Electronic Dog Doors

Kelly Roper

Electronic dog doors let pets decide when it's time to go outside.

What are Electronic Dog Doors?

Electronic dog doors are the modern solution for sending your pet outside without having to take him there yourself. Doggie doors have been available for a long time, but have generally been low tech with just a swinging flap to let Fido out and back in as he pleased.

These pet doors got the job done, but they weren't the perfect solution. They were drafty, and other animals could possibly come in unless you locked them manually, which defeated the purpose they were installed for; to give your dog full time outdoor access on his own.

The modern electronic dog door provides a solution to these problems and more, only opening when your pet needs to use it.

How Do They Work?

There are different types of electronic dog doors, but most operate by the same principal. The door is signalled to open by either an infra-red or magnetic electronic frequency transmission emitted from a collar or tag that is worn by your pet. After your pet passes through, the door automatically locks until the next use. Other styles use a remote control device that allows the pet owner to open the door as needed.

These doors may be powered by batteries and/or electrical plugs, and prices run anywhere from $40.00-$700.00, depending on the features of the unit.

Advantages Over Non-Electronic Pet Doors

  • Better control over who or what gains access to your home.
  • Magnetic weather seals improve insulation.

Styles Available

There are several styles of electronic dog doors to choose from and each offers further variations, depending on your needs.

  • Wall mounted - Installs into your wall and includes a small tunnel section.
  • Door mounted - Installs in an exterior door and requires no tunnel section.
  • Patio door mounted - Installs into your patio door frame, becoming part of the door itself.
  • Window mounted - May be installed in a glass window or panel, but it's best to employ a professional glazier to install it for you.

Variations

Swinging flap pet doors allow your pet to pass through when he pushes against it and are available in two styles:

  • A one-way swinging door allows your pet to push it's way out, but the door does not swing back to let him in again, so you'll have to let him inside when he's ready. These doors are useful for keeping most unwanted animals outside, but be aware that raccoons are capable of lifting the door to gain entry unless the auto-lock is employed.
  • A two-way swinging pet door gives your dog access in both directions.

Sliding pet doors automatically open to allow your pet to pass through, then slide shut and lock until your pet approaches the door to come back through.

Single access pet doors allow only one pet to pass through at a time. If you have multiple pets, but not all are allowed outside, only allow unrestricted pets to wear the signal tags. These doors aren't foolproof, but they can deter other pets from getting out, as well as help keep unwanted wildlife and stray pets from getting inside your home.

Choosing the Right Door

Style and Location

Obviously, the area you wish to install your dog door will play a large part in your selection. For example, the patio dog door is specifically designed to be installed with your patio sliding door but wouldn't be appropriate for a swinging door or wall installation. You'll also need to be sure the door opens into an area that gives your pet safe and easy in/out access, so location will therefore be the first factor to consider in your decision.

Pet Size

Ultimately, you'll want to choose a door size that will fit your pet when fully grown. If your pet is a puppy now and you're not sure just how big he'll be when he reaches adulthood, it may be best to wait until he reaches one year of age before measuring him for a dog door. Also be aware, that if your pet becomes obese at any point in his life, it will also make using the dog door difficult, if not impossible.

You'll need to measure the distance between your dog's belly and the top of his head, and then his width to determine the size of opening you'll need. For installation purposes, measure your dog's height from belly to ground to determine how high the door should be installed from the ground to allow your pet to pass through it without needing to crawl.

  • If you have multiple pets that will be using the door, it will need to be large enough for the biggest pet, and the installation height may possibly be adjusted to accommodate the belly height of smaller pets if the size difference isn't too great. If this isn't feasible, an additional, smaller dog door may be needed.

Compatibility with Electric Fencing

A dog already wearing an electronic collar needed for use with electric, or invisible fencing can still use an electronic dog door. Just attach the door's signal tag to the collar and your high tech pooch will be able to use both because they operate on different frequencies.

Training Your Dog

Some dogs will have no problem getting the hang of using a dog door, while others may be more hesitant. You will need to train your pet with great patience and lots of praise, so he'll associate the door with pleasant experiences.

You can try coaxing your dog to pass through the door by enticing him with a treat, or calling him to you. You may also try attaching his lead and gently pulling him through and offering a treat and praise once he's made it. Both of these methods work best when there is a familiar person present both inside the door and outside. Avoid forcing your pet before he's ready, otherwise he may injure himself during a struggle and possibly never want to use his door again.

A Word of Advice

No pet door can absolutely guarantee that other animals and even human intruders will not be able to gain entry to your home. The best you can do is to carefully compare different brands and styles to determine if there is an electronic dog door that will serve your needs.

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Electronic Dog Doors