Whether you’re just tired of playing doggy doorman or you need a way for your dogs to get outside to potty while you’re at work, you may be looking for a way for your dog to come and go from the house on his own. The answer just might be a dog door, one that can be installed either permanently or, if you’re renting, temporarily to give your dog access to your yard while you’re away. Before you start shopping, though, we’ve got five things you should know before buying a dog door.
Dog doors have gone high tech.
The days of the simple flap are gone; today you can shop for a dog door that reads your dog’s microchip and opens specifically for him. Not only will this keep visiting dogs out of your house, but it will also prevent wildlife from entering your home–or, if your dog door is extra-large, will prevent a burglar from entering. If you have multiple pets, you can restrict access to keep cats indoors while your dog comes and goes–or restrict one dog recovering from surgery or an injury while the other dog still uses the door.
You may need to train your dog to use the door.
Some dogs take to the concept of the dog door faster than others. You may need to train your dog to use the door door. As with any training, take it slowly and make it fun for your dog! Get a friend to join you in the training and, with one of you on each side of the dog door, use a favorite treat to train your dog, first working through just the opening of the dog door, with the flap removed. Take the training step by step, letting your dog proceed at his own pace, watching for signs of stress before you advance to the next training step. After your dog is comfortable going back and forth through the dog door opening, you’ll add the flap. A smear of peanut butter on the flap will encourage your dog to get his face right up to the flap, a vital step toward opening the flap on his own.
Dog doors aren’t just for doors any more.
Think of dog doors and you probably picture one installed permanently in an exterior door. That’s definitely the most popular option but it’s not your only choice. Homeowners can opt for wall-mounted dog doors, literally cutting a hole in the exterior wall to give your dog access to the lawn. Plan on professional installation somewhere in the $100-$200 range for this type of door. For DIYers and renters, sliding patio doors can be fitted with dog doors. The new dog door fits into the track and secures to the frame but, when you move, you can easily take the dog door with you.
Dog doors range from small to extra-large with a size for every canine. But don’t just consider your dog at the moment when deciding on the size. If your dog is young, is he still growing? What if you later adopt another dog–would you get a dog the same size or smaller? Let’s face it: a dog door is a fairly large purchase, especially when you factor in installation costs. If you think you might later add a larger dog to your family, it’s safer to go up in size; a smaller dog can easily use a larger dog door but it doesn’t work the other way around! While upsizing has its perks, consider the weight of the flap if you have a very small dog; some flaps have magnetic snaps that help with energy efficiency but can make the flap more difficult for smaller dogs to open.
Consider home security when making your choice.
If you need a larger dog door, spend extra time comparing security features before you make your selection. Electronic dog doors that read your dog’s microchip provide extra security. Some doors offer timers so you can automatically choose to keep the door locked at night; manual locks let you lock the door any time, including when you’re traveling. Tinted flaps are helpful for preventing potential burglars from peeping into your home to check for two- or four-legged residents.
Dog doors can be a great way to give your dog the freedom to go outside to potty while you’re away, especially important as dogs get older. Spend some time comparing the growing number of models on the market to make sure your dog door is a good fit for years to come.