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Ideas For Doggie Doors: Everything You Need to Know

Close-up of tan door with a black doggie door.

Our dogs are valued family members, and just like us, they have their wants and needs. Many dog owners will agree that having to go outside to run, jump, play, and potty are their pup’s top priorities.

To make things easier as a pet parent, you might consider installing a doggie door. A bit of a splurge (but so worth it), a pet door allows your dog to go in and out of the house by themselves, giving them more freedom and you more flexibility. Let’s break down some of our best ideas for doggie doors and doggie door installation tips.

Are Doggie Doors Safe?

As long as you've made sure the area around your doggie door is secure with something like a fence, installing a doggie door in your home should be safe and a great way for your dog to navigate the place they call home without assistance. 

How Big Should a Doggie Door Be?

Every doggie door situation is different and dependent on the size of the pet. Generally, experts recommend that when you install a doggie door, you make sure that it's at least one inch taller than the highest point of your dog's back with the same concept applying to the width of your furry friend. 

golden retriever walking through doggie door

The Dos and Don'ts of Doggie Doors 

Purchasing and putting together a doggie door may seem simple, but there are some big decisions you can make for a more worthwhile addition. Here are our top doggie door tips: 

DO: Buy a door that’s appropriately sized for your dog.

Buying a door that’s too big can be intimidating for your dog. Conversely, they can get stuck trying to go through a door that’s too small. Instead, buy one that’s the smallest size necessary to let your pet comfortably move in and out. Measure the dog’s height when standing and calculate the distance between the floor and the top of the dog’s shoulders. Your pet will automatically duck their head and lift their feet when using the doggie door. For the width, estimate how wide open a regular door needs to be to allow your pet to walk through without rubbing against its sides. Dog doors usually come in four sizes based on the amount of weight they can accommodate. When installing the door, allow a two-inch clearance between your dog’s height and the top of the opening for a comfortable fit.

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DON’T: Skimp on security features.

Let’s face it: a doggie door can make your home vulnerable to break-ins. The bigger the door, the easier it is for humans to pass through. To protect your home and the people and pets within, spend a little time and money on security features, like locking mechanisms. Take a moment to think about what issues you might encounter with an unsecured pet door, then find a door that offers at least a locking system or access restriction. While most doors come with locking covers, you can also supplement them with something more secure, like an all-steel combination lock door cover or a sturdy charley bar for sliding glass dog doors. 

DO: Consider high-tech doors.

Nowadays, doggie doors are much more than the simple flap-open type. Technology has improved our lives, and the lives of dogs, too. Today’s dog doors are smart and can operate electronically or automatically. Some may include sensors that can communicate with a radio-frequency identification (RFID) fob on your dog’s collar to open. Others may even be able to use your dog’s microchip for identification and access. And that’s not all. Electronic doggie doors may be programmed to restrict and allow access during certain times and can be fitted with a contact or motion sensor that connects to your smart home system and alerts you when the door is in use.

DON’T: Install a door in a highly visible location.

It should probably go without saying, but letting everybody and your dog know that you have a doggie door can be a security risk. Discourage intruders by installing your dog door in a discreet location that’s not easily viewable by strangers. Most people install their dog door on a back door that leads to an enclosed yard. Get creative and install a wall-mounted dog door that’s surrounded by bushes or a garden to make it less noticeable. Or build an outdoor doghouse with a wall-mounted door to keep the entry hidden.

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DO: Use the locks.

It’s one thing to have locks on your doggie door, but it’s another to actually use them. So often, people forget or don’t know how to use the locks. Locks are there for security purposes but have added benefits, too. Small children may be tempted to use the door for fun, and other animals, like raccoons and squirrels, might also take an interest in the just-my-size feature. Learn how to use the locks and remember to take advantage of them —especially at night and when you’re  away.

DON’T: Forget to train your pet how to use it.

Some dogs may understand how to use their special little door faster than others. All doggie doors have different designs, so it’s important to know the temperament of your dog and the functionality of the door. A skittish dog might be wary of an automatic door that moves up by itself, while a confident dog may barrel through a flap door with too much gusto. Train your dog to use the door, first by making sure it’s at ease near it, then by praising and rewarding them as they go in and out. Pack your patience and be prepared to work with your dog to get the hang of things.

cat walking through doggie door

Think Twice Before Installing a Doggie Door by Yourself

Think you can install your doggie door by yourself? You may want to think again. Read our article, “When to DIY vs. When to Hire a Pro,” to help your ideas for doggie doors get professional help.