Hi, my name’s Irena and I have four dogs, Aphrodite, Oliver and Lipstick who are all nearly 15 and Sherlock who’s 5.
I’m lucky enough to work from home so they get lots of companionship and get let in and out whenever they want. However, what if you have to go out to work? This is where a dog door comes in handy.
Why You Might Need a Dog Door
Dogs left alone all day can easily become bored which can lead them to being destructive. You don’t really want to come home to torn cushions, ripped wallpaper and chewed slippers.
They might even go to the toilet indoors. If you fit a dog door they can go outside whenever they please to get some playtime and to go to the toilet. Just be sure that your yard is properly fenced in so that they can’t escape.
Dogs need exercise on a daily basis but perhaps you don’t always have the time to walk them. With a dog door they can go outside and get the exercise they need.
It’s also a good idea to put toys outside for them to play with. Another good reason to have a dog door is to save wear and tear on your doors.
My Sherlock gets very excited about going out and then coming back in again and he has scratched a couple of my wooden doors. If you have big dogs who do this they can do major and costly damage.
Dog doors don’t only have to be used on exterior doors. They can be used internally as well to create pet friendly spaces and out of bounds areas.
You might want to create a bedroom for your dogs in a closet and a dog door would be ideal in stopping a small child going in and sleeping in the bed.
It would also give your dogs a chance to get a bit of peace and quiet if needed. If you have cats you could put their litter box in a closet with a door for them to use. This would stop horrible smells from escaping.
Another reason to have an internal pet door is if you have dogs that don’t always get on. You could just set up the door for one particular dog.
Then he or she would have a chance to escape if things got too much. This would actually work well with my two warring cats. As it is one just follows me to bed to get away from the other.
Of course a simple reason to get a dog door is to save you from getting up every time your dog wants to go out or come in. Mind you then you might be the one in need of some sort of exercise not your dog!
How do Electronic Dog Doors Work?
Doors which aren’t electronic aren’t ideal as they can let in any animals and you may come home to unwanted visitors.
Electronic doors are selective as to who they let in. Some have a chip which responds to a chip embedded in a key in the collars of your dogs so only the dogs with the chips can use the door.
They lock immediately after the dogs have gone out or come in. Some have magnets which you attach to the collars.
As your dogs approach the door the magnets connect remotely to the door lever and the flap is opened. Your dogs can then push their way through the flap.
As they move away from the door, the magnetic force reduces and so the door locks. Other electronic doors are coded to the microchips that you have embedded in your dogs.
All dogs should have a microchip in case they are lost or stolen and this is another great use for them.
In addition some dog doors also have timers so you can decide when your dogs can go out. Perhaps you don’t want your dogs to go out after dark so you can just set the door to open during daylight hours.
Now in addition there are dog doors which you can control with an app on your phone or tablet. With just a swipe you can let your dogs in or out.
The great thing is that they can be used remotely and some have motion alerts so you can keep an eye on your dogs even when you are at work.
The best dog doors are built with military-grade bulletproof resin so you don’t have to worry about burglars trying to get access through a large dog door. They should also be resistant to cracks and discoloration whatever the weather.
How to Choose a Dog Door
The first thing to do is decide whether to buy one for interior or exterior use as they are different. Then you have to measure your dogs.
It’s easy if you have just one dog but if you have more than one, things get a little tricky. You’ll need to find one that is low enough for your shortest dog to get through and also tall enough for the biggest dog.
If the door is too big it could be difficult for your dogs to step through and if it’s too small they’re not going to be able to use it. If it pinches them they probably won’t use it either.
There are 3 measurements you need to take when measuring for a dog door. The first is the width and you need to take this at the widest part of your dogs which is usually the chest.
Add an extra inch to be safe. If your dogs have lots of fur, don’t add this in as the fur will fold as they go through the door.
The next measurement to take is the height which needs to be from the ground to the top of the shoulders. This time add another 2 inches.
The last measurement to take is the rise which is from the floor to the lowest part of their chests. This time take off an inch.
If your dogs are disabled in any way, it is best to keep the rise as low as possible. A guide is 1 inch for smaller dogs and 2 inches for bigger dogs.
The next thing to do is to train your dogs to go through the dog door. They might not take to it straight away so a good idea is to praise them every time they go through.
Giving them an edible treat would help as well. They’ll soon get used to their new-found freedom.
Automatic vs Remote Control Dog Doors
In my opinion both automatic and remote control doors are so much better than an ordinary dog flap through which any animal or even a human can get in.
They give you more control over your dogs’ comings and goings and I don’t think that one is better than the other.
The only disadvantage with key automatic doors is that your dogs could lose the keys as they are just attached to their collars.
Plus they could also lose their collars. I have a dog that is prone to doing that. It wouldn’t be much fun if your dogs lost their keys if they were outside and it started to rain.
I think the microchip doors are better as there is nothing for them to lose. Just make sure that the door can be programmed to take more than one microchip if you have more than one dog.
Even your cats could use the door if they are micro chipped. This is much easier than putting a collar on your cats. Automatic doors with timers are the best as they give you more control over your dogs.
They will soon learn what times the door opens and work out their toilet routine.
The advantage of a remote control dog door is that you can operate the doors from anywhere. Perhaps you don’t like your dogs to go out at night so one swish on your phone and the door is locked.
If you want to let your dogs out early in the morning, you can do this from the comfort of your bed and get a little more shut-eye.
You can even get video alerts on some of the apps so you can keep an eye on your pooches.
The only disadvantage is that it can be a little time-consuming as you have to work the door yourself and remember to open and close it for your dogs. With an automatic door they can be left to their own devices.
How to Fit a Dog Door
If you’re handy around the house and are good at doing odd jobs like my husband was, it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to fit a dog door.
If you’re not, like me, get professionals help otherwise you might end up having to buy a whole new door which will be a costly business.
You will need to gather together quite a few tools to have on hand. What may be needed are the following – drill and drill bits, jigsaw, hammer, screwdriver, wire cutter, tape measure, tape, pencil, level, duct tape and scissors.
It is best to actually take the door off its’ hinges and lie it on a flat surface and install the dog door this way.
First, mark out the shoulder height of your largest dog on the door and draw a vertical line through the center of this line. Match these lines to the template which comes with the dog door.
Tape the template to the door and mark out the outline with a pencil. Once you have removed the template, drill holes on the insides of the corners and then, starting at one of the corners, cut out the hole with the jigsaw.
Then you are ready to put in the dog door. Put screws in the holes until the interior and exterior come together. That’s all there is to it. Just hang the door back up and start training your pups to use the door.
Here’s a video showing you how to fit a dog door. Hope you find it useful.
Top 4 Best Electronic Automatic Dog Doors
1) Petsafe Electronic Smart Door
To use this dog door, you put a Smartkey on your dogs’ collars and by using radio frequency; the door reads the signal from the Smartkey and allows the battery-operated door to open.
This is great if you have more than one pet as it is programmable with up to 5 Smartkeys.
There are 3 programmable modes; unlocked so even animals without a Smartkey can access the door, locked so no animal can go in or out and automatic which only allows pets with Smartkeys to access the door.
When the door doesn’t sense the Smartkey, it automatically locks. The flap is energy-efficient and insulated and has UV sun protection.
This door is particularly designed to be installed in doors, both exterior and interior.
However, if you want to install it in a wall, you can buy a wall installation kit from Petsafe. You may want your pets to access certain rooms in the house rather than others.
2) Sureflap Microchip Small Dog and Cat Door
This door works on picking up the microchip on your dogs or cats. It’s great for a multiple animal household as it can store up to 32 microchips, not that we think you have that many animals!
It would be a very crowded household if you did! It will also work with an RFID collar if your pets aren’t micro chipped and there is one included in the package.
Once your pets go through the door it locks so unwanted animals can’t get in.
The door has a number of modes that you can set. You can set the time the door can open and when it has to stay closed.
Perhaps you don’t want your dogs going out at night and barking and so waking up the neighbors. All you have to do is put the door on curfew mode. To make things even better it’s easy to install on any door, window or wall.
3) High Tech Pet Power Pet Electronic Pet Door
This dog door is activated by an MS-4 ultrasonic collar. It only opens when your dogs are directly approaching it, not if they’re lying asleep next to it or are just wandering around.
There is a 4-way access control which allows you to select different options. You can decide to put the door on closed and locked so that your pets can’t get out, in only, out only or full access.
Full access is probably the best option as your dogs can go in and out as they please, but the door locks each time they pass through.
The door opens upwards rather than outwards so your dogs don’t have to push.
It is made of bulletproof resin which is totally secure and it has an automatic deadbolt locking feature which gives added security. It is airtight, weatherproof and windproof and is suitable for dogs and cats up to 30 pounds.
4) Solo Pet Door Automatic Electronic Dog and Cat Door
This pet door has been made by the same manufacturer for the last 25 years so you can tell that it must have something going for it.
It comes in 10 different sizes so it should be suitable for most sizes of dogs, from the tiniest pup upwards. You can also buy it as either door install or wall install.
The pet door is operated by magnetic pet tags which you attach to the collars of your dogs. They are waterproof so you don’t have to worry about any damage and they don’t even need batteries.
In addition they close slowly so are completely safe for your dogs. You don’t have to worry about them being hit by the door.
Top 2 Best Electronic Remote Control Dog Doors
1) Wagz Smart Door
If you want to control the times your dogs go out, this is the door for you. Just set up the app on your smartphone and you’re ready to go.
You can even use it when you’re at work and can create schedules for the times you want your dogs to go out.
It has live HD video and motion alerts so you can keep an eye on your dogs whenever you want. Alerts are sent to your phone when your dogs go out.
The door is supplied with an ID tag and pendants for you to put on the collars of your dogs. This ensures that even when you have opened the door for your dogs to go out, they will be the only animals able to use the door.
Additional features include low power usage which ensures that your dogs won’t be locked out in the rain or heat while you are out. The door also has LED lights so that your dogs will be able to see the door if out after dark.
2) Sureflap Microchip Cat and Small Dog Door Connect
This is another app-controlled door which allows you to control when your dog goes out.
You can open and close the door remotely using the SureFlap Connect Pet Door Hub which is sold separately.
You can decide at what time you want your dogs to be in. It works on Android and iOS smartphones.
The SureFlap Connect Pet Door Hub plugs into your WIFI router easily and also comes with an Ethernet cable.
It notifies you when your dog or cat approaches the door. It can connect to up to 10 devices so if you have more than one dog door you won’t have a problem.
As can be seen electronic dog doors are a blessing in disguise. They save you from having to get up every few minutes to let your dogs in and out like I sometimes have to do especially with Sherlock.
That isn’t much fun in the winter especially as he scratches the doors as well. I still love him though!
They are very useful if you are at work all day as it gives your dogs a chance to get some exercise and fun time as well as relieving themselves.
This is good for their health because if they hold it in for too long they can get bladder and urinary tract infections. Use them inside as well to segregate warring pets or to set up diagnosed pet areas.
The only thing though is that your dogs should be reasonably well-behaved. If they make a lot of noise when they go outside it will disturb the neighbors and may cause ill feeling.
As to whether to get an automatic or a remote controlled dog door, the choice is entirely up to you. Both have advantages.
A remote controlled dog door would certainly suit a computer geek and it does give you a lot of control over when your dogs go out or stay in.
Being able to see them as well can be comforting. If you get an automatic dog door it’s a good idea to get one with a timer which can then give you more control over your dogs’ movements.
I would say that the ones that work on microchips are best as there’s no chance of tags getting lost.
A disadvantage of a remote controlled dog door is the cost. They are usually more expensive than automatic dog doors.
An advantage of both is that they close quickly so you won’t be letting heat or cold into your house. This can often be a problem with ordinary dog doors which can flap about in the wind.
You know what; I have almost persuaded myself to get an automatic dog door. I’m sure that Sherlock, Aphrodite, Oliver and Lipstick would make good use of one, especially Sherlock.
Mind you he is a bit of a barker so I would definitely need to regulate his time outside. I hope you have enjoyed reading about electronic dog doors and like our choices of doors.