Pet Door Considerations - Sutton — Canadian Real Estate Listings & Agents |

Pet Door Considerations

28 September 2018

Dog Door Pitfalls and Innovations

For our furry friends, a dog door equals freedom. No longer do they need to wait until their human returns home for them to go outdoors. This is a convenience for pet and owner alike, but it also comes with potential pitfalls. Before you invest in a dog door, review the following pros and cons. If you decide to proceed, there are inventive options for enhanced security and weather-proofing.

Pros of having a dog door:

  • In case of a fire, your dog can escape to the backyard.
  • Dogs generally need to relieve themselves every five hours (more often for puppies and senior dogs); a door saves time and effort for the owner.
  • Rather than becoming bored and possibly destructive indoors, your dog can play in the fresh air and sunshine.


  • If you have a cat, it may use the dog door. Once outdoors, cats can easily climb over fences, where they may encounter traffic and predators. Alternately, cats become predators, bringing home dead mice and birds.
  • Depending on the size of the door, burglars may try to crawl through it.
  • Fencing is required to ensure your pet’s safety. In areas with coyotes and deer, the fences should be tall and sturdy.
  • Birds of prey have been known to snatch unsupervised small dogs and puppies.
  • Your dog may bark excessively in the yard when you are not home, which can upset the neighbours. (It is a good idea to regularly check in with your neighbours to diffuse tension.)
  • Thieves have been know to steal puppies and expensive breeds from backyards.
  • An unfenced pool can be a hazard for a dog as well as unsupervised children.
  • Racoons and rodents may try to crawl through the dog door.
  • If you have a microchip-activated door and the batteries die, your dog could be trapped indoors unable to relive themselves, or outdoors in the cold or heat.

When weighing the pros and cons, consider your specifics: the yard, proximity to neighbours, breed of your dog, and its temperament. You may decide not to install a dog door, instead choosing to use day care, or hiring a walker. However, if your situation is suitable for a door, there are many options.

Dog dogs have one flap or double flaps to help keep out wildlife and insects, heat and cold. Many products have magnets on the flaps to form a tighter seal as well as a locking, indoor security door to prevent unwanted entry.

Dog doors are most commonly installed in a door, but there are also models made for windows, sliding doors and walls. For example, for sash-style windows that slide up and down, you can insert a panel with a built-in door in the bottom of the frame. The panel expands to fit various size window frames.

Another choice is a sliding glass door with a built-in dog door. The product comes as a complete unit, so homeowners simply replace their existing sliding door. The frame is available in a choice of colours and the door/flap area in different sizes.

Cutting into a wall to install a dog door may seem daunting, but there are benefits, namely security. If you have a large dog requiring a large dog door, that access point may attract burglars. By installing a dog door in a wall, you can cover the opening with bushes, or even a dog house that has a hole cut in the back. Wall models are available in varying depths to suit different wall depths. The best products are those with solid construction that prevent water from dripping into the wall cavity.

Electronic (microchip) doors

Electronic pet doors require a collar key (or microchip on the dog’s collar) to open. Electronic doors are reasonably good at preventing wildlife from accessing the entry point. Cats, however, may discover they can simply wait by the door for Fido to open it. The main concern with electronic doors is when the battery dies, the dog will either be trapped indoors or outdoors.


Most cats are eager to explore outdoors, where they can encounter coyotes, aggressive dogs and traffic. Behavior modification is often effective. When the cat approaches the dog door, spray it with water from a squirt gun or spray bottle. Noise is also a good deterrent; have someone stand outdoors, just out of sight of the dog door. When you see the cat head for the dog door, have the person outside bang loudly on a pot. Eventually the cat will associate the door with unpleasant experiences and choose to stay indoors.

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