No matter how much you love your dog, there comes a time when every owner is distracted from their current task by the dogs need (or want) to go outside. More often than not this requirement is to satisfy nature’s call, however next-door’s cat perched on your lawn will often evoke the same desire.
I know most of you don’t mind the short walk to the back door or take regular walks that often negate the need to keep an eye out for such signals. But what if you never had to worry about letting your dog out again? I bet that would raise some interested eyebrows? This is essentially what the installation of a dog door could mean.
An old concept, essentially the dog door works the exact same way as the feline equivalent. It allows your dog unlimited access in and out of your house more often than not to the back garden (although you could install it anywhere). Although the basic concept is well… basic, there are some key elements which you should consider before buying and installing a dog door; these are:
1. Size & height of door
The height and size of the dog door as you would expect, needs to directly reflect the size of your dog. The key requirement for ensuring your dog uses the dog door is comfort; if they do not feel comfortable entering and exiting the door then they simply will not use it. A rule of thumb is that the top of the dog door should be aligned with the dogs shoulder, it should also not be flush to the ground – but require your dog to step through it.
Most dog doors on the market are lockable, which means that in the evening or during periods when you don’t want your dog to go outside (or come inside) you can lock it. This is also a key requirement for preventing burglars from entering through this route. Although the locks on most dog doors are very secure, it is also worth ensuring that the actual door lock/handle cannot be reached through the dog door by a human hand. If you have a super large dog i.e. a Wolfhound or Great Dane you may also want to think twice; as a human could probably fit through there as well!
As with most products these days there have been pretty big technological advancements in the dog door market. The main one being automatic entry mechanisms, these automatic doors react to a signal transmitted by your dog’s collar and will open when they get close enough. These doors negate the need for you to keep locking and unlocking the dog door as they are in a permanent ‘locked’ state unless your dog wanders close by. There are two potential drawbacks to automatic doors; one is that at some point the batteries in your dogs collar will run out at which point they will either be trapped inside or out. The other is that your dog might trigger the door without actually wanting to go out, letting hot/cold air in/out.
4. Heat loss & insulation
Touched on above, there are often considerable insulation issues with installing dog doors. Typically their design doesn’t insulate your home as well as the door or wall you are making a hole in will. This will often lead to increased energy bills, which are obviously unwanted and thus be factored in to the equation.
Most dogs quickly pick-up and enjoy using dog doors quickly; however there are some instances where no amount of play, training or treats will encourage your dog to use their new door. It is worth thinking about this at the early stages of installation as although 99% of dogs will use a dog door there is no point installing your door if your dog makes up that 1%.