A Guide on Pet Door Training

Border Collie coming inside the house through Endura Flap Wall Mount Door

5 Pet door training Instructions for Dogs and Cats

Your pet is one step closer to freedom! Now, they just need the training to use their new door…Here are the do’s and do not’s for dog and cat door training!

With time and patience, you can definitely teach an old dog new tricks. Below, are some tips on making training a breeze. We also will include some common mistakes to avoid. Feel free to comment with any additional concerns and we would be glad to help!

Starting the Process

1. Consistency is key

So how to train a cat to use a cat door or the dog to use a dog door varies, but there is one golden rule and that is consistency.  This goes hand in hand with the saying “practice makes perfect.” Training your pet does take time, but this counts as practice for them. Sticking to the same methods and doors will give your pet a better chance of learning fast. If you plan on having different types of pet doors in the house, choose one to use during the training exercises.

2. Keep it cool, calm, and collected 

Every pet learns differently, and in the event your pet needs some extra time with their door, stay patient. Trying to rush the process can confuse your pet, and stall the process. It is best to refrain from pushing or shoving your pet through the door. First, introduce them to the flap. You can push it open and close to show them how it works. Try to keep it open and encourage them to peer their head through so they know it is safe. If your pet is having trouble getting comfortable with their door, position yourself outside so they can come to you. Treats are also a great way to entice a walk through.

Border Collie trying to come out out of the Endura Flap Sliding Glass Dog Door during his pet door training session

3. Set a time limit

It is a good idea to set a time limit for training. We recommend it be 10 minutes at a time. The harder time your pet has might indicate more training sessions throughout the week or day.

4. Make sure the Flap is the Correct Size

There might be nothing more awkward than getting stuck in somewhere you don’t fit. Before installing your item, make sure your pet will be able to fit through that opening. Watch how they go through and judge their comfort level.  This is also where you might see the difference in training dog to use the dog door versus the cats.  Cats tend be more timid and cautious.  If they get stuck mid-way, they definitely cannot train to use it!

5. Adapt to the different Flaps

There are so many different model doors. Each door has their own flap that can be clear, heavily magnetized, or electronic. We have provided additional tips and tricks to get your pet comfortable with different flap types:

Clear Flaps: Your pet might confuse this with a window. You can place a piece of masking tape on the flap to remind your pet they can go through it.

Magnetized flaps: Energy efficient flaps can come with side or bottom magnets, sometimes both. This can cause the flap to increase in weight, making it harder to push. If you can, remove a magnet to let your pet get the hang of it. Otherwise, help push it open the first few times.

Electronic Flaps: These openings tend  to be made of a hard material that is not flexible. When activated by a chip or collar key, a clicking noise will unlock the flap. If this noise frightens your pet, it is best to positively reinforce the sound. You can encourage and praise your pet for going through despite the noise. You can also turn off the electronic device until they fully understand how to pass through.  

Border Collie peeking out from the SureFlap Microchip Pet door

Common Actions to Avoid

Some repeated actions happen during training. We mentioned giving treats and praises, but there is a time and a place for that. Overdoing some training methods can give you the opposite results.

1. Too Many Treats

This type of encouragement can take away your pet’s motivation to train. Treats should be a surprise reward. Starting off with them is fine, but work to move away from them. Instead, try rewarding with toys.

2. Emotional Overload

Whether it’s positive or negative, too much emotion can confuse and frustrate your pet. Negative feedback can cause your pet to associate the pet door with fear. Too much positive feedback can be distracting to learn. Your pet might get overly excited or hyper. Your pet has a better chance of staying focused and learning fast if their coach presents themselves as a calm authority. Gentle praise and affection has a higher effect on learning capabilities.

3. Stay on Track

This refers to staying on track with time and your participation efforts. Consistent sessions are important, if you set aside 10 minutes a day, make that an everyday finish time. Working for different times every day can easily frustrate your pet and cause a loss of focus. In addition, you want to make sure you are not getting frustrated easily. Continue until there is a success, follow it with appraisal, then time-out the session.

These training tips and tricks apply to both cats and dogs! It takes two to train, stick with your pet until the end, and it will be worth it! We would love to hear your thoughts on how you got your pet to learn. Comment below to help others out too!

5 Five Dog Training Mistakes To Avoid

  1. Knowing When To Quit. Training a new puppy, or an older dog, requires finding the right balance between dedicating just enough time to training while still keeping sessions short enough as to not frustrate your canine companion. The best way to approach training sessions is to continue until you have a success, reward with praise, then quit. This will keep frustrations to a minimum (for both you and your pup!) and keeps dogs motivated and responsive. However, on the flip side, don’t end a training session too soon. It’s important for dogs to understand what you recognize as success, so try to encourage positive behavior during training sessions. Positivity is always key!
  2. Too Many Treats. Treats are a great way to encourage positive behavior and recognize your pup with rewards. However, don’t overlook the inherent value in praise and acknowledgment. Treats are an effective way to teach a new dog old tricks, but eventually replace treats with other positive reinforcers such as toys or praise.  Unexpectedly rewarding your dog with treats will work to sharpen behavior, but constant treats will encourage your dog to lose focus and motivation.
  3. Excessive Emotion. Using too much emotion (positive or negative) can be distracting and inhibit a dog’s ability to focus and learn. Negative feedback using force or anger is not conducive to training, and will significantly intimidate a dog, making training a destructive experience. Using positive feedback that is too over the top can also over-excite dogs, making them unfocused and hyper. Use a calming energy when training a dog, and ensure that praise is loving and supportive without being over the top. Dogs will respond best to a calm authority who rewards positive behavior with gentle praise and affection.
  4. Inconsistency.  Inconsistency is one of the biggest mistakes you can make in the training process. It’s important to define ground rules early on, and stick to your guns. Variances in the training process will confuse and frustrate your pup, and reduce their ability to learn. Inconsistency also breaks trust, one of the most important factors in your relationship with your dog
  5. Being Reactive. Timing is often key for learning to be proactive in the training process. It requires a lot of patience and the ability to understand and anticipate your dog’s behavior. By foreseeing your dog’s next action, you can easily adjust your training to be most effective.

Pet Doors’ Tip: These training mistakes apply to both cats and dogs! Remember, when teaching your pet to use their new cat door or dog door to stay away from these common training blunders. It’s best to make any experience with new pet doors purrfectly positive!

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One thought on “A Guide on Pet Door Training

  1. Andy

    Wow this is great! I’ve seen many people asking about how they can train their pet to use the pet door they purchased and I usually tell them to use the treat method 🙂 Sometimes pets can forget how it works due to flap wear and tear. If your flap needs replacing and you have an Ideal Pet Products door, check out the replacement parts store they have on their site.

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