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Doggie Doors


A doggie door is just what it sounds like. It is a small, dog-sized door that can be installed into one of your doors or walls, at your dog's height, to allow him to enter and exit the house unassisted.

A dog door lets your dog get outside for exercise and allows him to get back in to escape the elements. Needless to say, that is a lot more convenient for you, and it can be especially useful if you live with an old or a sick dog with poor bladder control, who cannot always wait until you are ready to let him out. But, of course, one of the best reasons for installing a doggie door is that it lets your dog get back in the house without having to bark to get your attention, so it helps you to keep the peace with your neighbors.

Where to Install Your Dog Door

In its most basic form, a doggie door is just a rectangular plate made of metal, rubber or plastic, that is hinged to the top of a metal frame. You just cut a hole in one of your outer doors or through an outer wall, and mount the frame into the newly cut opening. Then when your dog wants in or out, he simply pushes the swinging door open with his snout and steps through.

Most commonly, doggie doors are installed into standard wooden doors, but they can be just as easily mounted into glass doors, metal doors, aluminum panels, or the wall itself. Most experts seem to agree that it works out better all the way around if you install your dog's door directly into the wall, although, obviously, that is going to be a little more involved and cost you a bit more money.

Even if you do not own your home, a dog door may still be a good option for you. You can purchase an inexpensive human-sized door from a hardware store, mount a doggie door into it and use that until you move, at which time, you can simply remove your door from the hinges and put the landlord's original door back up. Or, perhaps your landlord would view a doggie door as an improvement to the property and would welcome your intention to build it into the existing door.

You can purchase a sort of extension that has a doggie door built into it, that can be attached to your existing sliding glass door. That kind of set up will allow your dog to get in and out without you having to cut or substantially alter your existing sliding door, which will remain fully functional, other than not opening quite as wide as it used to. So that is another option for you, even if you are a renter.

When selecting a room in which to place your dog door, you are well advised to keep in mind that canines are not real good about remembering to wipe their feet. So put your new pup portal in a room with flooring that is of a forgiving nature, because your dog's first few steps inside could leave tracks behind with you not there to see the mess in the making. Certainly it is better that he track linoleum than a valuable carpet that is not so easily swabbed off. It couldn't hurt to place a large mat by the dog's door, either.

Selecting a Doggie Door

Dog doors come in many styles and sizes to accommodate everything from a tiny mutt to a huge behemoth.

You can find them constructed from a variety of materials. Some are as simple as a plastic flap hinged to an aluminum frame, while others are built with double flaps to help insulate your house against hot and cold weather. Others contain magnets that increase energy efficiency and keep out insects by making sure that the flap snaps close after each entry or exit.

In order to keep other neighborhood animals from coming in through your dog's door, some doggie entrances are designed so that they can be opened only by a dog wearing a collar with an identifying chip built into it. Some even open automatically when they sense the approach of a chip-wearing dog.

You can find them cheap and simple or elaborately decorative, and with a price tag to go with it. You should be able to find a dog door to match your décor, including a sliding door attachment that will match your existing sliding glass door.

There are also dog doors available for the security conscious. In the way of simple, low-tech set-ups, you can purchase a door with a security panel that you can slide down into place to make it impossible for intruders to crawl in. But, of course, as long as the security panel is in place, your dog also cannot go in or out.

If you are looking for a more sophisticated set-up, you can buy an elaborate 4-way rotating deadbolt rig that will allow you to set your doggie door to one of four configurations. You can set it so your dog will be able come in, but it will not let him back out. Or conversely, you can set it so he can get out, but he cannot come back in. Or, you can configure the device to totally block passage or to allow Fido to come and go as he pleases.

Where to Make Your Purchase

You can purchase a doggie door at most large pet stores or at any home improvement center, or you can buy one online. The advantage to buying from a brick and mortar store is that you can take your dog along to make sure that the door is the right size. Whereas, when you buy online, you have to rely on measurements. Either way, whether you buy over the internet or go to a local store, remember that growing dogs have a way of getting larger over time, so buy for the dog he's going to be, and not for the puppy that he is.

How Much?

In the U. S., you should be able to acquire a doggie door for something in the range of $30 to $250, depending on how fancy you want to get and where you go to buy it.

How to Install Your Dog Door

I am of the belief that one should just hire a handyman. Who needs the aggravation? However, if you are a do-it-yourself type, or you are suffering from the delusion that you are a do-it-yourself type, you can probably achieve a successful installation using only the directions that come with the device.

If you need more guidance you can find a number of online sites that address the issue of how to install a doggie door, including one by Ron Hazelton.

The Dog Science Network also sponsors a course in dog training, featuring a free workshop in canine
, as well as an advanced course in obedience training, street safety, and watchdog work.

This page is part of Section One:
the Your Dog section of