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Pet Door Info | Pet Doors FAQ

About Pet Doors

The consumer market for pet doors has increased over the past decade from the traditional dog or cat door that has a hanging flap. In the past, models were simplistic and functional to a fault. They rarely had features that would provide a quality seal or flexibility of control. Competition was minimal between manufacturers, as well as, limited in regard to consumer choice. It was a rarity to find a pet door in any brick and mortar store locally , and still a more rare find to discover that if there was a unit available, that it was the correct size or install variety that the customer desired. As mentioned over the last decade we see more types and varieties offered for the general buying public. With the development of the competitive market, the landscape had another detrimental affect as a result of this new competition; repetition and duplication of design.

Types of Pet Door?

Pet Doors can be broken into specific categories when it comes to types. Flexible Flap versions, rigid or hard flap models, and automatic models that open when the pet approaches. By far the most popular and effective style is the flexible flap version. There are several reasons that this design is not only the most effective, but also the better choice for most breeds of pets. Rigid Flap pet doors also consist of a interior and exterior frame assembly, but instead of a flexible flap, they utilize rigid flaps. Rigid or hard flaps can be beneficial for certain scenarios, but the effectiveness of them largely depends on the material used in their construction. Dog Kennel doors are an example of rigid flap door use. Often kennel facility owners want to be able to use a pet door to minimize energy costs. Rigid flap doors are a common solution for these environments. For some, the pet door must be chew proof, as they may house dogs with destructive behavior. Other facilities choose flexible flap versions because they typically are easier for the dogs to use and will provide a better weather seal. Rigid flap doors for general residential use are not as popular. As a rule, flexible flap doors are easier to use for dogs of any size as well as cats. Rigid flap varieties generally have weight to the flap that is often an irritant to a pets back and may cause them to shy away from using the pet door. Automatic or electronic doors are the third general type of model offered. Electronic doors are triggered through a variety of methods, and the opening action can vary as well. These doors are described in more detail below.

Flexible Flap Pet Door

The flexible flap version usually consists of two frames, interior and exterior. Typically (For reasons that are illogical to nearly every consumer), the flap is attached to the interior frame. Most often a panel slides in from the top into a housing built into the interior frame to lock off the unit when it is advantageous to keep the pet indoors or outside. This simple basic version, accounts for 85% of the products offered today. There are basically two versions of flexible flap doors; single and dual flap models.

The single flap pet door, as mentioned previously, typically has the flap attached to the interior frame. This sometimes causes a problem from a weather protection stand point. Higher quality models feature the flexible flap on the exterior side of the door unit. This provides for better weather protection in regard to rain and wind. When the flap in mounted on the exterior, the inside of the frame assembly is protected.

Dual flap pet doors feature a flexible flap on the interior and the exterior side of each frame holds a flap. The dual flap versions are the most common and have the higher customer satisfaction rate as they also insulate the pet opening. They are also more resistant to outside weather such as wind, rain and snow. There are several models available on the market with varying degrees of effectiveness. For comparative review, the MaxSeal Pet Door manufactured by Security Boss is considered to be the dominate leader in quality and design when it comes to insulating, weather sealing and security when compared to all models on the market.

Electronic | Automatic Pet Door

Pet Doors that are electronic vary in design, but have much in common. The main reason people purchase an electronic door is to regulate the access of a pet or animal. These types always control access into the house. Some models also regulate the exit of animals from the house. In all models, your pet is required to wear a collar activation tag. Electronic models can be activated ny a magnet, sonic frequency or and RFID signal. There are benefits and drawbacks to each of these activation methods. Magnet triggered doors are the most reliable. The reason for this is that there is little to go bad or malfunction with a magnet. The worse case is that your pet may lose the collar tag. Magnetic versions also do not differentiate between multiple pets that are wearing magnet collar tags. This drawback is not usually an issue, unless your neighborhood is crawling with pets wearing magnetic tags.

Sonic or frequency activated electronic pet doors, are another design. This design is relegated to only one manufacturer. Sonic activated pet doors do not have a dominate benefit over other activation types. A collar transmitter sends the signal to the door. Controlling the distance away from the door that the activation takes place tends to be problematic. For example, the door may activate if the pet is 3ft away from the door or 25 feet away from the door. Another drawback in the sonic design is that customers tend to replace the collars quite frequently. This does become an issue as replacement collars are expensive. Dogs and cats tend to get into 'wet' environments with frequency. Cats will walk thru moist or wet grasses on their daily patrols, dogs have a hard time ignoring ponds, streams etc., not to mention the dreaded collar dip into the water bowl.

RFID versions are the second most reliable form of electronic doors. A collar tag features and embedded antenna that reflects a passive signal to the pet door sensor, causing it to unlock. This type of activation is found in cat doors as well as fully automatic opening models. The benefit to this design is that a unique 'user' can activate and use the pet door. A magnetic or sonic collar will not activate this type of door. Also, you can have several pets using unique RFID tags programmed to the door so that they can use the unit.

Electronic Pet Door Security

An electronic unit is thought by many to be more 'safe' that other versions or models of pet doors. This is a huge myth. Electronic pet doors control the access of pets, they are not designed to be a deterrent to criminal behavior. If the main the reason for an electronic pet door is criminal protection, then you are much better off choosing a pet door with a beefy and strong security panel that you manually lock off the pet door. Be aware that 99% of pet doors with a slide in locking panel are not considered to be 'safe' for this concern. There is only one model on the market that features a strong enough security panel to deter criminal behavior, the MaxSeal by Security Boss. All of the MaxSeal Pet door models include a half inch insulated, rugged, baseball bat proof locking panel. There are the only pet door we have found that would enable a customer to go on vacation, leaving their home vacant, without the worry of access through the pet door into the home. All other models have a thin plastic or tin locking panel that can give way with a solid kick. Given some of these electronic parameters, one should consider if they really indeed need an electronic pet door.

Determine the Type of Pet Door you require

You will see that pet doors are basically broken down into two major classes of doors. That would be Manual (Flap design) or Electronic (Controlled access). The Manual pet doors (Specifically the dual flap doors) are your better sealing and insulating pet doors. Single flap doors are used in situations where an insulating effect is not warranted. Electronic Pet doors control the access of pets and in a few doors are designed to keep out other animals. Pay close attention to the notes and descriptions we have on these doors as this controlling action does vary. Most dog owners find that they do not have issues with other animals that enter a pet opening. Dogs in particular are territorial and do not entertain sharing their pet door. All doors will lock or have a slide in security locking panel to close off the pet opening. Most will lock off the dog door at night or when away.

Where Should I Install a Pet Door?

Pet doors are made to be installed just about anywhere. This ranges from the traditional wall mount or door mounts to window pet doors and patio sliding glass doors. Everyone's home is different and if you can prioritize the best places that you could use a dog or pet door then you can quickly see what doors will work in those situations.

Make Sure you have Selected the Appropriate Size Pet Door for your Pet(s).
It seems to often that when we speak with customers about the size of pet door they are considering, we find that many times it would be too small. You will want to keep the size your pet could attain, the type of breed (Arthritis and physical problems are more prevalent in some dog breeds versus others) and especially is the outside ground is on the same plane as your interior flooring.

As a rule of thumb:
Pet openings should be mounted so that the top of the opening is 1.5-2" higher than the pets shoulders and low enough to the ground so their legs will not scrape and allow for easy access as they age.