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Help! My Stubborn Dog Won't Use Their Pet Door!

You've looked at all the guides and did all the training, but your dog just won't use their brand new pet door. You don't want to return your flap just yet, but it looks like you have no other option. 

Does this sound like you? If so, we have the ultimate training guide below to help your dog cross the last threshold preventing them from using their pet door. 

The Ultimate Guide to Training a Stubborn Dog to Use a Pet Door

Training your dog to use a pet door can enrich their life, granting them freedom and you convenience. However, not all dogs immediately understand or embrace this new avenue to adventure. For those with more hesitant or stubborn companions, a thoughtful approach can make all the difference. Here's your ultimate guide, combining expert advice and time-tested tips to help your dog master their new door.

Choose the Right Door

First and foremost, the pet door must be the right size. An ill-fitting door can deter your dog from using it. We have a pet size measurement calculator to help every pet owner find the flap size that works best with their dog. 

Ensure the door is tall enough so your dog doesn't have to duck, and wide enough to pass through comfortably. A quick tip: the top of the pet door should be at least 1" higher than the tallest point of your pet's back.

Gradual Introduction

Introduce the pet door to your dog by holding the flap open. Let them see, sniff, and become curious about this new object. Use treats or their favorite toy to encourage them to peer through and eventually pass through the opening. Start with short, positive sessions to keep their interest and prevent any stress.

Consistency and Patience

Training requires consistency. Practice regularly, ideally at the same times each day, and use the same commands and rewards to help your dog learn what's expected. Patience is key; some dogs may take longer to get comfortable with the idea of using the pet door.

Reward Success

Whenever your dog successfully uses the pet door, reward them with treats, praise, or playtime. Positive reinforcement makes the learning process enjoyable and memorable for your dog, encouraging them to use the door more often.

Use a Training Flap

If the standard flap intimidates your dog, consider starting with a lighter, training flap if available. This can make it easier for them to push through. Gradually transition to the regular flap as they gain confidence.

The Endura Flap pet door does not have a training flap, but you can remove the magnets to make it easier for pets to push the flap open. 

Limit Other Exit Options

To reinforce the use of the pet door, temporarily restrict your dog's access to the regular doors. This encourages them to use the pet door and helps them understand it's their special access point to the outdoors.

Adjust the Flap if Necessary

For doors with heavy or magnetized flaps, you might need to temporarily remove or adjust the magnets to make it easier for your dog to push through. Once they're accustomed, you can reintroduce the magnets for security.

Avoid Common Training Mistakes

  • Overusing Treats: Use treats effectively but sparingly. Transition to verbal praise or toys as rewards to keep their motivation high without relying solely on food.
  • Showing Frustration: Maintain a calm demeanor during training sessions. Dogs are sensitive to our emotions, and showing frustration or impatience can set back their progress.
  • Lack of Consistency: Stick with the training, using the same methods and cues. Inconsistency can confuse your dog and hinder their learning.

Addressing Specific Flap Types

  • Clear Flaps: Dogs might see these as windows. Mark the flap with a piece of tape to help them understand it's a passageway.
  • Heavy or Magnetized Flaps: Initially assist by holding the flap or reducing magnet strength to ease their passage.
  • Electronic Flaps: Desensitize your dog to the sound of the motor and teach them to wait for the flap to unlock before attempting to pass through.

Practice Makes Perfect

Training a dog to use a pet door doesn't happen overnight. It requires dedication, patience, and consistent reinforcement. Remember, every dog learns at their own pace. Celebrate the small victories and remain supportive as they learn to navigate their new door.

By following these steps and maintaining a positive, consistent training environment, even the most stubborn dog can learn to use a pet door with confidence. Remember, the goal is not just to teach them a new skill but to enhance their quality of life and independence. Happy training!

Mia Daniele

Written by

Copy Editor

Pets: I have a fluffy, 14 year old chow-collie mix with red fur named Rosso. He's very stubborn and has the standoffish personality of a cat.
Fun stuff: I am a hot chocolate connoisseur.

Copy Editor

Pets: I have a fluffy, 14 year old chow-collie mix with red fur named Rosso. He's very stubborn and has the standoffish personality of a cat.
Fun stuff: I am a hot chocolate connoisseur.

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