Dog Door Buying Guide
What is a Dog Door?
A dog door is an insert that is installed in a door that allows pets to come and go as they please. They can be installed in screen doors, sliding glass doors (as inserts alongside the glass door) and regular wooden doors as well. They also come in a variety of sizes from small to super large. Dog doors add a level of freedom for your dog that enables him or her to go outside as they need to, rather than having to wait for someone to walk them or let them out. It’s a convenience that many pet owners really like.
Measuring Your Pet for the Right Door Size
It’s important that you get the right sized door for your dog. If it’s too small, he or she can either get stuck trying to go in and out or they can get scraped or injured. There is a good way to measure your dog so you know exactly what size door to purchase. We have outlined the steps for you below.
Don’t measure your dog from the ground to the top of their head. You only need to measure them from the ground to the top of the shoulder. A dog will automatically lower their head when they go through the door, so as long as it is tall enough for them to walk through comfortably without their back scraping the top they will not hesitate to go in and out the door once they learn how.
Make sure that you also measure how wide of a space you need as well. Most dog doors that are sold are sold with preset measurements, but they are fairly standard and work according to weight as well as height. When measuring width, you will not be measuring the actual width of the dog but the space that he can fit comfortably through. In general, a dog will not want to have to squeeze through a space, so ensuring that the dog door is wide AND tall enough will be important if you want your dog to enter and exit freely.
The rule of thumb is to choose measurements that are 1” wider than the widest part of your dog, but you will need to allow for dogs that have deep chests or are very muscular. While you don’t want to get a door that is way too large for the size dog you have, it is better to get a dog door that is a little too big than too small.
There are a few different styles of dog doors available on the market today. The most common of these is the flap door style. This style of dog door is mounted in a regular door or wall. The positive to this model is that it is generally the least expensive type. What some customers don’t like about the flap door is that they can’t prevent the dog from exiting or entering without blocking the door itself with something that prevents them from pushing the flap. It is also not very energy efficient and you can lose air conditioning or heating out the flap and around it as well, even when it is closed.
Another style of dog door is the automatic dog door. Automatic doors are really popular because they can be pet specific, work automatically with a chip that is in the dog’s collar. The door can also be signaled by an ultrasound transmitter or magnet that will signal the door to unlock.
One of the most popular features of the automatic dog door is that it can be locked to prevent the dog from going out, coming in or to keep out intruders. Automatic dog doors are much more energy efficient that the traditional flap style doors.
Having sliding glass doors in your home doesn’t mean that you can’t use a dog door. There are special dog door inserts that fit at the end of the patio door and they have the dog door at the bottom. You can opt for a professionally installed sliding glass dog door that is inset in the glass itself but these are much more costly.
Regardless of which type of dog door you choose, the most important part of purchasing one is getting the right size. When it comes to installation, you want the lower portion of the door that the dog has to step over to be as low as possible to prevent tripping or the dog bumping his head every time he enters or exits.
As a general “always” rule, the step over portion should never be taller than 1/3 of the height measured from the ground to the top of the shoulder. Tall rises can trip a dog and make them reluctant to use it.
The Best Place to Install the Door
Dog doors can be installed in a multitude of places. They can be installed in storm doors, garage doors, sliding glass doors, walls, main doors that go to the outside, and even in double hung windows. What determines the best location of the dog door is where you want your dog to be able to go. If you have a fenced in backyard, installing the dog door in the rear exit door or sliding glass door that leads to the back yard is perfect.
If you have a very expensive door and don’t want to ruin it with the installation of a dog door, or you rent a home or want to resell yours, you may want to consider purchasing a less expensive door to use temporarily. This enables you to put the fancier door back when you move or sell your home and there won’t be any lowering of the resale value of the home.
Teaching Your Dog to Use the Door
You may think that all dogs will automatically know how to use the dog door but this is not true. Some dogs may have no trouble at all and just go right through the door opening with no problem. Others may need some encouragement in the form of treats and praise. One method is to hold the flap or automatic door in the open position to get them used to simply going through the opening. After they are comfortable with that, you can lower it and encourage them to go through.
The good news is that once they have the method down, they will go through and come back in with no problem. Patience is the key. Forcing, punishing or yelling at the dog to get them to go through the door will only have negative effects. Dogs tend to be followers, so what you may notice is that one dog will go through with no problem and the other dog or dogs may need more encouragement. Seeing the one dog go through can sometimes be all the encouragement they will need.
You can also set their dog dish with their favorite food in it, either inside the dog door or just outside the dog door to encourage them to go through. They walk through and get their dinner; a win-win for everyone.
Dog doors can provide a lot of convenience for the dog owner and freedom for the dog. With all the styles and types available, there is a dog door for every situation and almost every dog. While there may not be a dog door for the extreme giant breeds, most sizes of dogs will have door sizes available that the pet owner can use.
Most are not difficult to install and have the instructions along with the door. In the event you don’t know how to install a dog door and are not very handy, you can opt for the simplest style and then upgrade to something more if you find someone to install it at a later date.
There are many benefits to installing a dog door. Aside from the freedom it gives the dog, it takes a lot of pressure off of the pet owner if they are unable to get home right after work or are held up in traffic. With a dog door, your pet can let themselves outside to take care of their business and then they can come right back in and be waiting for you when you get home.