The freedom to go inside or outside at its own discretion is ideal for a dog – and so easy for the owner. But not every dog immediately understands that that new thing in the door offers him this freedom.
What do you do if your dog refuses to go through the flap? Have patience is the best advice. If it’s a flap that opens and closes easily, like the Tomsgates flaps with their patented slats system, your loyal friend will get it sooner rather than later. In the meantime, you can try to speed up the process in different ways. Here are some things that you can do.
Plan the training sessions
Whichever of the following training methods you want to try: keep it short. Better a few ten-minute sessions spread over the day than continue until both owner and dog get frustrated. Plan your dog flap training preferably at times when the dog is active and you are not distracted yourself.
Ask yourself where the dog wants to be
Is your dog happy in the garden or does he prefer the couch? Keep this in mind during the first training sessions. Train your dog in the beginning to go to the place where he likes to stay at that hour of the day.
Reward your dog, but only with success
Keep some treats in your hand and let your dog smell them, but give him the reward only when he has completely passed through the flap. If he partially goes out or in, encourage him, but only reward him when he is on the other side.
Lift the flap
Keep the flap open at the beginning and make sure it does not fall on the dog, as this may frighten him. If this exercise is successful, you can keep the flap open halfway so that it touches the dog when it passes through. If this scares the dog, keep the flap open again and try again at the next session.
Call your dog
Once your dog understands how the flap works, you can go and stand on the other side and call him with your most enthusiastic voice (the voice that promises walking, eating or playing).
Give him a push
This method does not work with all dogs and should certainly not be forced. Try it only with a dog who is not afraid of the flap, but has not yet worked out how to use it. Obviously you do this gently and in a controlled manner: first push your dog against the flap with his nose and then continue softly and reward him with exuberant praises or a treat.