Ever been in a situation where you have to split your time between completing house chores and letting your furry friend go out or come into the house?
How about those times you are far away from home, but for the sake of your pooch, you have to find your way back just let them in or out of your house?
If you answered yes to either question, a dog door might be the solution to your troubles. Admittedly, there are a dozen other situations that will let you wish you had a way to give your dog the freedom to go outside and come in on their terms.
Whichever the case, a dog door’s primary role is to ensure you aren’t your dog’s doorman for life. Once installed, your dog will have the freedom to go out to your yard or compound and also come into the house as needed.
So, how do you find the best dog door? What options are best? Are there any other benefits of installing them?
We'll share all of our best buying advice for dog doors before, but first I'll share with you my fav picks!
Types of Dog Doors Available Today
Screen Dog Doors
Screen dog doors are ideal for those who would rather have a temporary entryway for their dog. You have the option to either install it on your existing screen door or buy a complete unit where the screen door has a built-in dog door. Its main advantage is that it’s more secure but you’ll have to tolerate the inconvenience of having to let your pup out manually.
Patio/Sliding Glass Doors
Just like screen dog doors, a patio/sliding dog door can be temporary. You can install it on your existing patio door frame or have it fixed semi-permanently onto it, which will require a little effort.
Storm/Weatherproof Dog Doors
Storm or weatherproof dog doors can be fixed on your insulated storm doors, meaning you don’t need to cut a hole in your main door. Expect to encounter different sizes and design- most are designed either with a single flap or security panel.
Wall-Mounted Dog Doors
Just as the name says, these doors are the type that are designed to be fixed on your wall. Where your door or window doesn’t seem to support the other solutions, this would be a great option to consider. Note that you will require professional help to have it installed.
Dog Door Reviews: Top 5 Dog Door Options
If you’ve done the research already, then you are aware that there are plenty of dog door options out there, each claiming to be the best. Taking our buying guide below into consideration and with help from fellow pet owners and experts, I was able to narrow down my list to five. Let’s begin.
- Petsafe Freedom Patio - Best Dog Door That Doesn’t Require a Hole in Your Wall/Door
- Petsafe Extreme Weather Door – Best For Bad Weather
- Sure Flap Microchip Pet Door – Best Electric & Secure Dog Door
- PetSafe Wall Entry Aluminum Pet Door – Best Dog Door for Walls
- Ideal Pet Products Designer Series Ruff-Weather Pet Door – Best Dog Door For Large Dogs
If you are after easy installation, you will love the fact that fixing this door in your home doesn’t involve cutting a hole into your door, but simply fitting it on the patio's panel.
Regarding strength and security, Petsafe used heavy duty aluminum framing as well as a shatterproof tempered safety glass to make the construction of the door solid.
That aside, when your pet leaves or comes through the Petsafe Freedom patio door, you do not have to worry about unwanted gusts of cold wind or draughts of warm air rushing through the door. This is thanks to a special energy-conserving system that comes with this dog door. It ensures that any heat or cold is kept outside.
Another thing worth mentioning is that the Petsafe Freedom door is adjustable from 76 13/16 inches to 81 inches. So, if you have several dogs of varying sizes such as a Daschund and a Mountain dog, they both can fit through the flap door with ease. At 4 inches from the ground, it allows smaller dogs as well as cats to take advantage of their new found liberty.
Overall, this pet dog door system is great for those who live on rented property. When it's time to move on, you can simply uninstall the door and take it with you to your next home.
Despite there being numerous dog door brands and types to choose from, the hassle changes when you narrow down finding a reliable dog door that can handle extreme weather conditions such as strong winds and wind-driven rain.
Not many doors are able to address the bad weather while allowing your pooch to come in and out as he/she sees fit. Yet that’s where the Petsafe Extreme Weather Door thrives.
Like most pet parents, I have to admit its construction is really thoughtful, especially when you consider how it’s engineered to withstand extreme weather. To make it firm, they made its frame from sturdy and durable plastic. So, despite the frequent moisture, the dog door remains strong over time as plastic is not susceptible to rust.
Energy conservation is key in any household and should be one of the key challenges when designing a dog door. The three flap system used on this product makes the door 3.5 times more energy efficient than the conventional single flap pet door. This applies to both extremes of a hot and cold environment.
In addition, the design also includes a snap-on closing panel. You can snap this panel on to lock the flap when you simply want your furry pal to stay indoors, when there’s additional weather resistance or during those times when you simply want to keep strays from coming into your house.
Also, the door is versatile and comes in three sizes: small, medium and large. You can have it installed on a wall or a door, which should be a breeze considering that it comes equipped with cutting templates for easy installation.
If you ever were presumptuous as to whether technology would ever have any application to pets, then you might want to rethink that. The SureFlap Microchip Pet door utilizes its unique identification microchip technology to identify your pooch and let him/her through the door while remaining impassable to any other unidentified stray that might be snooping around. How cool is that!
SureFlap Microchip Pet door is an ingenious innovation that brings the right balance between achieving freedom for your pooches and 'NO ENTRY' to strays or bad weather for that matter.
So how does it work--does your dog need to swipe a magnetic key card to check in and out through this pet door? Not at all.
This is because the SureFlap Microchip Pet door is accompanied by one RFID collar tag upon purchase. When your dog is wearing the tag and approaches the SureFlap door, the door is programmed to recognize the RFID collar tag and will then open automatically to let your dog in or out, and then close immediately once your pooch is in the house.
Although only one RFID collar tag comes with this dog door, it has more than enough memory to store a total of 32 different pet IDs. This means that the SureFlap is suitable for a home with more than one pet. Nevertheless, additional collar tags would need to be purchased for additional pets.
The size of the door is seven inches wide and almost seven inches high. This makes it suitable for both smaller dogs and big cats.
If cutting a hole through a door seems like an atrocity to you, then perhaps a dog door that goes through the wall might be more palatable. PetSafe Wall Entry aluminum pet door provides you with an option of installing the dog door on either side of the wall. You could opt to have it on the interior or the exterior of the wall depending on what you find convenient.
Walls can have varied depths and the installation can be trickier than it looks. The design of this dog door, however, has taken this into consideration.
The unit comes with a telescoping tunnel which allows you to make allowances for different wall depths ensuring that the door fits well into the wall despite thickness. The tunnel can comfortably accommodate wall depths of 4.75 inches all the way to 7.25 inches.
The door is strong, sturdy, and durable owing to the aluminum frame. The door has two replaceable flaps that help with energy efficiency by keeping out the heat and cold.
The hard part is usually getting the measurement right. So to spare you any issues, the unit comes with templates that make installation accurate and easy.
For walls that have unusual thickness beyond 7.25 inches, you can separately buy an extension kit that will allow you to extend further up to a maximum of 12 inches.
If you live in a region that suffers from extreme weather, the choice that you make for your pet door is vital. Extreme weather could range from very cold to very hot. This means that as much as you would like to provide freedom for your pet(s), you also want to keep the energy use as efficient as possible for such weather extremes.
The Ruff-Weather pet door is designed to cope with such conditions. It ensures that every house entry and exit of your furry buddy does not result in energy waste.
This dog door is equipped with two flaps that create an air pocket and better insulation for improved energy efficiency. Depending on how big your dog is, you can choose from four size options, starting from small all the way to super large.
The Ruff-Weather dog door also comes with a nine-inch inner telescoping tunnel kit that enables you to do a wall installation with ease.
Whether you have a huge or small mut for a pet, this is a dog door that respects size.
Dog Door Reviews - Buying Guide
Once you’ve made the decision to have a dog door installed for your furry friend, the next thing you will want to focus on is how to identify an option that will meet your needs and expectations. I would recommend you pay attention to the following:
Where Would You Like to Install It?
Some people prefer to have the door installed on the side of the house that opens up to the yard or lawn. Others will want to have it in their garage doors, walls, windows, storm doors, main doors, you name it.
Your choice should rely on factors like where you’d want your pup to go. For instance, if you’d love your pup to only roam around your fenced backyard, the best choice would be to have the dog door installed in the rear exit door.
Do you have an expensive door you don’t want to be ruined, live in a rented place, or have plans to resell your home soon? If yes, you may want to avoid the expensive options or the type that requires a hole to be drilled in your door/wall. Instead, go for those that cost relatively less and are easy to install.
Keep in mind that there are different dog door models designed to suit specific types of doors so always check the manufacturer’s recommendation prior to making a selection.
The Size and Weight of Your Dog
Dog doors come in various sizes, the most common variations being small, medium, large, and super large. Breeds such as Boston Terriers, Yorkies, Dachshunds or Pugs should be limited to small and medium doors because they are all small breeds.
But if your canine friend belongs to the large breed type, say a Doberman, German Shepherd, or Rottweiler, a large dog door would be a proper choice.
To be sure about your decision, take your dog’s measurement with regards to height and width, add an extra inch or two, and then begin your search. Not sure how to do this? Check out this guide by Wikihow.
Many dog doors also have weight restrictions, which the manufacturers mostly base on the size of the dog, so it’s a good idea to know your dog’s weight as well.
The Door’s Mode of Operation
Initially, we only had manual dog doors, but thanks to advancements in technology, we now have electronic/automatic dog doors.
Just as the word suggests, manual doors are the type that you have to operate mostly by hand. They are available in metal or plastic frames and usually comprise of one or multiple flaps made of plastic or vinyl to allow for greater insulation.
Unlike their automatic counterparts, they are simple and inexpensive and thanks to their versatility, you can install them on your door, wall, or windows. However, you have to train your dog on how to use them.
If not sure how to do it, watch the video below by an enthusiastic pet owner. You’ll probably learn a thing or two about teaching your pups to use a dog door:
Electronic dog doors, on the other hand, come packed with automation features, meaning supervision is quite minimal. Even in your absence, the dog will have an easier time moving in and out of the house because most of the locks come complete with a flap that unlocks or opens automatically when a dog bearing the smart key gets closer.
SureFlap Microchip Dog Door is a great example. Here’s a short video by the manufacturer demonstrating how it works:
You can install them on your wall, door, window, or patio. Unfortunately, they cost a little more, and because they have plenty of moving parts, prepare to maintain them more often as well.
One sure way to know that a dog door has the potential to last longer and serve you well is to look at the material used. If they are premium quality, tough, and weather and rust resistant, that would be a great place to start.
Metal and plastic are the most common materials you will encounter with regard to frames. Even though it’s a bit more expensive, metal is definitely more sturdy and will last longer compared to plastic.
As for the flaps, expect plastic or vinyl. Plastic might not be a great option if you own one of those energetic breeds; you would be better off with vinyl because it’s tough enough to withstand heavy damage.
Does the color, style, and design of the dog door complement the interior and exterior décor of your home? How about the finishing of your wall, door, or windows? I’ve seen a good number of pet parents buy a second and even third dog door because the previous shipment failed to match the interior design of their home.
To avoid this, pick out the color, style, and design carefully. Find out what the manufacturer recommends and if possible, seek the help of an interior designer.
Something that I tend to worry a lot about, and which I’ve seen most pet parents concerned about as well, is whether a dog door will have an impact on my energy costs. It’s obvious that if such a door is not installed properly or not designed to be energy efficient, there will be a lot of cold air gaining access into the home and this will raise the energy bill.
On the flipside, picking the best insulated dog door and ensuring it’s properly installed would eliminate situations where you have endure uninvited cold air or open the larger doors to let in air.
Generally, you’ll have to look out for several factors, in addition to those I’ve mentioned, just to be sure that the dog door isn’t going to raise energy consumption. Watch out for multiple flaps, double doors, the material used, and any other additional features designed to improve energy efficiency.
Drilling a hole in your wall or door might look like a bad idea as far home security goes because it’s an extra entryway into your house. But the good thing is there are actions you can take to ensure your dog gets the freedom he/she deserves without compromising the security of your home.
Already, the dog door itself has played its part. Given their small size, it’s not going to be easy for a human to get through them. However, if the size seems larger than usual, ensure the flap is designed in a such a way that a person will have a difficult time getting their hand through to find a key, let alone gain access into the house.
If you have kids around and the dog door opens out to the pool, an unfenced yard/garden, or stairs, always lock the door after letting your dog through. This will also help to keep birds or local wildlife from gaining access into your house.
If opting for a manual door, take some time to examine the kind of locking mechanism it has so as to establish which one would suit your needs. As for the electronic doors, this shouldn’t be a problem because as I mentioned earlier, they have a mechanism that enables them to lock and unlock themselves automatically only when the pet is close.
Next, let’s briefly look at the wide range of dog doors available for you to choose from.
From this review, it’s clear that a great dog door isn’t just one that can simply let your pup in and out of the house. Beyond that, the door should be strong, secure, energy efficient, the correct size, made of quality material, well-designed, and perfect for your other needs.
Fortunately, you have a number of options to consider now, each with special features that make them ideal for different situations and needs.
What’s more, many pet owners love them too. Even though you might run into one or two drawbacks, in most cases it will be an issue you can easily resolve and move on.
Liberate your dog and yourself today by placing your order now. Remember to always pick an option that suits the design of your home and to consider the rest of the factors we looked at earlier before adding the door to your cart.