Pets: Options for Doggie Doors

Any good dog owner wants to take the best possible care of their little (or not so little) friend. Having a doggie door allows your dog the more options for exercise and "bathroom breaks." There are a few things to consider when making the decision to alter your home (and in one friend's case, apartment) for a doggie door. In speaking with a company representative of Moore Pet Supplies, a 15-year-old business located in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, I learned a few good tips to consider before you buy or install your doggie door.

Do You Need to Have an Electronic Door?

Electronic doggie doors operate on a connection between a magnet on a collar your dog wears, and the electronics installed in a panel on the door that controls access. "People believe they have to have an electronic door for security," said the company representative. "In terms of security though, someone could just walk up to the door with a bag of fries and lure the dog out," he said.

The representative said however, that electronic doors are especially good for keeping out nuisance animals, such as raccoons and skunks. "Since these types of animals are nocturnal, you especially want to keep them out while you are sleeping," he said. The quality of security can also depend on the materials used in the security panel, whether plastic or metal, he added.

What is the Best Doggie Door Design for My Home?

The company representative said "the simplest design is generally the best design. Simplicity allows you peace of mind when you are not home," he said. "You want to be able to relax and not worry. I've heard of people losing their dogs to hawks, coyotes and even the cold due to a malfunctioning door," he added. He said that each of his customers brings a different set of considerations to the table depending on where they want to install the door and what breed of dog they own.

So, you want your doggie door to be functional for your situation. You want it to be secure, keep out critters you don't want in your home, and you will need to decide if the doggie door should be able to keep out the cold as well. The representative said that since they are located in Wisconsin, keeping the cold out is generally a consideration in most cases. "If the door goes into your house, you want to have a seal that feels like there is no door there at all," he said.

Where Can You Install a Doggie Door?

The short answer is anywhere. Depending on where you want to install your doggie door, and how specialized, you will spend between just over $100 to upwards of $500. They can be standard or customized and come with a variety of locking options.

  • Doggie doors can be made for any door thickness. 
  • Doggie doors can be installed in windows and sliding glass doors. The glass is cut to the appropriate size for your dog and a panel is inserted with the door in the center or off to one corner. The door can even be placed where there would be a pane of glass in a French door.
  • Wall models of doggie doors are made to the thickness of the wall and tend to be more secure and generally provide a better insulating seal against weather. Doors can be standard in-and out, "saloon door" style, or a dual-flap style.
  • Other places you can install a doggie door are screens, kennels, and garage doors.

What Size Doggie Door do You Need for Your Dog?

The company representative said, "Size and placement go hand-in hand." He said you want to have 1 1/2 to 2 inches from the top of your dog's back and have the bottom be low enough for your dog to be able to step through easily. "Older dogs or breeds that tend towards hip dysplasia sometimes can't lift their legs more than three inches," he said.

Last, the representative said that finding the right doggie door is "less a science and more taking into consideration what will work for you and your dog."

Cris Carl is a Networx - - writer. Get home & garden ideas like this - - on Networx.

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