There are many joys of owning dogs, but all of the added chores associated with them isn’t one of them. I’m all about automating whatever is possible to get more free time for myself which is why I’m writing about dog doors.
If you’ve never had a dog door in your home, you probably don’t realize what a benefit it is, especially if you have a fenced yard (or an electric dog fence) and your dog likes to hangout outside. No more getting bothered to go back and forth to let your dog in and out.
Dog doors are a pretty major purchase as they permanently modify the access to your home. Today’s dog doors have come a long ways from what your parents used to have. You’ll find a lot of energy-conscious features and weatherproofing as well as security features like locking. Some dog doors are even electronic and will only allow access to your own dogs!
I’ll now guide you through how to pick out the best dog door for your home. We’ll consider all the features and must-haves available across every dog door on the market to find the one that’s perfect for you.
Best Dog Door for an External Door
If you’re looking for the classic dog door that you’ll install into a door in your house, then the top pick is the PetSafe Extreme Weather Energy Efficient Pet Door.
- ENERGY EFFICIENT: Unique three-flap system is rated 3.5 times more energy efficient than single flap...
- CENTER INSULATED FLAP: Perfect for hot and cold climates; keeps the warm and cool air inside your home
- CONTROLLED ACCESS: Snap-on closing panel allows you to keep your pet from using the pet door; use a...
This dog door comes in small, medium, and large sizes. The large size works for pets up to 100 lbs and has an opening width of 10.125 inches and height of 16.25 inches. This makes a great dog door for large breeds, but you’ll still want to measure your dog first to ensure you get the right size.
This dog door has 3 flaps for maximum energy efficiency which is ideal if you live in a climate with harsh winters or hot summers. This 3 flap system is 3.5x more energy efficient than single flap doors!
The plastic frame around the opening is a white, paintable plastic so you can have it match your home decor as needed.
This doggy door does include a snap-on closing panel which will allow you to prevent anything from coming and going, however it’s not the most secure setup of all the options we will look at.
If you’re interested in what it takes to install a dog door into your home’s door, we cover that below.
Best Dog Door for a Wall
Looking for a permanent installation into your wall? There are options! PetSafe makes a Wall Entry Pet Door for this purpose, but be warned it is much more permanent and more difficult to install than a door model.
- DURABLE FRAME: Durable PVC plastic frame is great for withstanding UV exposure, and the telescoping...
- DOUBLE FLAP DESIGN: The pet door has two replaceable flaps that help keep out weather and provide energy...
- CONTROLLED ACCESS: The slide in closing panel is provided for added insulation and control of your pet's...
This dog door also comes small, medium, and large sizes. The opening for the large size is 10.375 inches wide and 15.375 inches tall, so it’s a little wider than the door model above and about an inch shorter.
This pet door can be installed into any wall between 4.75 and 7.25 inches thick. It features a flap on both sides of the tunnel to help with energy efficiency and it does have a slide-in plastic panel to prevent any critters from coming and going as desired.
A wall dog door can be ideal for your home if you want your dog to come and go where you don’t have an exterior door. Cutting into the walls of your house isn’t for the faint of heart though, so you’ll want to be a handyman or plan on hiring the job out to a friend or professional who can handle the task.
Best Dog Door for Sliding Glass Doors
PetSafe is back again with another great sliding door, but this one is the easiest of all to install and it’s also easily removable! The Patio Panel Sliding Glass Dog Door is ideal for homes or patios that have a sliding glass door for a variety of reasons.
- QUICK INSTALLATION: Simple do-it-yourself project without cutting into walls or doors; patio panel...
- VARIETY OF SIZES AND COLORS: Use the sizing char to find the perfect size door for your best friend; door...
- PERFECT FOR RENTERS: Sliding glass door insert is perfect for apartments because the door is detachable...
This dog door comes in 5 different sizes – small, medium, large, large/tall, and extra large. The extra large dog door is a whopping 14 inches wide and 24 inches tall – perfect for giant dog breeds and the biggest dog door you’ll find!
The way this dog door works is it’s actually an insert that you place in the tracks of your sliding glass door. As a result your sliding glass door will now close flush to this dog door insert. This dog door fits sliding glass doors of ~76-81″ or ~91-96″ in height, and it comes in bronze, satin, and white frame colors to match your door.
The biggest benefit to using this style of dog door is it doesn’t require you to make permanent modifications to your home. It’s easy to install and remove, so you could easily have this in a condo or apartment.
One thing to note is that once this dog door is installed, it does not slide or move at all. This means the opening for your sliding glass door will get quite a bit more narrow – something to consider if you have a more narrow sliding glass door and you’re looking to install one of the larger models.
Best Security Dog Door with Aluminum Frame
Dog doors do offer you the wonderful freedom of letting your dog come and go as needed, but they can also be a security concern for some dog owners. If a regular dog door won’t suffice, then the Plexidor Dog Door is what you’re after.
- No Replacement Flaps Required
- Security features-comes with lock, key and steel security plate
- Energy efficient weather seal and saloon-style plexiglass panels
The Plexidor is unique in a few ways. First, it uses “saloon-style” doors which open easily and close automatically. Many dogs (and cats) find it easier to use these style doors because flap-style doors have force and pressure pushing down on a pet as they go through it. Since these saloon doors swing open, there’s much less resistance.
Here are some of these doors in action –
As far as security features go, this Plexidor model has anodized aluminium interior and exterior frames to resist all weather and provide strength around the enclosure.
The door also has a heavy duty steel cylinder lock that’s only visible from the inside and two keys, so you can shut down access as desired. Also, the medium, large, and extra large sizes come with a steel security plate that you can screw into the frame of the dog door. This is much better security than plastic slide-in plates that other dog door offer.
As far as sizes go, this model comes in small, medium, large and extra large. The large size is quite generous – 11.75 inches wide and 16 inches tall at the opening. If you have a giant breed then the extra large size has a width of 16 inches and height of 23.75 inches!
This is a case of “you get what you pay for” and the Plexidor can be expensive. The company has been in business since 1985 however, and they offer a 10 year warranty on their dog doors so it’s a brand you can trust.
Best Electronic Dog Door
Some people may be interested in an electronic dog door for their home, which has some benefits. Using a sensor you’ll place on your dog’s collar, an electronic dog door will allow access to only your dogs.
I’ll be honest though, the options for electronic dog doors aren’t great. They aren’t slim, sleek, or “smart” by today’s standards. They are functional, however. We like the High Tech Pet Electronic Door for anyone looking for an electronic option.
- Motor driven vertically-sliding door is activated by MS-4 ultrasonic collar
- Directional sensing system opens the door only when your pet is on a direct approach, not when he is just...
- 4-way access control lets you select from In Only, Out Only, Full Access or Closed & Locked
This dog door requires the use of a rechargeable battery pack or an AC power cord run directly to an outlet to power the door.
This electric dog door is available in medium or large. The large opening measures 12.25 inches wide by 16 inches tall – quite big for a dog door.
The control panel for this dog door is a bit dated, but it gives you the ability to allow your pets only in, only out, in/out, or lock the door closed. You can also adjust the range at which your pets will trigger the door to open from both inside and outside which is a neat feature.
This door uses a steel deadbolt lock when the door isn’t open and some strong polycarbonate housing, so it has great security features.
One other key thing to consider when buying this door is that due to the dog door not being a flap but a lifting/lowering mechanism, the overall unit is much taller than a regular dog door. The large dog door unit measures just over 40.5″ from top to bottom. If you plan on installing this dog door onto a door that has a window built into it, you’ll want to measure and see if this dog door unit would be blocking the window from the inside.
Best Dog Door for a Sliding Screen Door
If you have a screen door and want to use that as a dog door, you’re in great luck! This Namsan Pet Screen Door is a really quick and easy way to install a dog door that’ll give your dogs the freedom they crave right away.
- Size - Flap opening size is 12" W x 14" H, For all size dogs and cats.
- Feature - This swinging wire mesh pet door is built with high-impact plastic, and includes a sliding lock...
- Usage - Frame mounts directly through any standard screen door to provide a discrete and attractive...
This dog door is offered in small or large. The large size opening is 12 inches wide by 14 inches tall – if you have a giant breed, this may not be big enough but most large breeds should have no trouble with this size.
The best thing about a screen door dog door is the ease of installation. You can simply line up the inner and outer frames, snap them together (with the screen in-between), use provided screws to tighten the connection, then cut the screen inside the frame using a utility knife.
The dog door does include plastic locking tabs to prevent your dogs from coming or going, though they aren’t much of a security feature. I imagine this won’t be a big issue for most dog owners as you’ll have a stronger sliding glass door you can close and lock during the evenings. Magnets on the door flap help keep the door secured and in place when not in use.
The Good and Bad of Dog Doors
Let’s take the time to list out all of the positives and negatives of doggy doors to give you a full picture before you make a decision. The major benefit you’re going to get from adding a dog door is the freedom your pet gets to go outside when they want. This means they’re happier because they can move around as they please, and you’ll be happier because it’s less up and down you have to do to let the dogs in and out.
There are some downsides to dog doors, however. One thing to consider is home security. If you have large dogs and need to install a large dog door, you’ll want to make sure you get a locking dog door that an intruder couldn’t take advantage of.
A dog door isn’t going to be as weather efficient as a regular door since there’s just a flap (or two) separating the outdoors with your indoor air. Some dog doors are better at keeping the elements out, so if you live in an area with really cold winters you might want to make weatherproofing a priority.
A final potential downside is your dog unknowingly tracking in dirt or mud inside the house with their unrestrained access. There are a lot of good ways to clean muddy dog paws, but that requires you to know that your dog is about to come inside with dirty paws first!
Where Should I Install My Dog Door?
As we’ve talked about, there’s a variety of places to install a dog door including a door, wall, screen door, or sliding glass door. Where you choose to install your dog door is likely going to depend on the layout of your house and where access to the fenced portion of your yard can be had.
Doing a dog door directly into the wall of your house is a bit of a daunting project and not something you can easily fix yourself if something goes wrong. Also if you have any plans to sell your house in the future, this could be viewed as a major negative to potential buyers that aren’t pet owners or would prefer to not have a dog door.
Installing into a door is likely the best option for most homeowners. Most people have a backdoor to their house that opens up into a fenced yard which makes it very convenient. Also should you move, replacing a single door is much cheaper and easier than repairing a hole in a wall!
Other factors to consider for your placement is what area of the home the dog will be going in and out of. An ideal situation would be to have the dog door in a mud room or some area of the home that can more easily absorb any initial dirt or wet paws that come in to the house.
Steps to Installing a Dog Door
Installing a dog door into your existing door isn’t as difficult a task as it may seem initially. It will require you to cut a hole into your door and the use of two power tools (a drill and a decent jigsaw). The instructions that come with a dog door and pretty straightforward as well so you should be able to hire a handyman or family member to do the job for you if needed. Realistically it can be done in under an hour!
- Measure your dog’s shoulder height
- Mark your dog’s shoulder height on the door
- Take your door off the hinges (recommended for easier installation if you can prop the door on something horizontally)
- Tape the dog door template on the door
- Drill holes in the 4 corners as indicated by the template
- Use a jigsaw to cut straight lines between the drilled holes
- Insert the dog door pieces into both sides of the door and use the included screws to hold them together
- Put your door back on the hinges
Here’s a nice video that walks you through these steps.
Some other dog door installations such as into a screen door or a sliding glass door insert are even easier than this process and can be done in minutes.