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If you have a dog who frequently asks to go out or multiple dogs you’re constantly getting up to let outside and then back indoors, you may wonder whether a dog door would make your life a little easier.

Dog doors are protected openings built into an existing door or outside wall of your house. These openings allow your dog to access your yard and return to the house without your assistance. Here are some things to consider before purchasing a dog door for your home.

Types of Dog Doors

Dog doors come in a variety of different designs with a range of features. Here are a few types to consider based on your home setup, as well as your dog’s needs:


The most common and usually least expensive type of dog doors are simple flaps that cover openings made in your current door or wall. The flaps are flexible and easy for a dog to push aside. Some versions have double flaps or magnetic seals to provide more protection from outside temperatures.

Microchip-Activated Doors

These doors require your pet to wear a microchip collar that opens the door only when your dog approaches it . Then, the door closes once the dog passes through. The idea is that unwanted visitors, such as raccoons or squirrels, won’t be able to get through the dog door. Microchip-activated doors require electricity or batteries to operate. If your electricity often goes down, consider a battery-operated version. In particular, look for an option that alerts you when the batteries are running low.

Sliding Door Insert

Floor-to-ceiling panels are easy to insert in a sliding door opening and offer an excellent alternative to making holes in your wall or door. These inserts are an especially great option for those who are renting. However, the door must be wide enough to fit a full-length sliding door insert and still leave room for adults to walk through.

Customized Sliding Doors and French Doors

It’s possible to buy a sliding door or a French door for your house with a built-in dog door. These may be a more expensive option, but they’re also more attractive.

All American Dog peeking through a doggie door from the outside.
TriggerPhoto / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Benefits of Dog Doors

An obvious benefit of dog doors is that they allow your dog to get outside fast whenever they need to relieve themselves. But pet owners have plenty of other reasons for praising the use of dog doors:

  • Dogs get bored and need mental stimulation, and dog doors allow them to get outside more frequently and help prevent boredom
  • To maintain good health, dogs require proper exercise. Running around and exploring in the backyard is great for muscle development and weight management. Plus, a dog door may encourage them to do that more often.
  • Dog owners who are working at home don’t need to excuse themselves from their online conference call to let the dog out or back in
  • If you’re out of the house, you can sometimes get caught in traffic or tied up in an activity. With a dog door, you won’t need to worry that your dog is stuck inside the house or outside.
Doggie door set into the wall at home.

What to Consider Before Purchasing a Dog Door

It’s important to find the right dog door that meets your dog’s needs and suits your living situation. Here are some factors to consider before making a purchase:

  • Safety: If your dog is going to be outside unsupervised, your yard must be escape-proof, your plants mustn’t be toxic to dogs, and your pool or pond must be fenced and inaccessible.
  • Size: Be sure that the door will accommodate the size of your dog. Small dogs must be able to easily open the door without much force. Large dogs must fit through comfortably.
  • Energy-Saving Features: It’s important to look for dog doors made of materials that insulate your home from cold or hot temperatures, rain, and snow.
  • Security: Some doors have locks and electronic timers. These features allow you to secure the door at night or when you’re on vacation. Plus, they’ll allow you to block out other animals and prevent your dog from going out at night unsupervised. Consider installing your dog door away from doorknobs or window latches that can be opened if someone reaches in.
  • Yard size: If you have a huge yard and find it difficult to keep track of your dog, you can enclose a smaller area outside the dog door with a dog pen for convenience and safety.
  • Training considerations: All dogs aren’t automatically drawn to use dog doors, so expect to put in some time training your dog how to go out and come back in without your help.
  • Importance of oversight: Whether you’re at home or not, you’ll want to know where your dog is at all times. A GPS collar on your dog or a sensor on the dog door will alert you when your dog goes out and comes in.
Basset Hound going through a doggie door to the outside.
dmussman -

Sometimes Dog Doors Aren’t a Good Fit

There are times when a dog door may just not be the right option for your dog. Here are some examples:

  • Housetraining: Dog trainers recommend that the best way to housetrain a dog is to take them outside frequently on a leash and praise them when they do their business. Dog doors may allow your dog to go out quickly. But, you won’t always be with them to praise their good habits.
  • Families: If you have toddlers who could copy your dog and exit through a dog door, you may want to wait until they’re older to install one. When they’re young, they’ll think it’s a great game to follow behind their dog buddy.
  • Wildlife: If you live in an area where you could find wild animals in your yard, a dog door could allow unwelcome surprises into your home. Small and extra-small dog breeds are especially unsafe being outside alone when there’s wildlife around.
  • Mess factor: When dogs come inside they can track in mud, sand, leaves, sticks, and water. Since your dog can come inside unattended, you won’t have a chance to wipe their feet before they run through the house.
  • Disturbance: If your dog is a barker – at the neighbors, passersby, squirrels, etc., allowing them to let themselves out whenever they detect something they consider worth barking at can get very annoying.
  • Bonding: Dog doors can be very convenient in the right circumstances, but they shouldn’t replace the time you spend with your dog playing fetch in the yard, taking walks together, and doing positive reinforcement training.
Related article: How Much Mental and Physical Exercise Do Puppies Need?
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