Dog doors, often referred to as doggie doors or pet doors are miniature swinging doors that, installed in a door or wall, will allow your dog or cat access to the backyard without making it necessary for someone to let them in and out.
There are many different sizes of dog doors to accommodate every size pet, and several models. Weather tight models have double doors, one being a thick plastic flap with heavy magnetic hinge, but most dog doors have a single flap or door hinged at the top that swings freely when pushed. The flap might be made of heavy black rubber that simply falls back into place once the pet passes through, or rigid plastic with a magnetic catch.
Since there are times when you might not want your pet to go outside (or come back in), dog doors with rubber flaps often come with a plastic removable door that you can slide into a frame, blocking passage. Models that have rigid plastic swinging flaps have a sliding lock mechanism, preventing the door from being nudged open. Carrying this idea a step further, deluxe models are radio wave operated so that the door remains locked unless a small battery-operated transmitter is present on the pet's collar. When the pet nears the door, the lock is automatically disabled and the pet can pass through. This not only keeps other cats and dogs out, but raccoons, possums and other animals that might enter your house.
Installation involves cutting a square hole through the door or wall, then installing the dog door in this space. Most models come with a template and instructions. A facing frame (that goes inside the house) and backing frame (for the outside) slide into each other through the hole, creating a step-through where the flap hangs. Some models use screws, others snap together.
If you will be installing the dog door in a wall, make sure to buy one that has a deep width or step-through. Conversely, dog doors for screen doors require a shallow width.
When you place the template on the wall or door, take into account how tall your pet is. A dog door for a Chihuahua will need to be placed lower on the door than one for a Labrador. Your pet should be able to step through easily and naturally by just lowering its head to push the door open.
Dog doors and cat doors can also be used inside the house, for bedroom, den or basement doors, or to pass through walls into other rooms. If you have an indoor cat and an attached garage you may prefer to keep kitty's litter box in the garage. A pet door installed in the shared wall solves the problem.
There are also specialty dog doors that are spring-loaded, installed without tools and easily removable, for using with sliding glass patio doors. The dog door installs by placing it in the railing of the open door at one corner, then sliding the door closed to the frame of the dog door. Above the dog door is a spring-fitted tall glass or acrylic pane with aluminum frame that fills the area flush. This makes a weather tight seal but you cannot lock your sliding door when the dog door is in use. While most pet doors are very inexpensive, this type of dog door runs about $200 (U.S.) dollars.