into the door frame.

Kinds of Pet Doors and Baby Gates for Pets

The simplest type of pet door offers a finished opening too small for big pets that allows the little guys access into interior rooms. The next level provides a vinyl flap that covers the opening for the dog or cat to push through and protects against wind and wet.

More expensive models provide a hinged screen or window, which keeps the opening free from buggy intruders or seals air conditioning inside. You can lock most of these so that the cat or dog stays safely inside when you’re not there to monitor antics.

The ultimate in pet doors offer “keyed” access that locks so that only the pet wearing the magnetic collar or microchip ID can get into the house. That prevents strays or wild animals like skunks from invading your home and allows only the designated cat to come and go through that particular portal.

Measure the cat’s height at his shoulders to determine the size door needed. Remember that kittens may have some growing yet to do. If you have other pets, decide if you want them to have access before deciding on the size of the door. You can find extensive selections of pet doors online and at pet products stores.

How to Train Pets to Use Baby Gates

Dogs and cats naturally nose poke, paw, and sniff objects to explore and play with their world. Cats also use cheek-rubs to mark territory. Use this natural inclination to teach Kitty or Poochie to push through the flap or to approach the entrance and trigger it open. Don’t discount kitty smarts, cats are easily trained. Here’s how to trick train tabby.

Prop the door flap open so the pet can see through to the other side. Use a favorite treat or toy to lure her back and forth through the opening until she becomes used to the idea.

Remember to praise her lavishly when she’s brave and pushes through the door. It can be a bit off-putting to shy kitties or puppies to take that first dare. So be sure that the reward on the other side (play, treats, games, praise) gives her good reason to remember the game so she’s eager to repeat.

Reward Behavior You Like

Reward even a nose touch to encourage the behavior. Try rubbing a bit of something smelly like a fishy treat, catnip, or even mint oil on the surface of the flap. That can increase kitty curiosity to explore and nose touch.

When the pet first pushes through, have a favorite treat waiting and reward her on the other side. Be sure to give her time and show her the location of the litter box or food bowl. That way your cat knows what’s beyond the barrier. Once she understands that there MAY be a treat waiting, she’ll more readily use the doggy door (and the bathroom facilities or play opportunities) whether or not a treat awaits.

Once your cat knows how to use a pet door, the pester quotient will go down. And you won’t have to worry about Kitty comings and goings, whenever he has the urge to explore, play, munch, or poop.

For more recommended pet products visit my Amazon list recommendations here!

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3 Comments

  1. Caren

    I now have two baby gates similar to yours but the metal is black and they have wood trim. Ready for this? Levi went right through the cat door when he was younger, I haven’t opened it since. Roary jumps the gates like a champ (when he wants to)……he has this annoying habit of standing by the gate if I am around and he will wait (extremely patiently) for me to open it so he can walk through. Mind you, he doesn’t walk through fast……..he takes his sweet ol time while I’m screaming to get moving before Levi sees that the gate is open lol. Also, I’m trying break our insane and huge Levi of an AWFUL habit. He gets excited and literally smashes himself into the gate……he’s big and I’m afraid of him breaking the gate (rather than hurting himself lol). I have tried everything and he still does it…..he will also do it if he sees Roary “lounging” (make that “taunting”), him on the other side. He is such a different dog than Dakota was. For Dakota, we had those cheap plastic baby gates that were much shorter. He never once tried to jump them. We used those when Levi was younger….until the day Levi jumped over it. Then we got the tall ones (also from Amazon) as you suggested. We use them to give Roary half the condo that is a “dog free zone”, we keep his litter, food and toys on the side of the gate where no woofies are allowed to enter 🙂

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      Oh my, Caren! Shadow-Pup also went through the cat door at first–he’s too big now. I worried he’d go through and get caught! The newest pet gate, for Karma’s potty spot in the laundry, has a much smaller cat door and he’s not tried that. I think it’s the newest version of the other gates which we’d had for many years (since Magic, LOL!).

      Your big baby dog sure sounds like fun, despite the gate-smashing tendencies. Ha! What we do for our furries, eh?

      Reply
  2. Andrea

    Great ideas Amy. Unfortunately the dog I just adopted is even smaller than my cats so she can fit through gates that allow my cats to get through. They are all seniors so I don’t want to make them jump over it. So far the dog, Izzy, hasn’t gotten into the litter pans, I think her legs are too short 🙂

    Reply

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