Is a Dog Door Right for Your Home?
If you have a fenced-in yard, a doggie door can be a convenient amenity for your pet. It allows your four-legged friend to go in and out of the house as needed without getting you involved. This can be especially helpful if you are gone for extended periods during the day.
Getting a dog door may sound like a great solution, but before you buy one, there are some things you may want to consider.
Types of Dog Doors
Installing a pet door takes a bit of handy work, but it may be something you can do yourself. According to Consumer Affairs, there are multiple types of doors with varying levels of installation difficulty — though most aren’t too complex. DIY dog doors include:
- Sliding Door Inserts: Glass dog door inserts fit in the opening of your sliding glass door, screw into the frame and can be secured using the lock on your sliding door, says DoItYourself.com. The drawback of these inserts is their minimal insulation, says Consumer Affairs.
- Flap Doors: These doors are usually installed in a wall or door and include a plastic flap to block the opening. Consumer Affairs says some also have a cover you can slide over the flap to lock the door when you don’t want your dog to go out. The New York Times says you may be able to install the door yourself if you have a jigsaw.
- Electronic Doors: These are similar to flap doors in terms of installation, but technology helps provide added safety, says Consumer Affairs. According to the Chicago Tribune, the door can slide up and down or the flap can open when triggered by a computer chip or transmitter on your dog’s collar. If another animal (or person) without the sensor tries to enter, the door won’t open.
If the convenience of a dog door appeals to you, keep these safety precautions in mind to help prevent wild animals or potential intruders from gaining access to your home:
- Placement: The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) advises placing dog doors away from entry doors so the handle can’t be reached through the opening.
- Height: If your dog is large enough, install his door at least five inches above ground to prevent smaller animals from reaching the opening, recommends Consumer Affairs.
- Locking: No matter what type of dog door you choose, make sure you lock the door overnight. Most doors come with some sort of lock or sliding cover you can use, says Consumer Affairs.
- Security: NACHI suggests getting an electronic dog door if you are concerned about safety, as only your pet will be able to open it.
Energy efficiency may be another consideration as you decide whether a dog door is right for you. Since a pet door is an opening to the outside, it can let warm or cool air escape, the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE) says. This can lead to higher energy bills and perhaps an uncomfortable environment in your home.
Fortunately, the ASE says, energy-efficient, insulated dog doors offer an air-tight seal to help block air exchange. Or you can opt for dual-flap doors that offer an extra layer of protection, says BobVila.com.
A dog door can be a great convenience for you and your furry best friend. Before you choose one, though, make sure you do your homework and select the one that’s best for you.
Originally published on May 8, 2015.