If you live in a house with a backyard or garden and want your dog to have free range to run and play, the best automatic dog door can be a great way to grant them this. Giving your dog access to the outdoors without you having to get up and let them in or out every time can be a great convenience, and these dog doors are easy to install, whether it be in a temporary property or a permanent one. These dog doors can come in many different sizes and can work for you even if you have a tiny toy pooch or a very large dog.
To make things easier for you we have compiled a buying guide below and listed our favorite dog doors so you can see what they’re all about, what you should be looking for in a dog door and whether one is going to work for you.
How Does An Automatic Dog Door Work?
An automatic dog door works the same as an automatic garage door. It is complied of three major parts — a sensor on the door, a sensor on your dog and and an opening and closing mechanism on the door itself. These dog doors operate through the communication between the sensor on the door and the sensor on your dog, normally on their collar. When your dog is near the door, the door will receive a signal from the transmitter on the collar telling it that your dog either wants to enter or exit. This triggers the mechanism to open and allow your dog access.
There are a few different types of sensors, in more detail below.
A microchip sensor does away with a collar completely. A microchip is implanted into your pet’s body by a vet and then this is what triggers the opening of the door when your dog goes near it. This can be very beneficial as, not only do you not need to worry about a collar, but you also don’t need to worry about the collar getting lost, as the chip is always under your canine’s skin. It also does not need any batteries to operate and the only batteries you’d need to purchase would be ones for the door mechanism.
There are two different types of collars that use a magnetic system. The first pulls a lever within the door by working on the force of the magnet and does not require any batteries. The other type of door features a sensor that detects the magnetic field given off by the collar. This one does require batteries to run and it can be a little more difficult, as it doesn’t actually detect your pet, only the magnetic field. Therefore, if your neighbor’s pet had a magnetic collar then they would be able to gain access to your house too. Another downside is that the collar and door only work in very close proximity with each other.
This newer technology uses radio frequency identification (RFID) within a tag that senses the presence of RFID-embedded devices within a certain magnetic field. This tag contains information that has been electronically stored and, if the door recognizes this information and the door’s RFID can match it, your dog will be granted access. This is a preferred method as it only allows your pet access and it also doesn’t require any batteries.
Collars that use ultrasonic waves to allow your dog to gain access communicate with a high frequency sound to the sensor on the door. This is very simple to use and you can easily adjust the frequency settings to work for your dog. If you increase the sensitivity of the device then the the door will pick up signals from a few feet away, or you can decrease the sensitivity so your dog has to be much closer to the door to gain access. This collars are normally waterproof, however, they often require batteries. They can also be quite heavy and bulky, too.
Radio Frequency Chips
Radio frequency chip keys are similar to RFID keys, however there is no information embedded on them. The sensor on the door picks up a radio frequency when your dog is close enough and opens the door. When your dog leaves and the key is out of range, the door will close again. These are very simple to use but, unfortunately, if another dog wears a chip that emits the same radio frequency then they will also be able to gain access to your house. They can also be quite large collars and require batteries to run.
Things To Consider When Buying An Automatic Dog Door
Buying an automatic dog door is not difficult when you know what you’re looking for and you know how they operate. However, there are a few things you should still consider before buying that will make the process a lot easier for you.
The Size Of Your Dog
The size of your dog is one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a dog door. Obviously, if you have a large breed of dog then you will need a large door and if you have a small dog you can buy a smaller door.
Generally, the height of the hole should be two inches higher the height of your dog’s shoulders to allow enough space for them to get in and out of the door. You dog will duck their head as they enter the door so this is not an issue. For the width, purchase a door two inches wider than your dog’s shoulders or hips to give them enough room. If your dog is currently a puppy but you are looking to install a door early on then take a look at the average size of an adult dog of your puppy’s breed. If you have multiple pups at home of different sizes, cater the door to your largest dog so you can be sure they will all fit through it.
The Type Of Sensor
We went into detail about the type of sensors doggie doors come with and it is up to you to decide which sensor is going to be best for your pet and your lifestyle. If your pup already has a microchip installed, then a microchip sensor may be the best for you. RFID signal sensors can also be great, as well as the magnetic ones. If you are looking for something cheap, a radio frequency chip will be your best bet. Just remember that with certain types of these sensors they can allow other dogs and animals into your home, so you will want to take that into consideration.
There are two different ways to install a dog door — in the wall or in the door. Door installations are much easier as they do not require any excess digging or tunnelling to allow your dog access, which you may have to go through if you pick a wall-installation, especially if your walls are thick or made of concrete. It is up to you to decide where you want your dog to have access to and from the house.
Frames come made in either metal or plastic. If your dog is small, a plastic frame will be fine and will stand well. However, if you have a larger dog or a dog that is known to bash their way through or break things, a metal frame may be a better choice and more durable in the long run.
The Energy Efficiency
By creating a hole in your door or wall to allow your dog access, you will naturally decrease the energy efficiency of your home. In the summer, warm air will flow through the dog door and heat the house even if you have the air conditioning on and, similarly, in winter, cold air will enter the house through the door and cool the house, even if you have the heating on. This means you are spending more money trying to keep your house warm or cold.
To try to combat this, you should consider the construction of the door. There should be a good seal on the frame to prevent the outside air from entering. Some people suggest extending the length of the tube within the door can help to combat a loss in energy efficiency. If the tube is longer, when your dog pushes through the first flap on the door (the outside flap), by the time they get to the second flap (the indoor flap) the first flap will already be closed and will stop outside air getting in. However, this would require a door that equals the length of your dog, which can be difficult to put in and will also not look very aesthetically pleasing.
The programmability of the door controls how your dog enters and exits through it. Working with the type of sensor, you can choose a door that lets your program how long the door stays open once your pet has passed through it, or whether it only opens one way at certain times of the day.
Benefits Of Using An Automatic Dog Door
There are many benefits to using an automatic door. Firstly, it gives your dog more freedom, even when you aren’t at home or can’t get to the door to open it for them. You will be able to get on with what you’re doing without being interrupted by your pooch all the time. Also, by giving them this freedom they’re able to run and play and exercise more, helping to keep them healthy and giving them a better quality of life. By letting them outside you’re also reducing boredom that they may be experiencing, especially if you’re out all day at work and they are left at home alone. They can also socialize with other dogs and this helps to increase their mental stimulation.
Another great benefit to a doggie door is that, if you have trained your dog to go to the toilet at certain times of the day, they will be able to do so outside at their leisure rather than having to hold it until you’re home from work or, even worse, do it inside on the floor. This will also help save your door too — often when dogs want to go out they will show their owners by scratching at the door, so you won’t have to keep replacing or painting it!
If you’re ready to find the right dog door for your house, take a look at the best electronic dog doors we recommend below, available to you on Amazon.
Best Automatic Dog Doors
This PetSafe SmartDoor comes with a SmartKey that you attach to your dog’s collar, allowing the door to detect when your pet is nearby and unlock the door. After your dog passes through the SmartDoor, the door will lock automatically again helping to keep the house pets in and outdoor animals out. With four types of locking control you can customize this door to your needs, switching between locked, unlocked and automatic mode. You can also customize up to five different keys for a multi-pet household with the purchase of additional keys.
Very easy to install, the dog door fits into all different types of materials including panelled, wood, metal and PVC doors, and doors need to be 1 ½ inches to 2 inches thick. Available in two different sizes, the larger size measures 11 inches by 16 inches and is designed for pets up to 100 pounds.
This Power Pet electronic dog door is motor driven and activated by a tiny ultrasonic collar your dog will wear. Instead of your pet pushing this door open with their nose, there is a mechanism in this door that powers the panel upwards as your pet approaches and the sensor is activated. Because this door moves up and down and does not swing outwards, this dog door allows for a tighter seal against the wood, making it not only more durable but also tougher against intruders. The air-tight seal means this door is completely weather proof as well and, due to the quick sensor, you are unlikely to get any stray animals in your house.
The four way access control lets you choose from in only, out only, full access or closed and locked and dual range controls let you set independent inside and outside activation distances. The door measures 8 1/4 inches by 10 inches for dogs up to 30 lbs.
Available in ten different sizes and for both wall and door fixtures, this Solo Pet Doors electronic dog door works with a pet tag sensor. This magnetic tag sensor clips onto your pet’s collar with ease and does not require any batteries, working with the magnet on the door as your dog approaches to let them in. Even better, this tag does not require batteries and is waterproof, so you don’t need to worry about your dog getting wet.
The door flap itself locks in the locked position until the magnet on your dogs collar comes into range with the door to open it again, meaning you won’t get any other dogs or unwanted wild animals in your house. The door is also completely safe and closes slowly, using only gravity.
This SurFlap dog door uses RFID to read your dog’s implanted ID microchip, allowing your pet access to the house without letting in stray animals. If your dog does not have a microchip, programmable collar tags are sold separately. With simple one button programming, this sensor learns up to 32 identities and allows you to set the time that the door locks and unlocks to ensure only your dog is allowed in and out of the house and no intruders or other animals can get through.
The flap opening on this doggie door is 6 inches by 7 inches and can be installed in doors, windows or walls. Batteries are required and it uses 4 C non-rechargeable alkaline batteries, with a flashing red light that indicates when the batteries are low.
Another dog door by Power Pet, this door is designed to fit a sliding glass door in your house. Perfect for a patio door, this pet door uses energy efficient dual pane, Low-E glass panel to blend in to the decor of your house. Activated automatically by a ultrasonic collar your dog will wear, similar to the other Power Pet door we mentioned above this door slides up and out of the way as your pet passes through, and then locks back into place when they are either in or out to ensure stray animals cannot get in.
Wind and weather resistant, the glass is tempered and the extra heavy duty aluminum frame is nearly twice as thick and about 8 times stronger than typical patio pet door panels. Because this glass is double paned, it is more energy efficient and help keeps the heat in or out. The door unit easily fits into your sliding door track and adjusts to your door’s individual height with a special spring loaded top section for quick and easy installation. You can buy this door in two different heights with two different flap sizes based on your dog’s size.
This SureFlap pet door also uses your dog’s microchip to detect when they are coming or going. Using RFID technology, only your pet will be allowed in and no strays or other animals will be able to get into your home. The sensor learns up to 32 identities and RFID collar tags are sold separately for pets without microchips, so all your pets can have one. The one thing that makes this door stand out against the other SureFlap door we mention above is the SureFlap Hub that comes with this unit.
Connected to the Sure Petcare app you download on your phone, you can keep updated on your dog’s comings and goings, to see what they are up to when you’re away from home, helping you understand their behavior and patterns. You can also lock and unlock the door from the app, so you can always be there for your dog. You can program the collar for your pet’s needs, too. The door measures 6 inches by 7 inches and can be installed in doors, windows or walls. This dog door also uses non-rechargeable batteries and has a red light to tell you when they are running low.
This door from Namsan isn’t quite the same as the other pet doors we mention here, in the fact that it does not come with a sensor and is more of a traditional style door. Still lockable, you can keep other animals and dogs out but your dog does not have a way to open the door themselves if it is locked. However, as the fixture is magnetic, when not locked your dog can push their way through and this automatic pet door will swing closed and magnet shut, making it harder for other animals to get into the house.
The flap swings both ways so your dog can get in and out. This door fits all doors and window screens and is suitable for all types of dogs, measuring 12 inches by 16 inches. The door frame is made from ABS plastic and is therefore very durable, making it perfect if you have a larger dog that tends to break things. It is also very easy to install.
This Endura Flap pet door is great for those who want to be energy efficient. With two flaps, this door aims to keep out the winter cold or the summer heat by placing more than one barrier between the outside and in. Powered by magnets, this door is fitted with a three-sided adjustable power magnets designed to stay shut in high winds and guaranteed up to 50mph, and comes with a clip-lock keeps this dog door securely shut when not in use or when you’re away.
Even better, because these magnets are adjustable, you can change their strength based on your dog’s needs and their ability to push the door open. With a sturdy aluminum tunnel that is 8 inches thick, this door is very durable and made to last. The flap size comes in four different sizes based on your dogs height and weight, and it is also available in three different colors.
This dog and cat door from Extreme Dog Door is made to last. Built with a durable aluminum alloy frame, this door will stay intact for much longer than a standard plastic frame and strong magnets that secure the door ensures energy efficiency. These magnets also give your dog the freedom to go and play — all they need to do is push the door and the magnets will detach and allow them either in or out. There is also an included security panel that locks in place from the inside in 2 spots, ensuring there are no unwanted visitors while you’re away from home.
The door is very easy to install and fits perfectly in wooden doors and panels. It comes in four different sizes for your dog and there is also the option to buy either a single or double flapped door, depending on your dog’s and household’s needs.
How To Measure A Dog Door
We mentioned above that you should check that the door you buy is the right size for your dog. There is no point trying to squeeze a Great Dane through a tiny dog door — it simply won’t happen! You’ll need to take measurements of your largest dog, even if you have more than pup at home.
The best way to take a measurement of your dog is to do the height first. Let your dog stand and then measure from the floor to the highest part of their back. Add one to two inches to this and this will be the height of your door. As we said above, don’t worry about their heads as they will duck as they enter through the door anyway.
For the width of your dog, again let your dog stand and then take a measurement of the widest part of their body. This could be their torso or even their hips. Add one to two inches to this as well, or even more if your dog’s weight tends to fluctuate.
Once you have your measurements for your frame, you will need to measure the outside of the dog frame to make sure you get the hole the right size in the door. You should also take into consideration the step-over height. If your dog is old or a puppy, they will need a low step over height of just a couple of inches. If your dog is bigger though, the general recommendation is 5 to 10 inches.
How To Install An Automatic Dog Door
Installing an automatic dog door is actually quite easy and you shouldn’t need a professional to do it. You will need some tools, however.
Firstly, the automatic dog door should come with a cutting template for your door or wall. Use this to outline the pet door onto your door or wall. Then, you should cut the hole using the correct tool based on the material of your door or wall. If you are cutting into your door, it is best to take the door off it’s hinges so you can get to it more easily. Once you have made the hole, make sure the dog door fits in the hole and trim if it doesn’t. When it fits, secure the dog door in place with the screws that come with the door. Make sure not to over-tighten them.
Once your automatic dog door is installed, you will have to spend some time training your dog to use it. Remember to be patient with your dog as they learn to use it and gives them lots of encouragement and treats. They will eventually get he hang of it.
An automatic dog door can be a great addition to your home for both you as a pet owner and your pet. Giving your dog the freedom to go outside when they like and exercise when you’re not at home and stopping you from having to get up every time your pup wants to go out, we know you’ll be able to find a door your love in the list above. Remember to take into consideration factors such as the size of your pooch and the type of sensor you want to use before buying, and make sure to read the instructions carefully when installing the door.