If you want a dog door that will keep its clean, neat appearance despite your pooch’s frequent comings and goings, consider the Designer Series Plastic Pet Door by Ideal Pet Products. Its impact-resistant plastic frame, which adapts to doors from 1.25 to 2 inches thick, is built to take all the bumps, scratches, and bites your dog may dish out. It also has a telescoping frame that allows you to tunnel through a wall to reach the exterior of the home, should you opt to wall-mount it rather than door-mount it. The flexible vinyl flap, which measures 5 by 7 inches, has patented edges that won’t warp. This model, recommended for pets from 2 to 12 pounds, has a lock-out slide to control access.
The Best Dog Doors for the Home
Whether you rent or own, you can give your pet the freedom to come and go—while ensuring the security of your home—with the right pet portal.
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- Best OverallIdeal Pet Products Designer Series Plastic Pet DoorSEE IT
- Best Bang for the BuckPetSafe Staywell Original 2-Way Pet DoorSEE IT
- Best ElectronicPetSafe Electronic SmartDoorSEE IT
A portal that allows your pooch safe and easy access to the outside can be a real convenience for pet lovers. A dog door frees you up from having to open the door every time your four-pawed family members must do their business, proving especially helpful with older dogs who may need to relieve themselves often.
The best dog doors currently come in a wide variety of sizes and styles to suit both you and your pets’ home situation. These include window, wall, traditional door-mounted models, and even electronic versions. This guide will help you navigate which features to look for and show you why the following models are considered some of the best dog doors on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: Ideal Pet Products Designer Series Plastic Pet Door
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: PetSafe Staywell Original 2-Way Pet Door
- BEST ELECTRONIC: PetSafe Electronic SmartDoor
- BEST FOR SLIDING DOORS: PetSafe Freedom Aluminum Patio Panel Pet Door
- BEST WALL-MOUNTED: PetSafe Wall Entry Plastic Pet Door
- BEST DOOR-MOUNTED: BarksBar Original Plastic Dog Door
- BEST WINDOW-MOUNTED: Ideal Pet Products Aluminum Sash Window Pet Door
- BEST INSULATED: PetSafe Extreme Weather Door
Common Types of Dog Doors
Dog doors may be mounted in a traditional door, sliding door, wall, or window. When choosing the right one for your home, consider material, security, and installation. Adding a dog door may mean modifying your home by sawing a hole into the door or wall, but professional dog door installers are available for hire if you prefer not to do the job yourself. While all dog doors are securable, all can also be compromised. One of the easiest ways to thwart would-be intruders is to install the dog door in a less-than-obvious place, such as a back door or window.
The classic animal gateway is the door-mounted dog door with a simple flap your pooch can push to go in and out. The flap is typically securable to block access at those times when you don’t want your pet to go outside. You can also find models with two, or even three, flaps for extra insulation, advisable in areas where extreme weather is common. Installing this type of dog door is a relatively easy DIY job, but if you make an error it can be pricey; you could have to repair, or even replace, the main door. The task involves drilling holes for mounting hardware, sawing the hole in the main door, then placing and sealing the frame of the dog door and putting in the flap(s).
Since it requires simply pushing the flap, a door-mounted dog door is simple for your pet to use, but it may also grant access to stray animals and wildlife—intruders have been known to use door-mounted dog doors to gain entry to a home. What’s more, small children may be able to crawl out.
Rather than a front-and-center position on your home’s door, a wall-mounted dog door can be placed in a less prominent area of the home. These dog doors can be a smart choice if you want your pet to have access to another area of the house, such as a garage. To install, a hole must be drilled into the wall. And, depending on the thickness of the wall, a tunnel might also be needed for your pet to pass through. A wall-mounted dog door is the most complicated type to install as a DIY project.
There are various different types of window-mounted dog—and cat—doors, to fit both sash and sliding windows. One common way to achieve a window-mounted dog door is to replace a pane of glass with a portal the pet uses by pushing a flap. If you don’t feel confident working with glass, you can hire a glazier to do the job. Renters, and others opposed to modifying their home, might consider a window-mounted door that slides back and forth. Since many of these models come with locking covers, you can leave it open for your pet to enter or exit, and then close and secure it when needed.
Sliding Glass Door Insert
If your home has sliding glass doors, consider an insert where a small area of the door is replaced with a flap-operated dog door, which will allow you to use your sliding glass door as you normally do. Many models have locks that independently secure the dog door. One of the most important aspects of such an insert is the height your pet must step over to come and go. Some manufacturers make sliding glass door inserts with adjustable “step-overs” so your dog needn’t struggle, especially as he ages. DIY install is possible, but somewhat complex.
If you’re concerned that wildlife, neighbors’ pets, or intruders might gain access to your home, consider an electronic dog door. These typically install in one of the main doors of the home in the same way as traditional dog doors. Electronic dog doors often have extra insulation, which is especially useful for those living in extreme weather areas.
Some electronic doors are activated via your pet’s vet-inserted microchip, while others have you set timers and lock modes. In both cases, you might need to program your animal’s collar or microchip so it connects to the door’s electronic mechanism.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Dog Door
To choose the perfect portal for your pets, consider their size, mobility, and personality. The following factors and features should be part of your decision.
A dog door must be large enough for your pet to comfortably go in and out without getting bumped or scratched on the way through. If the door is too short or the step over is too high, some dogs may refuse to use it. As a general rule, the height of the door should be 1.5 to 2 inches higher than the shoulders of your tallest pet. This is vital, since a dog can be injured running excitedly through a too-low dog door. The step-over at the bottom of the door depends on the size of your pet and the design of the door. When in doubt, opt for a lower step-over, so that a senior dog with mobility issues will be able to cross it without trouble or pain.
Dog door frames are commonly made of plastic or metal, while flaps are typically plastic or vinyl. Plastic flaps are relatively inexpensive and easy to install, but they yellow with age and accumulate scratches, making them unsightly. Vinyl flaps are more flexible and easier to push, so are often better suited to small dogs or cats, as well as weaker, older animals. Vinyl flaps are generally secured with magnets and can be mounted very low for ease of access.
It’s prudent to choose a vinyl flap manufactured from a large sheet because it’s more likely to hang straight and not need adjustment. Flaps made from injection-molded vinyl tend to lose their shape quickly, so you may need to replace them rather frequently. And, because vinyl flaps can stiffen in cold climates, they may not function well during harsh winters.
Insulation and Energy Efficiency
Most dog door manufacturers state their offerings are insulated and energy-efficient. To ensure the claim is valid, verify that the door has at least some of the following features: an insulated flap, a double flap, weatherstripping, magnets, or other fasteners to keep the flap secure during high winds.
Locks serve to both keep your pet in and unwanted visitors out. Because pet owners may not always want their animals to come and go freely, some dog doors have a knob or lever to manually lock the door. Not many dog doors, especially small ones, have these locks, so if you want one, be sure to check for it.
In addition to manual locks meant to keep your furry friend in, some dog doors offer other security components, ensuring your home is extra secure when off-site. Types of protection available depend on the model and location of the dog door. Some allow you to lock a cover over a dog door, while others have traditional locks. Most small dog doors don’t have locks, but some have anti-raccoon features.
Ease of Installation
If you’re handy with a drill and saw, you may be able to install a basic door-mounted dog door. However, if you make a mistake, you may have to replace the entire door. For a wall-mounted dog door, you might be better off hiring a professional dog door installer to avoid damage to electric, plumbing, or other essential home systems.
Your pups won’t realize you got a bargain on this sturdy dog door. The PetSafe Staywell Original 2-Way Pet Door features an optional tunnel that allows access through thick walls, or exterior and interior doors of varying thicknesses. There’s also a plastic, locking closing panel to secure the flap when you wish to limit your pets’ access. The flap on this model measures 7.48 by 7.48 by 1.57 inches and is suitable for pets up to 15 pounds.
If you like the idea of a pet door, but worry about security, the PetSafe Electronic SmartDoor is worth a look. It operates via four D-Cell batteries and is activated by a waterproof SmartKey that attaches to your pet’s collar. Whenever pets pass through, the door automatically locks behind them, keeping unwanted wildlife, animals, and intruders out. Though designed to be installed on interior or exterior doors, an optional kit is available for wall installation. The door includes five SmartKeys for multiple pets and comes in size 3.97 by 3.25 by 17.8 inches for small dogs and . size 8.6 by 3.25 by 27.1 inches for bigger dogs.
If you want a pet portal for your sliding doors that’s easy to install and detach, consider this option from PetSafe. It’s a panel that adjusts to fit in almost any sliding glass door frame without cutting or other modification, making it well suited to folks who don’t want to physically alter the door. A tinted, flexible flap made from shatterproof glass is secured by magnets to be both energy-efficient and safe. The weather-resistant aluminum frame is available in a white, bronze, or satin finish to blend with your home’s decor and includes a closing panel to limit access.
Quality counts with any pet portal, but even more so with wall-mounted models. Wall-mounted pet doors are often expensive to install and can be costly and difficult to remove and replace. With that in mind, check into the PetSafe Wall Entry Plastic Pet Door. It has a durable aluminum frame with a plastic telescoping tunnel that fits walls with a thickness range between 4.75 inches and 7.25 inches. This model features a double-flap design for extra insulation, and the replaceable flaps are easy to swap out when needed. There’s also a slide-in panel for extra protection against the weather and to limit pets’ access. With a flap that measures 10.38 x 15.38 inches, this door is recommended for pets up to 100 pounds.
As pet owners know, dogs (and wildlife) sometimes chew the plastic flaps on dog doors, which is why this BarksBar model has been bite- and chew-tested to hold up. The traditional door-mounted portal’s frame is plastic with an aluminum lining to avoid warping, while the heavy-duty vinyl flap won’t degrade and has a magnetic closure to keep severe weather out. There’s a removable self-locking panel with two-way locking to limit access. This dog door comes in a medium size with a flap that measures 7 by 11.25 inches (for dogs up to 40 pounds) and a large size with a 10.5 by 15 inch-flap (for dogs up to 100 pounds).
If you have sash windows and want to give your pets easy outdoor access, consider this Pet Products model. The high-quality, white-finish aluminum frame is literally a snap to install and remove. The pet portal features a flexible vinyl flap and includes an animal lock-out slide to control access. This window-mounted door suits pets up to 90 pounds and comes in five flap sizes: 6.25 by 6.25 inches, 5 by 7 inches, 7 by 11.25 inches, 7.5 by 10.5, and 10.5 by 15 inches.
If you live in an area that tends to experience serious storms and temperatures, the PetSafe Extreme Weather Door may be the smartest choice for your home and your dogs. This door relies on a three-flap system, with a heavily insulated center flap, to shut out extreme heat, cold, and elements, making it more energy-efficient than single-flap doors. A snap-on closing panel allows you to control access, and the door can also accommodate a second snap-on panel (sold separately) to add an extra layer of weather protection. The plastic frame is paintable allowing you to match your door color if desired. It’s available with a flap size of 5.13 by 8.25 inches for pets up to 15 pounds and a flap size of 10.13 by 16.25 inches for dogs up to 100 pounds.
FAQs About Your New Dog Door
The variety of dog doors available can make it challenging to keep up with all the information on features, benefits, and installation. Consider the answers to these frequently asked questions to guide you to the best dog door for your pets and your home.
Q. How do you install a dog door?
This varies greatly depending on the type, size, and location of the dog door. For basic door-mounted dog doors, you generally mark the opening, drill the holes for the mounting hardware, cut the opening, place the frame, and seal it with the material suggested by the manufacturer.
Q. How high should a dog door be off the ground?
A good rule of thumb is to install dog doors at least 3 inches from the bottom of your door to maintain structural integrity. However, the size and age of your dog also factors in; the dog door “step-over” should be low enough for a small or senior pet to traverse comfortably.
Q. How big does my dog door have to be?
While this also depends on the size of your dog, the portal should be at least 2 inches higher than your pet’s shoulders so the animal can exit and enter without bumping into the top of the frame.
Q. Are dog doors a security risk?
Dog doors can be a security risk if they allow wildlife or other animals to enter or small children to crawl through. And, yes, burglars have been known to gain access to a home through the dog door. To lessen that chance, consider installing a locking or electronic dog door in a discreet location.