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The Ultimate Guide to Dog Doors: Going In and Out As They Please!

Dog ownership can be quite a bit of work – plenty of folks would say it’s just a step or two below human parenting!

For fur parents, it’s always nice to find helpful hacks that make it easier to take care of your pup. One great way to accomplish this is by installing a pet door.

Pet doors alleviate the need for you to stop what you are doing to let your dog out when nature calls. You can rest comfortably, knowing that she can come back inside without any help, once she’s ready.

Additionally, this provides your dog with the chance to stretch her legs or keep tabs on the local squirrel population (they’re clearly up to no good), when she wishes.

Dog Door Our Rating Best For Price
SureFlap Pet Door    High Tech & Programmable  $$$$
Ideal Pet Ruff-Weather Pet Door    Energy Efficiency  $$$
PetSafe’s Freedom Sliding Glass Pet Door    Easy Sliding Door Installation  $$$$
BarksBar Plastic Dog Door    Simple & Affordable  $

Basic Dog Door Styles

Pet doors come in a few different styles, each of which is best suited for different situations, owners and dogs. The most common styles include:

Door-Mounted Pet Door – The most commonly used pet doors are designed to be mounted in the lower portion of a standard door. These are what most people envision when they hear the phrase “pet door.” Different models work best with different types of doors, so be sure to review the manufacturer’s recommendations before making your selection.

Wall-Mounted Pet Door – Wall-mounted pet doors are designed to be installed into a hole cut into a wall, rather than a door. These are typically thicker/deeper than door-mounted models, rather than a relatively thin door. Nevertheless, they are difficult to install, and you’ll need the requisite skills and tools for the task before selecting this style pet door.

Electronic Dog Doors – Electronic dog doors vary widely. Some open and close automatically, while others are passive units, designed to restrict access through programming options, or when they are triggered by a small RFID chip attached to your dog’s collar. Electronic doors are typically designed to be installed in standard home doors, rather than walls or glass doors.

Sliding Door Dog Doors – Some doggie doors are designed to fit into the gap created by a partially opened sliding glass door. These designs are often easy to install, but because they include a full-length section of the glass door, they are also somewhat more expensive than many door-mounted units. They’ll also make your existing sliding door inoperable for humans.

Your home’s layout and family’s lifestyle are the most important factors to consider when choosing the style that will work best for you. Most of the styles available will work for most dogs, provided that they are available in the proper sizes.

doggie doors for house

Important Features to Consider When Choosing a Dog Door

After deciding which doggie door style will work best for your home, you can move on to additional considerations, which will inform your ultimate choice. These include things like the materials used in the construction and the ease with which they can be installed.

Materials

Dog doors and frames are made of varying materials, although most are made from aluminum or some type of plastic.

Aluminum products are generally more likely to last longer, although premium plastics are often adequately strong – particularly when used in the production of small pet doors.

Installation

Some dog doors are easier to install than others are. Some can be installed in a few minutes with no tools or any skills to speak of, while other require copious amounts of both.

In the case of door- or wall-mounted units, you will have to cut a hole through the door or wall, and then assemble the door and affix it appropriately. For many owners, a professional will need to be hired for the installation (if this is your first time cutting a hole in your house, we wouldn’t recommend having at it alone)!

On the other hand, sliding-door-mounted pet doors are relatively quick and easy to install, and few tools (if any) are needed for the process.

Insulation

It is important to remember that your dog door will serve as a way for the air in your home to intermingle with the external environment. Even when the door is in the closed position, a thin piece of aluminum or plastic will not insulate your home as well as a door or wall will. This is especially important for owners living in extremely warm or cold climates.

Some pet doors try to make up for this fact by including two or three doors or flaps, rather than a single one. This helps to trap air inside the door cavity, which will insulate the door. Still, if energy efficiency is important to you, it’s worth considering how a dog door will affect the heating or cooling of your home.

Security

Pet doors do provide an additional entryway into your home, so you’ll also want to consider the security implications when selecting a design.

Most high-quality units feature some type of locking mechanism, which prevents criminals or unauthorized animals from entering the house. However, you can only engage the lock when your pet is safely inside, which decreases the value of the door in the first place, since the key benefit is consistent in-and-out access for your dog.

One way manufacturers have tried to address this problem is through the use of smart doors, that read a microchip on your dog’s collar. Such doors only allow your pet to enter, while keeping out the neighborhood riff raff. Additionally, some such units are programmable, enabling you to deny your pet entry or exit at some times, while allowing them to travel freely at others.

10 Best Dog Doors To Give Fido His Freedom!

The following doors are some of the best options for dog owners:

1. PetSafe SmartDoor Plus Dog Door

About: The PetSafe SmartDoor Plus is high-quality, electronic pet door that gives owners the chance to program when their pet is able to pass through the door, as well as preventing unauthorized animals from entering the home.

This unit comes with a completely programmable timer to allow entry-only, exit-only, both entry and exit, or no access at all, during various points of the day.

NOTE: This unit has been reportedly having major issues – we do not recommend buying this unit until it has been updated.

Installation Difficulty: Medium

Price: $$$$
Our Rating: 

Features

  • Highly secure against unauthorized intruders; resists up to 100 pounds of pushing force to keep out the uninvited
  • Works with up to 20 individual SmartDoor Plus keys for homes with more than one dog
  • Comes with a cutting template to make installation easy
  • Optional wall-mount kit available, so you can mount the door wherever makes most sense for your home

PROS: Thanks to its RFID-chip reading capabilities and extensive programming options, the PetSafe door is perfect for owners who value flexibility and convenience. For example, you could allow a trustworthy dog to enter and exit at will, while keeping a mischievous pup inside when unsupervised.

CONS: The PetSafe SmartDoor is somewhat small, and is unsuitable for large or giant dogs. Additionally, while it has been well-received by most owners and includes several valuable features, it is one of the more expensive options available.

Dimensions / Sizes

  • Small (for pets under 25 pounds): Opening – 7 1/8″ x 8 1/4″, Frame – 11 3/4″ x 15″, Cut Out – 10 11/16″ x 12 1/8″
  • Medium (for pets up to 50 pounds): Opening – 9 5/8″ x 13 1/4″, Frame – 14 1/4″ x 20”, Cut Out – 13 1/8″ x 17 1/16″
  • Both models work for doors between 1 and 2 inches thick

2. SureFlap Microchip Pet Door

About: The SureFlap Pet Door is a microchip-detecting door that only allows authorized dogs to enter or exit your home.

Additionally, you can program the unit to operate in different modes (let dog out only, let dog in only, or lock door) at different times of day, allowing you to customize its operation to suit your pets and lifestyle.

Installation Difficulty: Medium

Price: $$$$
Our Rating: 

Features:

  • Each door can be programmed to recognize as many as 32 different pets
  • Compatible with wall-installation by using SureFlap Tunnel Extenders (not included)
  • Flashing lights warn you when the C batteries (not included) require replacement
  • Compatible with all major microchip formats, in addition to the included collar tag
  • Available in both white and black

PROS: Because it is able to recognize the RFID chip in the included tag you’ll place on your pet’s collar, the SureFlap Pet Door is a great choice for owners who want their dog to be able to enter and exit the home easily, without allowing every stray from the neighborhood to come inside. In fact, the unit has even been tested by zoos to ensure it is raccoon-proof.

CONS: Unfortunately, the SureFlap Pet Door does not allow you to control which dogs exit the home – any of your pets can open the door from the inside. Accordingly, owners seeking the greatest levels of control and flexibility may be better served by other options. Another downside is that the SureFlap is only available in one, rather small, size.

Dimensions / Sizes

  • Frame: 10.31 x 11.06 x 0.39 in / Flap: 7″ wide x 6.69″ tall

3. High Tech Pet Power Electronic Dog Door

About: The High Tech Pet Electronic Pet Door is an automated dog door that allows you to determine when the door will open (again, can be programmed to only let dog exit the home, enter the home, or lock the door totally).

It also offers a number of other interesting and helpful features, such as automatic deadbolt locking and directional sensing, so that the door knows when your dog is approaching (rather than simply walking by or sleeping beside the door).

The sliding door is not only effective, but very cool to see in action. This unit also boasts an air-tight seal that provides superior insulation.

There are also some nifty safety features – the door only closes by gravity force only, closing with a maximum weight of 2lbs (the door’s weight), no additional force.

The door also has a sensing system that automatically raises the panel if the door hits any kind of obstruction on it’s way down.

Installation Difficulty: Medium

Price: $$$$$
Our Rating: 

Features:

  • Pairs with Ms-4 ultrasonic waterproof collar (included)
  • Motorized translucent door made of bulletproof, military-grade resin to prevent breakage in heat or cold
  • Motor-driven door opens automatically when your pet approaches
  • To prevent it from opening unnecessarily, the door only slides open when your pet approaches it perpendicularly
  • Works with either AC adapter or optional rechargeable batteries (not included)
  • Door closes under gravity power alone, therefore ensuring safety

PROS: The High Tech Powered Pet Door is one of the most flexible units available on the market. In addition to giving you the chance to program the unit in many different manners, you can even alter the distance at which it will recognize your pet’s collar. The unit is also airtight, which prevents drafts and ensure your home stays well insulated.

CONS: Unfortunately, despite the overall flexibility of the unit, it cannot be programmed to operate differently for each pet in your home. Some owners complained that the collar was somewhat bulky, which may be a problem for smaller dogs or cats.

Dimensions / Sizes

  • Medium Model (for pets up to 30 pounds): 8-1/4” x 10” tall panel, 12” wide, available in several heights
  • Large Model (for pets up to 100 pounds): 12-1/4” wide x 16” tall panel, 16” wide, available in several heights

4. Ideal Pet Products Aluminum Modular Patio Dog Door

About: The Ideal Pet Modular Pet Door is a great option for owners who want to let their dog come and go more easily, without having to engage in a major construction project during the installation process.

This door simply fits into existing sliding doors, with an adjustable height and a flap made to fit pets up to 90lbs.

Installation Difficulty: Easy

Price: $$$$
Our Rating: 

Features:

  • Modular design allows users to slide the door right onto an existing aluminum patio door track
  • Adjustable height ensures the door fits frames between 77-5/8″ and 80 3/4″
  • Four different flap sizes available to fit pets of different sizes
  • Comes with free installation video

PROS: Modular design makes installation a snap – no power tools needed. Most owners report that the Ideal Modular Door is easy to install, functions well and is sturdier than they initially expected. Comes with locking mechanism to keep the door secure, and a removable panel to remove access to the flap when necessary.

CONS: Does not work with vinyl sliding door tracks. Additionally, some owners complained that their dog needed a larger size flap than they originally thought, so be sure to err toward purchasing the larger size if you are unsure.

Dimensions / Sizes

  • Cat Flap, 6.25″ x 6.25″ Flap Size
  • Small, 5″ x 7″ Flap Size
  • Medium, 7″ x 11.25″ Flap Size
  • Extra Large, 10.5″ x 15″ Flap Size

5. PetSafe Freedom Patio Panel Sliding Glass Pet Door

About: PetSafe’s Freedom Sliding Glass Pet Door allows owners to give their dog a chance to enter and exit the house conveniently, and it is easier to install than traditional dog doors are.

Simply place the panel in the track of your sliding door using the included hardware to fasten the door in place. No cutting required!

The single flap and aluminum panel design should provide enough energy efficiency for some homes, but may not pack enough weather-proofing punch for cold climates.

Installation Difficulty Level: Easy

Price: $$$$
Our Rating: 

Features

  • Includes magnetic flap with latch kit for keeping the flap closed when necessary
  • Frame includes weather stripping to help keep your home’s temperature comfortable
  • Door panel available in two adjustable sizes: 76 13/16″ to 81″ tall and 91 7/16” to 96” tall
  • Available in three colors to match your home: white, satin and bronze
  • Several sizes available based on the size of your pet

PROS: Most owners are satisfied with the PetSafe Panel Door.. finding it easy to install and appreciating the security lock that comes with the unit. This is also one of the few panel-style pet doors that is available in this many sizes and multiple colors.

CONS: Some dog owners reported that the single-pane construction of the PetSafe Sliding Glass Pet Door was problematic in very cool climates, letting in chilly air. However, this should not be a problem for most owners living in areas with moderate temperatures.

Dimensions / Sizes

  • Small Flap Size: 5 1/8” wide x 7 ½” tall
  • Medium Flap Size: 8 1/8” wide x 11 ¼” tall
  • Large Flap Size: 10 1/8” wide x 15 3/8” tall (4 ¼” from bottom)
  • Large-Tall Flap Size: 10 1/8” wide x 15 3/8” tall (8 ¼” from bottom)

6. Ideal Pet Products Ruff-Weather Pet Door

About: The Ideal Pet Ruff-Weather Pet Door is designed to provide excellent insulation, while still allowing your dog to come and go as she pleases.

This unit focuses specifically on superior insulation, promising great energy efficiency. Even if you don’t live in a particularly extreme climate, the Ideal Pet door is a high-quality, reliable product that is built to last.

This door comes in several sizes to accommodate differently-sized pets

Installation Difficulty: Medium

Price: $$$
Our Rating: 

Features

  • Structural foam frame is strong, secure and rugged to ensure this door will withstand years of use
  • Dual-panel design traps 3 inches of air to help insulate your home and reduce your energy bills
  • Telescoping internal frame fits most common doors and optional wall-kits are available (not included)
  • Limited lifetime warranty provides extra peace of mind

PROS: The Ideal Pet dog door is one of the best-rated dog doors around, and most owners rave about their quality. They appear to not only work well as a typical dog door, but most owners report that they also prevent drafts and splashing water.

CONS: Some owners reported difficulty with the installation procedure, but most have positive experiences, earning the Ideal Pet Door good praise..

Dimensions / Sizes

  • Small Flap Size (for pets up to 12 pounds): 5″ wide x 9.25″ tall
  • Medium Flap Size (for pets up to 25 pounds): 7.25″ wide x 13″ tall
  • Extra Large Flap Size (for pets up to 90 pounds): 9.75″ wide x 17″ tall
  • Super Large Flap Size (for pets up to 120 pounds): 15″ wide x 23.5″ tall

7. Perfect Pet All-Weather Energy Efficient Dog Door

About: Perfect Pet’s All-Weather Dog Door is a simple, efficient dog door giving you pooch much-deserved freedom. This unit creates an air pocket between the unit’s double vinyl flaps, which helps to keep your home’s temperature from fluctuating wildly.

In addition to the double flaps, the unit also comes with a sliding panel that can be lowered in the evening to keep your dog inside.

Installation Difficulty: Medium

Price: $$$
Our Rating: 

Features:

  • Frame is made from structural foam plastic to ensure a long product life
  • Includes a rigid panel that slides into place, so that you can keep your pets from accessing the door when necessary
  • Optional wall kit allows you to trap up to 9 inches of air which creates an unmatched buffer for your home
  • Relies on double vinyl flaps for insulation

PROS: Owners looking for a rugged, dependable dog door will be well-served by Perfect Pet’s All-Weather Door. The double-flap design is great for helping to control your heating and cooling bills, while still allowing your pet the kind of freedom she deserves.

CONS: The majority of owners report that they obtained great results from the Perfect Pet All-Weather door. However, some owners reported that the sizing guidelines were on the small side, and they recommend purchasing a larger size than you’d think you need.

Dimensions / Sizes

  • Small Flap Size (for pets up to 15 pounds): 5″ wide x 9.25″ tall
  • Medium Flap Size (for pets up to 35 pounds): 7.25″ wide x 13″ tall
  • Extra Large Flap Size (for pets up to 90 pounds): 9.75″ wide x 17″ tall
  • Super Large Flap Size (for pets up to 120 pounds): 15″ wide x 23.5″ tall

8. PetSafe Extreme Weather Door

About: PetSafe Extreme Weather Door was engineered to be one of the best-insulated dog doors on the market, using a 3 flap system and claiming to provide about 3 ½ times the insulation than single-flap designs provide.

This unit offers a manual snap-on closing panel to keep dogs out – it’s not quite as fancy as the programmable systems other units offer, but it gets the job done.

Installation Difficulty: Medium

Price: $$$
Our Rating: 

Features:

  • Three-flap design, including an insulated center flap to help keep your home’s temperature from fluctuating
  • Plastic frame is paintable, enabling you to match its color to that of your home
  • Magnetic latch keeps the flap from swinging freely, while still yielding easily enough for small pets
  • Available in small, medium and large, to suit most pets

PROS: The PetSafe Dog Door is a high-quality pet door that is a great choice for dog owners living in extremely warm or cold climates. Since this unit is one of the few products in the category whose color can be customized, it is ideal for those who place a lot of emphasis on their home décor.

CONS: Some users report that the PetSafe Door is not easy to install, although other users have found the installation to be simple and straightforward. Additionally, some users expressed concern that while the snap-on closing panel keeps your dog from exiting the home, it is not strong enough to keep humans or animals out.

Dimensions / Sizes

  • Small Flap Size (for pets up to 15 pounds): 5 1/8” x 7 ½”
  • Medium Flap Size (for pets up to 40 pounds): 8 1/8” x 11 ¼”
  • Large Flap Size (for pets up to 100 pounds): 10 1/8” x 15 3/8”

9. BarksBar Original Plastic Dog Door with Aluminum Lining

About: BarksBar Plastic Dog Door is a no-frills pet door that allows you to give your dog more freedom, without having to spend a fortune.

It’s designed to allow your pet easy access to your home and yard, and, thanks to the quality components used in its construction, you can count on this unit lasting for a long time.

This unit features a telescoping frame coupled with a soft vinyl flap (with a magnetic closure). The self-locking panel can be slid down at night to prevent intruders or any canine nighttime excursions.

Installation Difficulty: Medium

Price: $
Our Rating: 

Features

  • Aluminum-edged, thermoplastic frame is attractive, rugged and ready for years of problem-free use
  • Includes removable, locking slide panel to temporarily prevent your dog from entering or exiting the home
  • Soft, flexible vinyl flap provides insulation while ensuring that your dog will not be injured by the door – even when passing through at warp speed
  • Includes easy-to-use installation template to help guide you through the cutting process

PROS: The BarksBar Dog Door is a fantastic choice for most owners seeking a functional, attractive and durable dog door, without any fancy features or electronic doodads. Most owners report that the door is surprisingly sturdy and well-made, despite its relatively low price.

CONS: Some owners have reported that rain and water penetrated their door, but this may be due to installation-associated user error. This should not be a problem for homes with awnings over the doors.

Dimensions / Sizes

  • Medium Flap Size (for pets up to 40 pounds): 7″ x 11.25″
  • Large Flap Size (for pets up to 100 pounds): 10.5″ x 15″

10. Dog Mate Medium Dog Door

About: The Dog Mate Dog Door (which is also available in small and large sizes) is a sleek, stylish pet door designed to provide your dog with an easy way to enter or exit the house as she wishes.

This door is made to perform the job desired, without including anything unnecessary that would inflate the price or complicate installation. While pretty basic compared to some other offerings, it gets the job done.

Installation Difficulty: Medium

Price: $
Our Rating: 

Features

  • Includes very sturdy locks to help prevent your pet from using the door when you do not want her to
  • Attractive styling makes this door more visually appealing in most homes than many similar products
  • Brush-sealed flap helps to prevent drafts and keep bugs and water outside

PROS: The Dog Mate Door is an attractive, yet affordable dog door that can help you provide your canine with easy access to the outdoors without having to break the bank. Most owners report that it works well and is relatively easy to install.

CONS: Some owners report small dogs having trouble pushing through the door, thanks to the strength of the magnet. However, this is easily overcome by placing some electrical tape over the magnet; the only problem with this solution is that it may allow the door to blow open more easily in the wind.

Dimensions / Sizes

  • Small Flap Size (for pets up to 14“ tall at shoulder): 7 1/4″ wide x 7 3/4″ tall
  • Medium Flap Size (for pets up to 18“ tall at shoulder): 11 3/8 wide x 13 ¾ tall
  • Large Flap Size (for pets up to 25” tall at shoulder): 12 ½” wide x 15 3/8” tall

Doggie Door Alternatives & Potty Solutions

If you’re considering installing a doggie door, it’s likely because you want to give your dog free access to the backyard. We think this setup makes for one happy pooch.

However, if you are starting to feel like installing a dog door is too big of a job, consider these ideas too:

Dog Doorbells. Dog doorbells are strings of bells that are hooked to your doorknob, allowing your dog to hit the bell to let you know he wants to go out. While you’ll have to train your pooch to use the bells (and heads up, some dogs decide that the bells work great as an instant attention-getting tool), they can be great for ensuring your dog gets let out when he needs to do his business. Of course, someone still needs to be home to let him out!

Grass Potty Pads. Potty pads are a nice solution when you want to give your dog a bathroom option, but he can’t be trusted to hold it on all day. Grass potty pads tend to be especially effective, as they use real grass, making it easy to teach your pup how to use them. Still, as with all pads, some training to teach your dog how to use the pads will be necessary.

Invisible / Electric Dog Fences. Invisible dog fences are another solution for letting your dog have free range of the backyard. They come in various designs (such as underground or radio) and range from affordable to splurge-worthy. And we promise – they really aren’t painful! See our full guide to electric dog fences here!

Dog-Friendly Screen Dogs. Getting a dog-friendly screen door can be another option if you want your dog to be able to go outside anytime. While some screens are simply designed to stop your dog from tearing apart the material, others use a magnetic closure that lets your dog simply push himself out into the yard (and back again). Of course this means leaving your house basically open to anyone, so it’s probably not the best solution if you’ll be gone all day.

***

As you can see, there are a number of options available for those in search of a quality pet door – as well as some decent alternative ideas. Be sure to decide the style that best suits your house first, and then compare the various models available before making your decision.

Have you ever installed a dog door for your pet? We’d love to hear about your experiences. Let us know what model you chose, and let us know how it worked out in the comments below.

About the Author Meg Marrs

Meg Marrs is the Founder and Senior Editor at K9 of Mine. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! She loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!

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