Judah will be needing to pee at some point...
March 16, 2012 12:10 PM   Subscribe

Any of you have any experience with high-tech dog doors?

My wife and I want to install a self-opening dog door in our house so that our beloved dog Judah can let himself in and out as he pleases while we're at work during the day. Anyone have any experience with these things?

Our main concerns are security and reliability. We'd just put a regular dog door in, but we don't want someone to be able to crawl through it while we're not home (Judah is loud, but not very fearsome). We have a dog walker a couple of days a week, and I take Judah out in the mornings for exercise, but we commute to the city and cannot afford a dog walker every day. We've tried just leaving him in the back yard all day too, but he hates it and we feel weird doing it.

So, are these doors a good option?
posted by Pecinpah to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Dog doors are always going to be a point of weakness. A couple questions, though - how big is Judah? Are 'normal' dog doors for his size really big enough for someone to crawl through?

A determined burgler will get in. I'm not sure how 'high tech' you want to go. I haven't seen fabulous reviews for fully motorized doors. We did have one for our cat that just moved a latch (instead of the entire 'door' piece up and down) that allowed the door flap to swing that worked well.

I'm sure there are inventive ways to make a standard dog door more secure/more difficult to access for a human versus a dog where you wouldn't have to depend on motorized mechanisms that would act as a deterent.

As I said, if someone wants to break in, they most likely will. But if you are looking for locking doors, one where the latch moves/unlocks versus the entire door are more reliable in my experience.
posted by rich at 12:35 PM on March 16, 2012

We bought the regular flap dog doors. We decided against a high tech door because while it might keep out small critters, we figured that a human would just kick it in. It's good that Judah is loud, because that might be enough to ward off any potential burglars (at least this is our hope).

Take Judah to a pet store and figure out the smallest hole he can get through and buy that size. You might think he needs a medium door, when really he can get by with a small. My experience is that most dogs can fit through holes much smaller than you think.

I would also suggest installing a deadlock high enough up on the door so a potential intruder cannot reach through and unlock the doorknob. Other than that, you just have to hope for the best as far as security goes. Being able to get in and out as he pleases will improve Judah's quality of life dramatically, which is totally worth the risk.
posted by wherever, whatever at 1:05 PM on March 16, 2012

Unanswerable without dog pictures.

All of the regular dog doors I've ever seen come with a metal plate that slides into channels on either side of the door, usually with some kind of locking mechanism or place for a lock.

But, wouldn't a dog door big enough for a burglar to get through be a red flag for a burglar? I mean... it means there's a fairly large dog on the other side of that hole you're about to be vulnerable crawling through.
posted by cmoj at 1:11 PM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are doors like this one that are a little more secure than a flap. But assuming you have a fenced yard with a locked gate, between the lock and the giant dog door I think you'd look like more trouble than someone down the street.

I've long had various kinds of dog doors and I suspect that the dogs themselves are the primary deterrent. It's not that they might be vicious, but they might be loud and/or trouble.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:14 PM on March 16, 2012

Our neighbor had a "high-tech" doggie door similar to this one. There is a little sensor that you attach to their collar, and the door will only open when the sensor is close. He seemed to like it a lot. You can also take the sensor off when you don't want them to be able to go outside... i.e. after a bath, or when its raining, or you have workers in the back yard. I've really considered getting one myself for our dogs.
posted by Quincy at 2:53 PM on March 16, 2012

Some burglars don't care about dogs. There was a comment on AskMe once, and this. But I think usually burglars are criminals of opportunity, and a place with a dog just looks like hassle. The rule of thumb is you don't need to be faster than the bear, just faster than the other guy, so make your place look less tempting. Put a sign out front that shows a fierce dog. Put a sign out front for a fake burglar alarm company. That sort of thing.
posted by dhartung at 11:35 PM on March 16, 2012

A dog door needs to be big enough to accomodate the height of his torso, not his entire height. Think small.
posted by waldo at 8:40 AM on March 17, 2012

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