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Are Dog Doors Safe? Security Concerns Reviewed

Chris Dinesen Rogers

By Chris Dinesen Rogers

Shy Basset hound poking head out of its dog door

People put leashes on their canine companions as early as 8,000 years ago, and archaeological evidence suggests the ancient Egyptians used collars around 2613 BC for ornamental purposes. However, we have found new ways to control our pet’s comings and goings, like the pet door.

A pet door is a handy device if you want to give your pup the freedom to choose when they go outside. There’s no denying the convenience. However, we must also discuss home and pet security when installing one. These concerns are valid but may rest with the idea of them being plausible instead of their reality and probability.

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Pet Safety

Undoubtedly, safety is a major matter for pet owners. You want to rest assured your pup won’t get hurt while using a pet door. That’s why most have rounded instead of square corners. That design modification helps ensure your dog’s coat won’t snag on any sharp edges. That same applies to the materials, particularly the flap.

Some pet owners worry that their dogs won’t learn how to use it, and that can lead to valid safety concerns if your pet needs to get inside the house in the winter or during a storm. It’s also essential for evading predators and aggressive pets. Your pooch will likely figure out how to use a pet door with just a few lessons—and treats!

Many manufacturers have also improved the design of dog doors to make them more energy efficient. They’re less likely to cause drafts or flap in the breeze.

boxer dog los anxious behind the door, separation anxiety
Image Credit: JudaM, Pixabay

Unwanted Visitors

Another consideration is other unwanted animals using the dog door. That includes wild animals and other pets. The former is the least likely of the two since they tend to avoid humans. However, it doesn’t mean they won’t. Several innovations in these products make it even less probable. The appearance of the egress often isn’t obvious to critters looking for a way to get inside your home.

Many manufacturers also include security locks or panels to keep unwanted visitors from entering. Other pet doors include special tags that work with your pup’s existing microchip to provide access only to animals wearing these devices. These features offer effective ways to secure entry to your home and give you welcome peace of mind.

Nonetheless, that may not necessarily prevent your dog from bringing home a friend or a catch, although your cat is probably more likely to surprise you with something unexpected. It’s safe to say that you can find a product that will alleviate these concerns or at least greatly reduce the chances of them occurring.

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Home Invaders

Perhaps the other overriding concern is an unwanted visitor of a different type. Most dog doors are far too small for a person to squeeze through them. Remember that a pet only needs to be able to step through it. It needn’t be the entire height of your pup. Your pooch will instinctively lower their head. However, that’s not to say it’s impossible, especially if you have a large door for a bigger dog.

Our other red flag is access to the door’s lock. Most people think of dog doors as being in, well, the exterior door. Even if an adult couldn’t get inside, they might be able to reach the lock and gain entry the conventional way. However, placement on the opposite side or a sliding bolt above the handle can take care of that issue.

bernese mountain dog watching outside from behind a gate
Image Credit: CatherineGoux, Pixabay

Ways to Make Dog Doors Safer

We like the idea of a smart pet door. It solves two problems: It provides a powerful incentive to microchip your dog, which we advocate, and it also gives your pet exclusive access to your home. Of course, nothing is foolproof. However, we think it’s one of the best ways to secure access to your home.

We also suggest putting your pet’s food and water bowls away from the pet door. Sure, it’s convenient for your dog to get a quick drink or snack. However, it may also lure the critters you don’t want using the door.

As far as unwanted human visitors are concerned, placement is everything. We recommend installing the door in an inconspicuous spot if possible. It’s worth noting that you can get products you can put through a wall or in a window. We’ve also seen ingenious products that use a dog house as a front to conceal the egress. The only downside is teaching your pup to use it since it may take longer.

You can also install the dog door in a garage door and keep the entrance to your home locked. That will make it easier to deal with a raccoon that finds its way inside while still serving its purpose for your pet. We recommend allowing your dog to use the door only when someone is home in case something unexpected happens. Otherwise, keep it locked.

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Final Thoughts

It’s hard to beat the convenience of a dog door for you and your pup. They have outdoor access whenever they choose without having to disturb you. These products are safe for the most part. Common sense tells you to treat it like any other entrance to your home. Keep it locked at night and when not in use. It’s also helpful to conceal it from any person or animal that shouldn’t use it.

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Featured Image Credit: Dmussman, Shutterstock

Chris Dinesen Rogers

Authored by

Chris is an experienced pet writer specializing in science topics, with a particular passion for health and the environment. She has been a writer for over 15 years and lives with her husband and three cats in Michigan. Beyond writing about cats and dogs, Chris loves to learn about wine. She has WSET 1 and 2 certifications and is currently pursuing her Certified Wine Specialist Award (CSW).

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