Dog Doors: A Complete Guide

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Dogs are active animals and need plenty of space to run, play and explore in order to maintain good health and be mentally stimulated.

One way to ensure your pooch has enough freedom is to install a dog door. This will ensure that they have plenty of freedom to explore your outside space whenever they feel like it.

sliding glass dog door

By Unbiassed (public domain)

Dog doors are becoming increasingly popular with owners — particularly of large breeds — who want their dog to get plenty of exercise, without having to do much themselves.


As long as your yard is secure, you can’t go wrong with a dog door.

We’ve compiled this guide to everything you need to know about these products, as well as a list of the best dog doors on the market right now.

Let’s take it away…

What is a Dog Door?

You’re probably familiar with a cat flap which allows cats access to the outside without having to ask to be let out every time or scratching at the door.

A dog door follows the exact same basic principle, but obviously the door is larger than that for a cat.

How do they Work?

All types of dog door come in a variety of sizes to accommodate most breeds of dog, and can be installed in most types of door or wall from PVC to wood, or even metal.

There are various different types of dog door available to suit different needs.

The traditional ‘flap’ style (just like a cat flap), which is usually made from plastic and has one or more flaps through which your dog can pass to gain access to the house or yard. These are the most basic and usually the cheapest type of dog door on the market.

A hard plastic dog door is much the same, but it can also be locked if you don’t wish your dog to go outside, or if you are worried about security.

electronic dog door

By Aidras (CC BY-ND 2.0 licence)

This is a particularly useful feature if you don’t want your dog going outside while you’re out of the house or during the night.

For something a little more hi-tech, a magnetic or electronic dog door provide an interesting solution.

This kind of dog door works with a special collar that gives off a signal when your dog approaches which opens the door. This way you are sure that it is only your dog who can open or close the door.

As you can imagine, an electronic dog door is the best for people concerned about security, as well as owners with multiple dogs who don’t want them all getting out into the yard.


Should I Get a Dog Door?

Dog Door Pros

A dog door can be beneficial for a multitude of reasons.

The most obvious of these is to give your dog the emotional and health benefits of more liberty and space to explore and exercise.

For owners of dogs who have issues with incontinence a dog door can also be useful as your dog can let himself out whenever he needs — even in the middle of the night — without constantly disturbing you.

Likewise if your dog has to be left over long periods of time he can have access to the yard to relieve himself or play without being trapped in the home where he may get bored, yet he can also have access to the security of the home when he needs shelter.

Dogs who whine and scratch or bite to be let out can cause damage to doors and doorframes, so having a dog door installed can stop him from causing damage which then costs time and money to repair.

Equally if your dog suffers from separation anxiety or gets bored when in the home, he may be likely to destroy other items of furniture or soft furnishings which can be expensive to replace.

If he has access to the outside whenever he needs it that can reduce or eliminate the damage caused.

dog door

By Petdoors (CC BY-SA 4.0 licence)

Dog Door Cons

Of course, there are certain factors to bear in mind once you get a dog door. Unlike with cats, you definitely don’t want your dog escaping and exploring the neighbourhood on a whim.

That means that you have to be 100% confident in the security of your yard — make sure that there’s no possible way that your dog can escape through any gap in the fence, or be able to burrow their way out.

This is particularly important if you have a breed like a husky, who are known for their escape artist behavior.

Another aspect to bear in mind with a dog door is your home security.

Unlike a cat flap, which is small, some dog doors are large enough for a human to pass through — especially if you have a large breed!

We would definitely recommend getting either a lockable door or an electronic dog door in this case. They add an extra layer of security and should stop any wannabe burglars in their tracks.

One more thing to be aware of is that your dog won’t necessarily know how to use a dog door straight off the bat. They’ll likely need some training and plenty of encouragement.

Here’s a great video on training your pup to use the pet door:

Best Dog Doors

Here’s our guide to the best dog doors available on the market right now.

PetSafe Extreme Weather Energy Efficient Pet Door

dog door
Whether you are lucky enough to live somewhere very hot, or if you live somewhere very cold, the PetSafe Extreme Weather Energy Efficient Pet Door can give your pooch all the freedom he needs without compromising the temperature in your home.

This dog door features a layered 3 flap design with the middle flap being made from a special insulating material to keep extreme weather outside and your home correctly acclimatized. PetSafe claim that this unique system provides 3.5 times the energy efficiency of normal flap doors.

It’s available in three different sizes (small, medium and large) to suit dogs up to 100 lbs in weight.

Pros

  • Can be installed either in walls or doors
  • Made from robust plastic
  • Can be painted to fit in with your home color scheme
  • Comes with a plastic cover to block and close the door when necessary
  • Protects from wind, rain, snow, insects, and drafts
  • Sturdy once installed
  • Resistant up to Force 5 winds

Cons

  • The install can be tricky thanks to the cheap plastic screws
  • It’s a good idea to buy the additional metal cover for extra outside security

electronic dog door

PetSafe Wall Entry Aluminum Pet Door

sliding dog door
This is one of the bestselling dog doors on the market and it’s no wonder.

Created specifically for installation in walls of any material or very thick doors, the PetSafe Wall Entry Aluminum Pet Door can be used anywhere where the walls measure between 4.75 and 7.25 inches.

The sturdy aluminum frame is telescopic so it can be easily fitted to any thickness within the range. There are two door flaps to keep out drafts and a closing panel for when you want the door closed up tight. It’s well insulated — although if you do live in an extreme weather region, we’d recommend the PetSafe dog door above instead.

This dog door is available in small, medium and large sizes for dogs up to 100 lbs.

Pros

  • Perfect for thick exterior or even interior walls
  • Telescoping tunnel allows you to adjust the door to fit walls of different thicknesses
  • Stylish design
  • Useful when potty training
  • Easy to install
  • Eliminates drafts effectively
  • Includes non-rusting, locking closing panel

Cons

  • May require some minor modifications, such as a board or grip underneath for your dog’s paws

electronic dog door

PetSafe Freedom Aluminum Patio Panel Sliding Glass Pet Door

sliding glass dog door
Yet another PetSafe dog door, this sliding glass dog door stands out thanks to the clever design which allows this dog door to be simply slotted into any sliding door track without any permanent installation.

The strong, weather resistant aluminum frame supports both the entry flap and the tempered glass panels which keep the clean lines of your sliding glass doors whilst providing your pet with the freedom to come and go.

It’s available in two sizes and four styles: large, large-tall, medium and small. It’s suitable for dogs weighing up to 100 lbs.

Pros

  • Available in a choice of colors and sizes
  • Good quality product
  • Minimal installation required
  • Portable – can be used on any set of sliding doors
  • Very convenient and easy to use
  • Durable aluminium frame is weather resistant

Cons

  • Expensive

electronic dog door

BarksBar Original Plastic Dog Door With Aluminum Lining

petsafe dog door
If a PetSafe dog door doesn’t quite fit into your budget, this plastic product from BarksBar could be a great option. It’s certainly much cheaper.

Fabricated from durable plastic and robust aluminum, the BarksBar Original Plastic Dog Door is designed to last — it’s even chew resistant if your dog is prone to chewing.

It also features a transparent flap with strong magnetic closure for added protection from inclement weather, as well as an additional sliding panel that self locks for when you want added security.

This dog door is suitable for dogs of all shapes and sizes up to 100 lbs. It’s available in sizes medium and large.

Pros

  • Very good value for money
  • Clean, modern design
  • Removable self-locking slide panel allows you to restrict access to the door
  • Gives great weather protection
  • Also protects against bugs and insects
  • High quality construction
  • Very durable
  • Easy to install –the average installation time is just 25 minutes

Cons

  • Magnetic closure can be noisy

electronic dog door

Ideal Pet Products Ruff Weather Pet Door with Telescoping Frame

dog door
Another energy efficient design, the Ideal Pet Products Ruff Weather Pet Door features two well spaced flaps which create an insulating air pocket to help maintain the internal temperature of your home whatever the weather is like outside.

The telescopic internal plastic tunnel means that this dog door can be fitted to a wide variety of door thicknesses, and the tough plastic construction is durable and made to last.

This dog door come in four different sizes (small, medium, extra large and super large), and works well for pooches up to 90 lbs in weight.

Pros

  • Good quality product
  • Durable and long lasting
  • Efficient weather resistance
  • Insulates well
  • Comes with effective sliding security panel

Cons

  • Flaps may be a little heavy for smaller dogs and cats — they should master it with a little practice

electronic dog door

Dog Mate Medium Dog Door

cheap dog door
If you’re really on a budget but still want a dog door, this could be the one for you.

While it may not have the bells and whistles of some of the more premium products above, it certainly has all the basics that you need, including robust locking panels.

This medium sized dog door from Dog Mate has a simple but effective design specially tailored for dogs up to 18 inches in height at the shoulder.

It comes equipped with a lockable security panel, and whilst the plastic construction is solid, the entry flap remains lightweight and easy for dogs to pass through without difficulty.

The bottom of this dog door also features a line of brushes to ensure that no drafts get through once the flap is in place.

Pros

  • Very reasonable price
  • Good quality, considering the low price
  • Simple design works well
  • Provides a good seal against drafts
  • Brush sealed flap is also weatherproof

Cons

  • Can be a little tricky to install
  • Only suitable for dogs up to 18″ in height
  • The magnet is quite strong — it may take your dog a few goes to get through the flap

electronic dog door


Which is your favorite dog door?

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