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Why You Need an Exterior Door with a Built in Pet Door

It’s hard to imagine a world without dogs. Our furry friends provide us with constant companionship, unconditional love, and endless entertainment. And it’s no wonder that dogs are so popular – over 63 million households in the United States have a dog as a pet.

If you have a backyard or outdoor area for your dog to access for playing or to attend to their own personal needs, it can get annoying opening and closing the door all day long for them. Installing an exterior door with a built-in pet door can make your life a lot easier. Your dog can go in and out of your house with ease, eliminating the need for you to get up to let them in or out. 

In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about pet doors and why they’re so important for your household. 

The Benefits of a Pet Door

Freedom for you and your pet isn’t the only benefit of installing a pet door in your house. Installing a safe and high-quality pet door in your home is a great investment and addition. 

Improve the Health of Your Pets

It’s not safe for an animal of any size to refrain from going to the bathroom for long periods of time. It can lead to urinary tract infections. Since animals can’t communicate with us when something is wrong, a health condition is often more serious once it comes to our attention. 

Allowing your dog or cat to go outside whenever they need to relieve themselves can reduce the risk of urinary tract infections. There are other causes for the medical condition but having to wait to go to the bathroom will help. 

Being able to go outside whenever they’d like to will help your pet stay alert and mentally stimulated. Especially if they’re home along throughout the day, they can go outside to explore and run around. The fresh air and sunshine will provide countless benefits for your pet’s mental and physical health. 

Safety for Your Animals

In recent years, there have been reports of animals being left outside during extreme cold or hot weather. Tragically, this can result in a beloved pet becoming seriously injured or passing away due to being left outside in extreme conditions. A pet door will ensure your pet can access the cooler indoors after being outside. 

Sometimes your pet will encounter a predator outside, like a snake, hawk, or a large animal. Having a pet door will give them a place to safely run to and seek shelter. If you have an automatic or electronic pet door, that’ll ensure that the other animal isn’t able to follow them inside. 

There have been incidents where a home has caught on fire. The pet is able to escape by using the pet door. 

If there’s ever an emergency inside, a pet can run outside through the pet door and seek help. There are ways to make pet doors secure if you’re worried about other animals coming in. You can lock them or use a cover. 

Energy Efficiency

There are numerous ways to make your home energy efficient and installing a pet door is one of them. An energy-efficient pet door can keep your utility bills low as it keeps your house warm during the winter and cool in the summer. Installing a pet door into an exterior door won’t compromise the integrity and energy efficiency of the door.

When searching for an energy-efficient pet door, keep these things in mind:

  • The door should withstand high winds with magnets attached around the edges of the flap
  • Be made from insulating materials, like weatherstripping, a double flap system, or an airtight seal
  • Securely seals against extreme weather conditions that will batter the flap opening 
  • Functions adequately during low and high temperatures 

Once you install an energy-efficient pet door, don’t make any alterations to it. Doing so could interfere with its weather-resistant abilities and efficiency.

Improve the Condition of Your Home

With any pet, you’ve likely dealt with plenty of accidents. If you have an older dog or a puppy, you likely have a more difficult time with it. A pet door will ensure your dog is able to go outside when they need to relieve themselves and not have an accident inside. 

Many dogs will scratch at the door to get outside. This can cause gouges and scratches in your door and doorframe. If you’re renting your home, this can be a costly fix whenever you move out. 

Some dogs won’t scratch only on the door. They’ll chew or scratch furniture, walls, and other items when they’re not able to go outside. If you’re gone for an extended period of time, you could come home to a mess. 

Having a pet door installed will solve many of these issues. Some of them may be occurring for other reasons than your pet not being able to get outside. Evaluate each situation if it still continues to occur after you’ve had the pet door installed. 

Things You Should Know Before Installing a Pet Door

Before buying a pet door or a door with a pet door, there are a few things you should know as you start your product search. 

Research What Type of Door You Need

There are many different options of pet doors available. What style you go with depends on your home, your pet’s size, and what features you’re looking for. 

Some of the available pet doors include:

  • Traditional Flap: This is the classic pet door style and can be used on any door in the interior of your home
  • Electric/Magnetic Door: These ones work with your dog’s collar but can be hard to train a dog to use
  • Hard Plastic Lock: Slide a plastic cover on your pet door so unwanted animals or wildlife don’t enter your home

There are advantages and disadvantages to each type. If your dog isn’t familiar with pet doors, you may not want to go with something overly complicated at first. 

Some Training Required

If your dog has never used a pet door before, you might have to train them on how to use it. Some pups understand the concept very quickly but others need a little more guidance. Usually, the ones that need additional help are dogs that have anxiety or fear about the door or being far away from their people. 

Be patient with your dog as you help them figure out how to use the doggy door. Ensure your yard is secure and safe before letting them outside without your supervision. Your pup may start to dig along your fence, so keep an eye on any weak spots before you let them out. 

There are a few things to keep in mind before getting started with your training:

  • Identify their Fear: If your dog is showing signs of anxiety, make sure you don’t use any training methods that would make their fear worse
  • Install the Appropriate Door: Depending on the size of your dog (or dogs), ensure you get the right-sized door so everyone can fit through
  • Make the Training Fun: Keep the experience fun for your dog, modeling it after playtime and rewarding good behavior

There are a few different types of training methods for teaching a dog how to use a pet door. Whatever one you use depends on your dog and how they’re feeling. 

The Fearful Dog Method 

One of the top recommended training methods is the “Fearful Dog Method.” It teaches your dog how to use the pet door without rushing them. 

Follow these steps below:

  • Step One: Have patience with your dog as you begin the training
  • Step Two: Take the flap off of the door and give your dog a treat each time they get close to the door
  • Step Three: Move to the other side of the door and call the dog, giving them a treat through the door each time they get close 
  • Step Four: Hold a treat in your hand a few inches through the pet door, encouraging your dog to put its head through it 
  • Step Five: Once your pet starts to step through the pet door to get their treat, wait until they’re all the way through before giving them their treat
  • Step Six: Put the flap back on the pet door, holding it partially open as you encourage your pup to walk through
  • Step Seven: Once your dog is comfortable with step six, increase your distance away from the door as you call for them
  • Step Eight: Only let your dog go in and out of the house using the pet door until they’re using it confidently

During the training process, you want to treat your dog with patience and compassion. There are a variety of reasons why they’re having trouble using the pet door. You don’t want to give them any extra anxiety by forcing them too quickly. 

The Size of a Pet Door Matters

The size of pet doors ranges from small all the way up to extra-large, accommodating every size of pup. One thing to keep in mind is if your dog is still young. If they’re likely to get bigger, you’ll want to consider that when choosing what size to get. 

Also, if you plan on getting another dog in the future, will it be the same size as your current one? It’s a large investment to install a door with a built-in pet door, especially with installation costs. If you think at some point you may get a bigger dog than what you currently have, you should go up in size. 

A small dog will have no problem using a large dog door. Unfortunately, a large dog won’t be able to use a small pet door. 

You’ll also want to consider the weight of the flap. Bigger flaps can be difficult for smaller dogs to open. 

How to Measure the Size of Door You Need

To figure out the size of the pet door you need to install, you’ll need to take measurements of your pets. 

Follow these steps to find the correct measurements:

  • Face your pet and measure the largest part of your dog (chest or hip) from one side to the other
  • Then, add two inches to calculate the width of the door
  • Measure from the top of your dog’s shoulders to the bottom of its belly or chest
  • Add one inch to that measurement to find the height 

Based on the maximum height and width of your pet, find the right-sized pet door. As was mentioned before, allow for future growth or larger pets. 

The Tech Evolution of Pet Doors

When we think of tech innovations, we likely don’t consider pet doors as having tech features. However, there are electronic pet doors available with microchip sensors. The door will only open or close when it’s triggered by your pet’s microchip sensor. 

Having the door only open for your pet is great for keeping unwanted animals and wildlife out of your house. The door will open and close by itself when your pet is nearby. Microchip sensor pet doors are more secure than a collar sensing one as pets can lose their collars and would then be unable to get back into the house. 

You’re able to also restrict access to keep certain animals indoors while others can go in and out. This feature is wonderful if you have one dog recovering from surgery but another one who needs to access the outdoors. 

Places to Install a Pet Door

Exterior doors are the most common places to install a pet door. Having an exterior door with a built-in pet door makes the process all the more simple.

You can also install a pet door on interior doors in your house. Put a pet door on the door to the garage or laundry room so your pet can access those rooms. This works great for keeping food and water bowls out of the way throughout your home. 

Pet doors can also be installed on the wall of your home. The process is more complicated and expensive since you’re dealing with your home’s insulation and foundation. If you’re having a custom home built, you may consider this option. 

Pet doors can also be installed as inserts for patio doors. They slide into the door’s tracks, giving you the convenience of a pet door without having to do any labor and installation. 

For those with screen doors, you can cut into the screen and install a pet door. Enjoy the ventilation and breeze through your screen door while your pet is able to go in and out as they please. 

Pet Doors May Not Be for Everyone

There are a few things to consider before installing a pet door. If you install a pet door on an exterior door, it could potentially void its warranty. You’ll want to check on that before going through with your project. 

If you have a cat that uses the pet door, they’ll sometimes bring you back their daily “catch.” If that’s something you’re concerned about, you can make it so the cat can’t use the pet door and will need to be let in and out by someone. 

Myths About Pet Doors

Now that you’ve read all the reasons why you should have a pet door installed, let’s talk about some of the myths about them. Even though pet doors are fairly commonplace, there are a few misconceptions about them. 

Myth: All Flaps Are the Same

Flaps are designed differently depending upon what features you’re looking for. Different factors that determine how a flap is designed to include price point, climate, and electronic preferences. 

A weatherproof flap is often heavier than a typical pet door flap. It has additional magnets on it to keep the inside of your home insulated. 

The flaps for electronic pet doors are made from acrylic plastic. A pet door that opens with a collar or microchip signal is usually made from plexiglass. The material will change depending on what the pet door does. 

Myth: Adults Can Get Inside Through a Pet Door

This myth is slightly plausible. The average adult can’t typically fit through a pet door but there have been cases of children locking themselves outside and crawling in through a pet door. It all depends on the size of the person and the pet door. 

If security is a concern, you can install a microchip sensor pet door like we discussed before or have a lockable one. However, some intruders avoid homes that have a large pet door as they know a potentially large animal will be waiting for them on the other side. 

Myth: The Security Cover Can Be Opened Outside

Pet doors come equipped with locking covers so unwanted guests and wildlife can’t access the inside of your home. Place your security cover on the inside of your door so you can control it. 

Most locking doors are made from hard plastic or steel, but there are different types available. Security covers don’t have small openings or tabs for anyone to be able to get it open from the outside. They often have pin locks or latches so they can’t be pushed outward. 

Myth: Pet Doors Can Give Animals a Headache

The only cause for pain to your animal from the pet door is if it’s the wrong size. The flaps in a pet door are usually made from a flexible vinyl material. It’s designed to smoothly pass over your pet’s body. 

Don’t worry about them getting a head injury or headache from using the pet door. They’re made from quality materials that are perfect for your pet to use. 

Myth: You Can Interchange the Flap if They’re the Same Size

The pet door frame size may be compatible with other ones but that doesn’t apply to the flap. There are a variety of flaps available on the market and they’re not all created equal. They’re typically not interchangeable. 

Cutting flaps to fit a pet door isn’t a great idea either. It compromises the integrity of the flap and reduces its energy efficiency. The flap won’t be able to seal properly since its magnets may be in different spots. 

Myth: My Pet Won’t Be Able to Push Through the Door

This can happen sometimes with smaller pets. Providing them with proper training will help give them the confidence to push through the pet door flap. They may feel overwhelmed at first by the flap. 

If you have a smaller dog and don’t intend on getting a large one in the future, make sure you buy a pet door that is appropriate for their size. The bigger the pet door is the heavier the flap. 

You can also adjust or reduce the number of magnets on the flap to make it light enough for smaller pets to push through. 

Myth: Any Door is Perfect for a Pet Door

There are pet doors that are designed to be installed in a door and some that are specially made for walls. One thing to keep in mind when selecting a door for a pet door is its thickness. You want to make sure that it’s strong enough to support your pet door. 

Pet doors that don’t come with their own frame require additional steps while being installed on a hollow-core door. Research each pet door and make sure that your door meets the requirements. You can also go with an exterior door that already has a pet door built-in, making the process all the easier for you. 

Purchase an Exterior Door with a Built-In Pet Door Today

Pet doors provide countless benefits for you and your pets. With an exterior door with a built-in pet door, your pet can easily access their outdoor space. They’ll experience more freedom and you won’t have to worry about the hassle of letting them in and out. 

For more information on pet door installation, contact us today.