Pawful Entry: What You Should Know Before Buying a Dog Door

Doggy doors come with a few caveats.
Doggy doors come with a few caveats. / TriggerPhoto/iStock via Getty Images

There are lots of reasons to love having a dog, but having to constantly run to the door when they begin to whine isn’t one of them. That’s why some pet owners opt for dog doors, a two-way flap cut into a door or placed into a sliding door opening that allows pets the freedom to come and go as they please.

It’s a novel idea, and one many canine caretakers have opted for. But if you’re thinking of adding a new entrance to your home, there are a few things to be aware of.

First and foremost: a pet door can admit both dogs and people. While a small door meant for smaller breeds likely isn’t going to permit a burglar to come inside, doors sized for larger breeds might. And even if they can’t physically climb in, a doggy portal may permit them to use an arm or tools to force open a doorknob or lock.

The second and more common concern is that a doggy door may permit passage of other animals, including raccoons, skunks, and other undesirables. For both reasons, that’s why some dog doors come with a security sensor that you can affix to your pooch's collar. The door won’t open unless your pet is within close proximity to the door.

Many of these devices can be disabled at night, when you’d prefer the dog stay in, or if you’re away from home. You can even install a physical lock on the door to keep it shut when both you and your dog are going to be out.

You may also want to consider doggy door placement. Putting it on the back of the home keeps it out of sight for anyone casing homes. Even better is trying to install it behind a bush or other object that keeps it obscured from (human) view.

Aside from unwanted intruders, you also want to make sure your doggy door is large enough for your pet. You can use a cardboard opening to make sure they can comfortably fit through the entrance without getting stuck or irritating their back. And before cutting a door to accommodate a dog exit, make sure the door can safely be altered. If not, consider one that fits onto a sliding glass patio door. With a little planning, a dog door can be a safe and effective way for a pet to get some relief and an owner to get some peace of mind.

[h/t Reader’s Digest]