Thanks to Home Alone, you might have grown up thinking that dog doors are nothing more than a “Thieves Welcome!” sign. The reality is, dog doors can provide newfound freedom for your four-legged friend. Here’s what you need to know when shopping for the perfect dog door.
Dog Door Options
There are three basic types of dog doors; the right choice depends on your living situation, dog size, and taste. Read on for details and popular examples of each.
Traditional Flap Dog Doors: If the door is only allowing access to a garage or locked patio, you don’t need to be concerned about security. By the same token, a smaller dog’s flap size won’t allow a burglar in…unless they’re a contortionist.
Hard Plastic Dog Doors: Most of these offer the added feature of a lock mechanism, which alleviates many safety concerns.
Magnetic/Electronic Dog Doors: These work in conjunction with your dog’s collar, only unlocking/opening when your pet attempts entry or egress. This helps if you’re worried about other animals getting in, or your small child getting out! The electronic ones are much pricier overall.
Dog Doors: Installation Tips
If you know the basic model you’re going for, the next step is figuring out location, materials, and style of installation.
- Door or Wall Install? What’s the best place for concealing the dog door from people casing your place? You might get a wall kit and mount your door selection as its own separate access, separate from your doors.
- Metal or Plastic Frame? Plastic is fine for small dogs, but a big dog prone to breaking things may break softer material. Upgrade to a solid aluminum frame or something more durable if needed for safety.
- Sliding Glass Insert? If you’re renting or don’t want to affect resale value, they make spring-loaded sliding glass inserts with a dog door in the lower third. In other words, it’s a door you can take with you.
When It Comes to Dog Doors, No Size Fits All
Before you measure the door, or wall, and start cutting a hole, make sure you measure the most important thing: your dog!
- Height: Two inches above shoulder height should be more than sufficient, as a dog will duck their head to push open the door or flap.
- Width: The dog door should safely be at least two inches wider than shoulders or hips (whichever is broader), and consider your dog’s potential for weight gain.
- Age: If you’re dead set on getting it early, consult the upper-end average for your breed and plan accordingly.
- Multiple dogs: A door needs to be low enough for your smallest and high enough for your tallest.
We’ve discussed intruder concerns and ways to plan for security, but what else should you be mindful of?
- Children: It’s a documented risk that young kids accessing dog doors have led to accidents—even fatalities. Dog lovers who also love their young children may choose to wait on a pet door, or pony up for a more expensive electronic locking options.
- Animal Intruders: In Florida, alligators have crawled in through dog doors, and raccoon vandals have snuck into rural homes to wreak havoc. In some cases higher placed doors for longer legged dogs solves this problem, but do your regional research and choose accordingly.
- Outside Environment: What is your dog exiting into? Is the backyard truly secure? Have you taken outdoor precautions to ensure proper safety?
- Energy Efficiency: Even the flap doors include energy-saving options like this one, so consider your climate and spend money up front to keep long-term costs low.
- Training: Just because your dog goes through the front door doesn’t mean they’ll automatically understand the dog door. Plan for several weeks of reward-based training with treats, praising them for going in and out of their own accord.
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