Many dog owners would love to be able to leave their dogs outside in the winter, but they know that eight or ten hours in the cold is just too much for their house pet. Leaving the dog indoors the entire time seems like the only option since it just isn't possible to get home for a few hours to let the dog out for some exercise and playtime on those nicer winter days.
If you have a house with a fenced yard, there may be an alternative to either outside all day or inside all day, without the need to have either yourself or someone else driving back and forth to your house. This option is a dog door and if you haven't seen the new models you may not be aware of the changes that have been made in these devices.
In the earliest times a dog door really wasn't a very good option for people living in cold, wet or snowy climates. This is because the doors were literally a square or rectangle cut in your door that was covered with a piece of canvas or heavy plastic. When the wind would blow the cold would come in and the canvas or plastic would ice up and stick open part or all the way. Newer forms of dog doors have all these issues resolved and provide a very effective and easy way for your dog to go inside and out all by themselves.
The most important factor for those considering dog doors living in cold climates is the insulating or sealing aspect of the door. If the dog door makes a tight seal that is still possible for the dog to open then it will work perfectly. The dog will easily be able to go in and out when needed plus your heating bill won't go through the roof each and every fall and winter. A well sealed dog door also prevents insects and dust from entering the house through the door in the warmer summer months.
There are several ways that the flaps on dog doors are held in place. Lower cost units may simply rely on the weight of the flap or panel to hold the door in place, which is often all that is needed if the dog door is placed in a sheltered location out of the wind. Another option is for the flap to have strong magnets placed inside the flap with a corresponding metal bar across the bottom of the door. The bar and magnets will hold the flap in place in the wind but not provide enough resistance for a dog to easy move to enter and exit.
To buy the right sized dog door you will need to know the measurement of the dog from the floor to the highest point of the shoulders when the dog is standing. It is important to not only have the right sized of door but also the right width, so always weigh your dog as well as know the measurement across the widest part of the chest. For some breeds such as the Mastiffs, Bulldogs and the other wide chested breeds this will be important as a door that is too narrow will simply not work for the dog.
Surprising to many dog owners are the sheer number of types of dog doors on the market. Generally double or triple door or double flap models are recommended for cold climates as this actually creates and additional airspace for insulation within the dog door itself. However, there are other options including the heavier styles of doors that don't use flaps but rather solid pieces of Plexiglas or fiberglass that slide or swivel. For a really high tech option you may wish to consider an electronic dog door that opens on its own, allowing the dog to simply jump or step in and out. The dog wears a special collar with a small electronic sending unit. When the dog gets close to the door it opens, then closes after the dog has passed through or moves away from the door. While these can be a bit less energy efficient for older dogs or dogs that are not able or willing to push on a traditional dog door they are a great option.
Dog doors can be mounted in the wall or even in the window or in a sliding glass patio style of door. The dog doors that are designed for long glass windows or patio doors aren't install it yourself types of systems, rather you by the door or window from the manufacturer with the dog door pre-set based on the measurements you provide. These doors are a great option as they can be taken out of the track or frame and moved to a new house or apartment if and when necessary.
Not all dog doors have to mount into the doors of your home either. There are now options for wall mounted units that are ideal for placing in an out of the way area of the room. The only issue is that the ground surface on the outside has to be the same level as the interior room to prevent the dog from having to step up or down when trying to enter or exit.
Dog doors can be customized to match completely with your house color or style. The newer models are extremely lightweight and very easy to install on your own, even if you aren't a handyman. These systems also have built in security features such as the option to lock the door from the inside to keep the dog in or out as well as keep potential intruders from attempting to use the door. Most are also designed so all screws and attachments are on the inside of the door, preventing the dog door from being removed from the outside of the house.
Having a dog door is great for any sized dog to be able to have a run outside but still stay dry and warm in the house. If you are considering one ask your vet, groomer and friends what they recommend and do some reading online of customer reviews to find the dog door that meets your needs as well as that of your dog.