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  • 71 Models Considered
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    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.


    Shopping Guide for Best Pet Doors

    Whether you're the proud parent to a dog or a cat, pet doors offer a convenient solution for letting your four-legged friend in and out of the yard.

    Pet doors give your four-legged companions the freedom to go out of the house into the backyard or some such area to stretch their legs and expend that extra energy by running around, chasing leaves.

    A pet door is also advantageous in letting your pets take care of their business so they don’t accidentally make a mess inside the house in case you get delayed taking them out at their regular time.

    But what makes a good pet door, and how do you choose the right one for your four-legged friend?

    The choice can be overwhelming, especially for first-time buyers.

    You'll find different pet doors for dogs and cats, cat doors being significantly smaller than dog doors.

    If you feel lost and in need of some assistance, you've come to the right place.

    At BestReviews, we're dedicated to helping you find your ideal products!

    In order to aid you in selecting the perfect pet door, we did extensive product research, gathered feedback from existing customers, and spoke with our expert pet consultant, Nicole.

    The resulting review and product guide will tell you all you need to know about pet doors, so read on to get the lowdown.

    Nicole Ellis
    EXPERT CONSULTANT

    Nicole has been training animals for over 15 years, from bears and tigers to household dogs. A member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, she has been certified by the American Kennel Club as a Canine Good Citizen evaluator and she focuses on positive reinforcement methods so that training is always fun. Every year, Nicole attends SuperZoo, the largest pet product showcase, to research new pet products from cat litter to electric dog toys and she loves sharing what she finds with other pet parents.


    Nicole Ellis  |  Professional Pet Trainer

    Types of Pet Doors

    Types

    Soft Plastic Pet Doors

    Soft plastic pet doors have flexible, soft plastic flaps for your pet to push his way through.

    Pros:

    • Soft plastic pet doors are ideal for cats and small dogs who might not feel confident going through hard plastic flaps.

    • Many soft plastic pet doors are relatively inexpensive.
       

    Cons:

    • Some basic, soft plastic pet doors don't lock at all, and most that do have a separate slide-in or clip-on panel, which is much less convenient than other options.

    • Soft plastic pet doors aren't as durable as hard plastic models.
       

    Price: You can find small, basic models for less than $10. Large, high-end options can cost $60 to $80.

    EXPERT TIP

    For multi-dog families, remember the door needs to be low enough for the smallest dogs and tall enough for the biggest dogs to get through it.


    Nicole Ellis  | Professional Pet Trainer

    Hard Plastic Pet Doors

    Hard plastic pet doors have heavier, sturdier doors, made from rigid plastic.

    Pros:

    • Hard plastic pet doors are easier and more convenient to lock.

    • You'll find most hard plastic pet doors are more durable and secure than soft plastic models.
       

    Cons:

    • Some pets feel less confident pushing their way through a hard plastic door.

    • High-end hard plastic pet doors can be expensive.
       

    Price: While you can find some basic hard plastic cat doors around the $10 to $20 mark, larger models suitable for dogs cost at least $30 to $40, with high-end units fetching as much as $500.

    EXPERT TIP

    Take the material and weight of the door into account. If you have a cat or small dog, a heavy solid door that may hit or rub your pet’s back as she enters and exits could be frightening. A more timid animal may feel more comfortable with a door she can see through, instead of a solid state door.


    Nicole Ellis  | Professional Pet Trainer
    Types

    Collar-Activated Pet Doors

    These pet doors are designed to open only for pets that are wearing a special chip-containing tag on their collar.

    Pros:

    • Collar-activated pet doors are designed to stop unwanted visitors from entering your house — for instance, neighborhood cats or wildlife.

    • If you have multiple pets, and some are allowed to go in and out of the house freely but others aren't, a collar-activated pet door is ideal.

    • Most collar-activated pet doors are very sturdy and secure.
       

    Cons:

    • You may find there's a bit of a learning curve figuring out how to set and program a collar-activated pet door.

    • Collar-activated pet doors are usually more expensive than other options.
       

    Price: You can find collar-activated pet doors starting around $60, with sliding electronic models costing up to $600.

    EXPERT TIP

    If security is a concern, especially with large dogs where a human or other animal can easily fit through the door, there are collar-activated doors that only allow your pet to come and go and no one else.


    Nicole Ellis  | Professional Pet Trainer

    Considerations for Selecting a Pet Door

    Considerations

    Size

    Pay close attention to both the height and the width of your chosen pet door, to make sure your furry friend can comfortably fit through it.

    You'll find the door measurements in the product description, but you may need to get out your trusty measuring tape to measure your pet, if you're not sure whether he'll fit.

    EXPERT TIP

    Your pet should easily fit through the door — you don’t want it rubbing on her fur and causing an irritation. The door should be two inches above shoulder height and two inches wider than your pet's shoulders or hips.


    Nicole Ellis  | Professional Pet Trainer
    Considerations

    Installation Type

    The most common pet door installation type is door-mounted, where the pet door is fitted to hole in the door to your yard.

    However, you can also buy wall-mounted units, or pet doors that fit into sliding patio doors.

    Think about which variety works best for you, depending on which type of door you have and where it's positioned in relation to your yard.

    EXPERT TIP

    Most people are used to seeing pet doors in the back door of a house but you can also install one directly in a wall, allowing your pet to have her own entrance into any part of the house.


    Nicole Ellis  | Professional Pet Trainer
    Considerations

    Locking Mechanism

    Different pet doors have different types of locking mechanisms — and some don't lock at all.

    We've already discussed automatically locking/unlocking collar-activated pet doors, which are an excellent option.

    You can also find pet doors that lock with a bolt, with the press of a button, or with the flick of a switch, all of which are quite convenient.

    Some basic pet doors, however, have a separate panel that slides into place to block entry. This is the least convenient option, and isn't ideal, especially if you lock and unlock your pet door every day.

    EXPERT TIP

    Families with young children should be careful that the children don’t exit the home unattended via the pet door.


    Nicole Ellis  | Professional Pet Trainer
    Considerations

    Frame Material

    The majority of pet doors have plastic frames, but you can also find a handful of models with metal or wooden frames.

    As long as the plastic is heavy duty it should stand the test of time, unless your dog is a keen chewer, in which case you might be better off splashing out for a metal option.

    Wooden frames aren't always the most durable and will degrade over time, but some people find them more aesthetically pleasing if mounted in a wooden door.

    EXPERT TIP

    If you have a dog prone to breaking and chewing things I would consider other materials than plastic.


    Nicole Ellis  | Professional Pet Trainer

    Tips

    • You may want to look for a pet door with a frame that matches the color of the door or wall you mount it into.

    • Our expert, Nicole, has a tip for kitten or puppy parents: "Consider your pet's size when full grown when shopping for a door — you don’t want to have to install a new one in just four months."

    • You can find electronic pet doors that slide up as your pet approaches ,and down again once she's safely through the door. These are usually collar-activated.

    • Look out for weatherproof pet doors that won't leak or become easily damaged in extreme weather.

    • Make sure your yard is completely secure if you're going to let your dog freely in and out through a pet door.

    • Some pet doors have timers, so that they won't let your pet out past a certain hour. This is useful if you're trying to curb your cat's nocturnal wanderings or your dog's midnight barking sessions.

    Some pet doors can be set to in-only or out-only modes. For instance, if your cat is still out when you go to bed, and you'd prefer she stay in overnight, you can set the door to in-only, so she can enter through the pet door when she returns, but can't go back out again.

    FAQ

    Q. What if my pet doesn't like going through his door at first?

    A. Our expert, Nicole has shed some light on this common issue. "Don’t be surprised if your pet won’t go through the door immediately — it’s something new and not familiar for him. Practice holding up the flaps and calling him through the door. As your pet goes through the door, verbally praise him and reward with a treat. Once this is easy for your pet, try putting down the flap and calling your pet from the other side. Remember to use lots of praise as he goes through the door. In no time your pet will be coming and going through on his own."

    Q. Are pet doors difficult in install?

    A. Unless you're a DIY expert, you'll probably find a pet door very difficult to install. You'll need specialist tools and a very steady hand. As such, we recommend that most people have their pet door installed by a professional, especially if you opt for a wall-mounted model.

    Q. Where should I position my pet door?

    A. Most people place their pet doors in their back door, leading out to the back yard. However, this doesn't work for everyone, because the door to your yard might not be in a convenient location, or you might not have a door to the area you want to let your pets into. In this case, a wall-mounted unit might serve you better, as you have more flexibility about where you can position it.

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