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Training Your Pet To Use A Pet Door

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

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.

Training isn't hard. There's only one mistake to avoid in training: Do not frighten your pet! He/She may associate his fright with the pet door and not want to go near it again. Probably the most common way to frighten is to shove him through the pet door. Don't!

Coax him through with a treat; praise and reward him for going through. Never scold or punish.

Here are a few more specific tips

  • Limit training sessions to no more than 10 minutes at a time.
  • 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.
  • If your pet door has a moveable threashold, 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Don't get the absolute smallest pet door he can barely squeeze through. Give him a little elbow room.
  • If you're planning to use more than one pet door, have them all use the same flap if possible for greater consistency.
  • 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.