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Dog doors or dog flaps are some of the best things you can buy for your dog. Not only does it prevent you from having to open the door for them whenever they want to go outside, but it also gives your dog the freedom to enjoy the yard whenever they want.
If you’re a new dog owner or have just moved house, choosing a dog door is a relatively painless experience, as long as you approach it logically.
That’s what this article is all about.
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Size is everything
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes. Tall, short, long-legged, short-legged, broad-shouldered, narrow-shouldered. So, your first consideration is to get the right-sized dog door for your dog.
Ideally, you want a door big enough for your dog to be able to walk through without having to crouch or hunch over too much.
Each product should have a size indicator, small, medium, large, and extra-large dogs. Use that as a guide.
If not, the dog flap should have a hole size mentioned somewhere in the description. Get out the tape measure and see how tall and wide your dog is and buy a doggie door that fits.
Location, location, location
Next up, where will your dog door lead? Most of us have it leading to the backyard, but you can place it leading to a garage, outbuilding, paddock, or anything you like.
Just make sure to look beyond the dog door at the outside area. Make sure it’s secure, that there are no escape routes and nothing in the garden that could harm your dog.
Remember, your dog may be in your yard for long periods without supervision so make sure there is no way of escape or things out there that could hurt them. If possible, make sure your dog cannot be seen from the road to avoid theft.
To lock or not to lock.
If you live in a busy neighborhood with lots of cats or dogs, you may want to look into a locking dog door. These use either your dog’s microchip or an ID tag on their collar to allow access.
Locking dog doors are fully automatic and can be programmed to allow more dogs to enter and leave the house. The door will unlock automatically when an authorized dog approaches but remains locked when neighbors’ dogs or cats come calling.
You can program a locking dog door for multiple animals so all your pets can come and go as they please.
Most dog flaps will also have some manual locking mechanism. Whether that’s a flap you slide down inside or a manual catch for the door, you still have full control over when your door is accessible.
Door or wall?
Did you know some dog doors can be installed in a wall instead of a door? If you have French doors, patio doors, or sliding glass, they may not be ideal for a dog flap.
In that case, you can install it in an exterior wall and use a tunnel to provide access. Installation is roughly the same; cut a hole for the dog door through the wall and place the dog flap on either side.
For thicker walls, you can buy special plastic tunnels to protect the dog. They are designed specifically for dog doors and provide smooth access.
You can place dog doors in the glass, but you’ll need either a glazier, a replacement pane of glass with a hole cut, or a full door with a hole and dog door already installed.
Training your dog to use the door
Smarter dog breeds will quickly figure out they can now come and go as they please. If your dog is anything like ours, they will have watched you install the door and have given it a good sniff once you finished.
As soon as they see the door open, they’ll hop through and explore!
If your dog is more reluctant, bribery and corruption always work. Have your dog sit on one side of the dog door, push your hand through the door so they can see you, and call their name.
They should see they can exit and come through. If they need more encouragement, use a favorite treat and use bribery to entice them. Food will always work!