The "ins" and "outs" of pet door types and locations
Bill and Judy are pet owners with a dog that has backyard privileges and a cat that does not. In addition, they have a toddler that likes to go exploring and could very well climb through their pet door, which is sized for a St. Bernard. They also live in a neighborhood where raccoons are known to tear through screen doors in search of food. So which type of dog door would be best for them?
Pet Door Types
In the scenario outlined above, the best choice would be locking pet doors or some kind of electronic or magnetic dog doors. Simple pet doors with flaps are sufficient for many pet owners, but you'll need something more technologically sophisticated if you have multiple pets or other concerns such as young children, pests, or even burglars.
Automatic dog doors come with collar keys or transmitter collars that use either a magnetic field, infrared signal, or ultrasonic signal that "opens" the door, allowing the collar-wearing animal to push through. This selective access is ideal for homes with multiple pets. Even further control can be had by installing electronic dog doors or cat doors with four-way locks that can be set for in only, out only, locked both ways, or open both ways.
The advantage of magnetic pet doors is that they don't require electrical or battery power to function. However, if you have an older or smaller pet that has difficulty opening the flap on its own, you may want to go with electronic pet doors that are motorized. If you're most concerned about human intruders or hungry raccoons, the locking capability of security pet doors should put your mind at ease. Insulated dog doors are recommended if you're living in a region with extreme temperatures.
Pet Door Locations
Electronic dog doors are usually installed in either a door or a wall. Which is best? That depends on your needs. Wall-mounted doors can usually be uninstalled later on with a little restoration work, but an in-door pet door is there to stay. Wherever you install your electronic pet door, just make sure that it's close enough to a power outlet.
Sliding glass dog doors are sometimes an exception to the permanent door scenario. Though a sliding glass pet door can be permanently installed within the glass of a patio door, you could also go with a one-piece insert that's simply positioned at the end of the patio door track. Window dog doors can also be installed in sash-style sliding windows. Another alternative is to use storm door pet doors. This would keep your main door intact, and you'd also be able to limit access to the pet door as necessary simply by closing the main door.
One type of dog door that's often used for pets with limited house privileges is the overhead garage dog door. Though they can be tricky to install, overhead garage dog doors are excellent for giving outdoor pets easy access to shelter.