Over the years, we've heard mixed reviews on doggy doors (always a draft in the house, security issue versus convenience), so for those of you who have one or had one back in the day, please weigh in!
[ Photo from Liberal Handyman]
Pets at Home
Once our dogs learned how to use the doggy door its been great! We don't have to rush home to let the dogs out, and they get more exercise by running in and out to bark at whomever walks by the house. In the winter it did get a bit drafty so we had curtains to help with the wind.At present we actually have 2 dog doors - one from the living room to the sunroom, one from the sunroom to the backyard. We plan to tear down the sunroom ( I call it the unsunroom b/c it does not get direct light, and has a wonderful view of concrete and the alley!) and in the summer keep the dogs outside during the day.We don't feel there is much of security issue b/c the door is very small, and the dogs barking is our alarm system.
Do kitty doors count?I use one, and thereby have the luxury of not needing a litterbox. There are various types -- some are more drafty than others. I use a magnetized version with a decent seal. The kitties wear a magnet on their collars which triggers the catch on the locking mechanism.The benefit of the locking mechanism is that the neighborhood tom-cat can no longer get in and spray in my house, and it keeps other critters out like possums, racoons.... and skunks. No joke! I no longer live in a rural area, but when I did, the cats seemed not to mind that hungry coons and possums came over for midnight snacks. If you're considering a tea party, take note: possums are very tidy eaters, but coons make a huge mess.
Oh dear! I once lived on the second floor apartment of a house, and one fine summer day, having left the patio door leading to the terrace open, I was completely caught off gaurd (read: startled s***less) by a couple of racoons that just walked right in! That was in a bustling metropolis. Rural or not, I would not have an open invitation for unwanted guests. Racoons have a lot of disease that you don't want near your pets, and a cornered racoon is not a happy racoon! Not to mention rats, roaches, and various other things that are drawn to pet kibble.
We have a 161-pound mastiff. If we had a dog door for him, we might as well just take the door off the hinges completely. I'd feel okay about one otherwise, but the unwelcome critter thing is bad -- I'm sure there are collars animals can wear to activate an automatic door, but I'm not big on forcing him to wear a collar all day, either.And JenM....your comment kind of scares me. I work at home, and I'd go ballistic if someone's dog was running outside to bark constantly all day. : /
I think someone makes a doggie door that is activated by a signal on the dog's collar. This could prevent unwanted critters.
We have a doggy door that we had specially made in a door that we ourselves designed. There is the plastic flap where the dog can come and go, but also a sliding door on the lower portion of the door that can be shut and locked. We love it. The dog can come and go as he pleases most of the time. We just use common sense when it comes to leaving it open when we're not at home. We close the doggy door at night when night creatures are likely to be foraging around. If it's a particularly cold day, we close it to prevent a draft. We don't have raccoons or critters that would be brave enough to enter the house where we live so we don't have to worry about that. And though there are mice and even rats out in the garden, in the 10 years that we've had the door up, they have never dared walk through the doggy door. (Too obvious an entrance perhaps?)
A friend's house was robbed via the doggy door. He has a medium sized dog and they must have gotten a small person or kid to crawl through and open the door. The prime suspects were the delivery guys that came a few days earlier.
We used to have a doggy door and loved it. We had the kind that is part of a panel that fits into your sliding glass door. Youâre right; theyâre not completely safe; my husband and I could crawl through the opening if we locked our keys in the house. But we lived in a pretty low-crime area; the risk was worth the convenience. Now we live up in the chilly white north and Iâm worried about the draft. Would it be possible to cut a backdoor into a doghouse and then attach it to the exterior of your doggy door, producing a sort of foyer for the dog to pass through? I imagine this would reduce the draft. Has anyone ever seen this?
I know someone whose toddler discovered that she could get outside this way. Luckily her mother was in the same room when she figured it out.
We have one for our very large white German Sheppard (the extra large was a lot more expensive but we had no choice) and smaller Hound mix. It is the deluxe model â there are magnets around the frame and a heavy, magnetized, rubber door-flap to insure a tight fit. The dogs really have to push to open it â the Shepard picked it up right away, the Hound struggled with it at 1st. Itâs no draftier then the rest of the old house. There is a locking mechanism that we can slide down if we ever wanted to. We are in rural MD and the dogs come and go as they please â even the cat uses it (she has to really ram it with her head â which is funny to watch). I donât think a raccoon or possum would ever enter the house with the dogs around. The Shepard seems to think of them as lunch.
I agree with DWF. I've spent considerable time training my dog not to bark! JenM sounds like she thinks the barking is cute. There is a dog down my street that comes bolting out his doggie door to scare the pants off of us every time we walk past. It's not cool, and not at all considerate.
It could be a security issue if you have a medium to large doggie door. My bf's house has a medium-sized door and he (tall and med build) and his roommate have used it when they've locked themselves out. It makes me nervous that one day they'll unexpectedly find someone/thing in their house.
I have a dog door and I live in a low crime area, so I don't worry about it. Plus my dogs would probably scare off most people. They don't bark often, so I don't think they bother the neighbors. They only bark when someone approaches the house, like most dogs in our neighborhood. I, too, like that the dogs get more exercise by running in and out. The like it too, I think. I have only had one experience with a critter gettin' in (it was a lizzard - I live in the South, things get in no matter what you do). If I lived in a more dangerous neighborhood or in the woods, with raccoons, I might rethink it though. I say it depends on your surroundings.
I think even if you have a small doggy door, I'd beware--there's no stopping someone from not necessarily crawling through one but from reaching in with their arm, or with a tool, to unlock the door. And, just because you have a dog, intruders can still get in. I used to watch "To catch a Thief" or something like that on the Discovery channel. It was amazing how they could infiltrate houses that people felt were perfectly safe. Dogs would literally just look at them and take the treat and wag their tails. So unless you're living with Kujo--beware!
i live with my sister and between the 2 of us we have 4 small dogs (3 are hers and 1 is mine). walking 4 dogs at the same time is a difficult task even for 2 people so having a doggie door is almost a nessesity for us. the dogs all learned how to use it fairly quickly. we live in a fairly rural area and have never had a problem with critters getting in. it does get a bit drafty on really cold, windy days. for us the pros far outweigh the cons.
Depending on the age at which a dog learns to use a doggy door, one of the biggest problems associated with a dog door can be this: the dog is never truly housebroken.Because the dog learns to go outside, when the door is not available (locked for security or weather-related reasons, nights in hotels, staying over at friends' places), the dog has no clue how to deal with a full bladder. Well, other than to pee in the house.Another potential problem with dog doors and multiple dogs can be dogs trying to go through the door at the same time (for instance, if they saw a squirrel or a cat in the backyard and felt obliged to give chase). This can result in injury to one or both dogs. (Voice of experience speaking on this one...damn squirrels!)
Maybe I'm just paranoid from the news and internet, but with a doggie door, I'd worry about people stealing your dog from the backyard or it somehow escapes, whether it was because you left the fence open, or someone opens it, or whatever.Or even worse, someone annoyed by your dog's barking would do something to harm your dog.
Our cat ran in and put the stunned rat he'd caught in his food dish. We put the rat in a box to take care of later and it revived. "No" to pets having total unsupervised access.
Wow! All this negative commentary regarding doggie doors. My experiences have been pretty positive overall.I first got one of those sliding-door doggie doors when I lived in a house, and though it worked out great at first, I think some neighborhood kids did some shenanigans over the fence of our yard, making my dog paranoid about going outside.However, after that, I moved into a few different apartments and as long as no one could climb into the patio/balcony area, the situation was pretty sweet and convenient, and I didn't have to worry about hurrying home to let my dog out to do her business. I'd just lay a pee pad out on the patio/balcony and she would do her thing.I currently live in an apartment with no patio/balcony right now, and I had to paper train my dog because when she gets stressed out she can't hold her bladder too well. I miss having a doggie door. :-(
By the way, to the commenter who mentioned that doggie doors ruins house-breaking, well, making your dog "hold it" is all fine and dandy until one day he/she gets diarhea.This has happened to me (there has been a bad flu going around LA), and my dog would go outside or on the pee pad. If this happens to a dog who's been taught to just "hold it," then the poop could be all over the floor, and you just have to cross your fingers that it's not on your favorite rug or white carpet.Just something to think about...
I am pretty sure I saw a doggie door that was unlocked when an inra red or ultra sonic remote (on the dogs collar) gets within a certain proximity to the door. That way the door is always unlocked for the dog coming in with the remote, any other time it is locked in place and cannot be opened.
I cut a hole in my very thick, 70 yr old door, put in a magnetic cat door, and a raccoon came in, ate all the cat food, climbed up to my window, defecated right in front of me, and climbed on top of the now open door. He jumped down the outside of the door, leaving poopy footprints all over it.After lots of bleach and a few choice words, we called the cat door company who promptly sent us another one, but it was as weak as the first. Raccoons got in, as we watched, giving us the eye; and my big cat, sans collar one day, got out. It wasn't hard to push open. We've since blocked the hole, sadly. Our big cat has since then learned to ring a chime on the front door when he wants to go out, which is handy, but not ideal.I'm very interested in the cat door that kimg924 uses.
Personally, I think they're great for the dogs. As for security, convenience etc, weigh it out. Bypass unwanted critters by getting collar activated doors. If the door is going to be the size that a 10 year old kid can squeeze through, then it is a security issue. Weigh your neighborhood, level of comfort. If your dogs unfriendly to strangers and big, that might deter potential intruders. Also, another trick is if you're going to have delivery people, meter readers, etc. and know the time, make a point of telling them you'll need to make sure your dog is secured in a locked room. Describe him as big and very, very protective. (okay, small yappy dogs in bedrooms won't cut it).
Yes they are a security issue but my main reason for not having a flap for either our cats or dogs has always been that you have no idea what they're going to bring in with them - I can't count the number of friends who have had furniture ruined by their pets coming into the house covered in mud, filth, and in some cases blood, and treking it everywhere - I'd rather only let them in while I'm there to take care of them
My dog love to dig in the mud. I'm afraid I'm come home to mud throughout my house if I installed a dog door. BTW, I think they make dog doors that require a sensor on the dog's collar to open... maybe helpful if you're worried about keeping the dog door unlocked.
Pet doors can be fantastic, as long as you're getting the right kind. For those concerned about security against 'bad guys': Most low-level criminals will find a different house if they see your dog door, because big dog door = big dog. The criminals who do break into your house by going in your dog door, are 'professional' ones. They will get into your house however they can, so you should be thankful they didn't break a window. For security against critters, get an electronic access door. There are cat versions that use their existing microchip, and ones that work with electronic RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), which is in a tag attached to their collar. The dog versions all work off of the RFID. For the ones concerned about drafts, sounds like you're getting the wrong pet door! Why not get a door with panels that are molded to form a ‘Thermo pane’ effect for excellent insulation, and edged with snug fitting, high-density, nylon pile weather seal to provide superior draft-proofing. Ideal for extreme climates, and a chew-proof alumminum frame.Pet doors can be installed in Doors, Walls, windows and glass doors. Visit www.petaccessdoor.com
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