How Do Dog Doors Work?

Filed in Dog Products by on August 11, 2021

how do dog doors work

Want your dog to go to the bathroom outside but don’t want to constantly open the back door?

If so, then a dog door may be your solution. You can easily train dogs how to use dog doors, and you’ll lessen the chance of accidents in the house.

You can also invest in artificial grass for your dog if looking for an easy way to clean up after your dog either indoors or outdoors.

But how do dog doors work? In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of dog doors and how they work.

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How Do Dog Doors Work in General?

Doggy doors, also known as pet flaps, consist of small cutouts in walls, doors, or windows. They allow your pet to go outside and come back in on their own.

Most dog doors generally work the same way. Your dog approaches the dog door and usually slightly pushes on the flap to open it, then they walk through or come back through the opening. Pet flaps are lightweight and won’t harm your dog.

Even though most dog doors work similarly, their details can vary depending on the type of dog door you use.

For instance, electronic dog doors operate with electronic programming, while basic dog doors simply require manual pushing for your pet to open them.

The type of dog door can affect how your dog enters or leaves the house, and or how the dog approaches it.

Specific Types of Dog Doors and How They Work

Door-Mounted Canine Gate

When you think of a dog door, you probably picture the door-mounted dog door. It consists of the classic flap that opens when your dog presses to go in or out. It’s mounted on a door rather than the wall. One popular model is the PetSafe Extreme Weather Energy Efficient Pet Door.

Some of these dog doors come with two or three flaps for extra insulation. Extra insulation is a good idea if you live in more extreme weather.

The only negative these have is that since it’s a simple flap, wildlife and your neighbor’s pets may find their way inside.

Intruders could also possibly use the dog door to gain access into a home. Children sometimes find their way outside from a dog door as well. If you prefer a door-mounted dog door, find one that offers a type of lock or security option.

The door-mounted dog door is one of the most simple dog doors to install as a DIY project. But keep in mind if you make a mistake, you may have to pay a professional to fix it.

Wall-Mounted Canine Gate

Wall-mounted dog doors are pretty common in houses. Instead of being mounted in a back door, they’re mounted into a hole cut into a wall.

Oftentimes, they have a flap that keeps bugs, pets, and weather out. Your dog can easily push through the flap to leave and come back in.

Depending on the thickness of your wall, they may require a small tunnel for your dog to get all the way through. You’ll also need to cut a hole into the wall.

This is one of the most complex dog doors to install, so you’re most likely better off hiring a professional than trying to do it yourself.

Electronic Canine Gate

Like traditional dog doors, electronic dog doors are often installed in a doorway. But since they’re electric, you can program them to only open and close for your dog.

PetSafe offers a popular and affordable Electronic Smart Door for dogs, which is activated by their collar.

Electronic dog doors are ideal if you’re concerned about anything else entering your home, whether it’s other animals, intruders, or weather.

Electronic doors have varying designs. Some simply open and close automatically. Others have programming options that let you control when and who they open for.

There are a few different ways you can program an electronic dog door. You can program it to react to a vet-inserted microchip in your pet; that way it recognizes when your pet is trying to use it.

Or you can find one that’s programmable to different times of day or schedules.

Sliding Door Canine Gate

A sliding door dog door insert can be installed on a sliding glass door. It’ll replace a small part of your door with the dog door.

Your door will still be operable, but part of it will remain closed for the dog door opening. Since they include a full-length section of a sliding glass door, they can be more expensive than other options.

Keep in mind your pet has to step over this kind of door to go out and in. Some manufacturers make “step-overs” so it’s easier for your dog to get in and out, especially as he ages.

You can install this kind yourself, but keep in mind that it’s more complex so it might be better to get a professional.

Window-Mounted Canine Gate

Window-mounted dog doors are a good option for renters or homeowners who don’t want to modify their homes.

Some window-mounted dog doors come with a locking cover so you can partially open a window while leaving a flap open for your dog. You can also close the window when you’d like to secure it.

Window-mounted dog doors are a variation of the sliding door dog door. You can find doors that fit through a sliding glass door or for different kinds of windows.

Considerations When Choosing a Canine Gate

Door with installed pet door


Insulation is important if you live in an area with extreme weather, such as very cold winters or very hot summers.

You don’t want your dog door to affect your controlled home temperature. If you need good insulation, verify your dog door has one of the following:

  • Insulated flap
  • Double flap
  • Magnets
  • Weatherstripping
  • Any fasteners that keep it shut

Any kind of dog door can have good insulation. Ensure your dog door matches its offerings by making sure it contains something on this list.


A regular dog door flap can let anyone or anything into your home. All dog doors should come with locks that allow you to shut the dog door when you need it to be secure.

Some dog doors may have levers or knobs that allow you to manually lock the door. Some small dog doors may not have locking features, but they may come with anti-raccoon features.

Some flaps come tinted as well, to prevent burglars from spying into your home.

Electronic doors can use technology to recognize your dog’s chip, which will only allow your dog to use it. Some other units can be controlled remotely, which gives you access to lock or unlock them.


Different dog doors require different installations. The easiest dog door installments are sliding door dog doors and window-mounted dog doors because you don’t need to create a new opening.

You can simply open the door or window and install the unit.

Wall-mounted and door-mounted dog doors are a different story. For those, you need to cut holes into the wall or door, so you may be better off hiring a professional to install your dog door.

If you have an electronic dog door, you may need to program it for the settings you want.


Once you know how dog doors work, you can pick the one that’s best for you and your dog.

While dog doors have the same basic concept, each works differently depending on the specific type you choose.

You’ll save lots of time by no longer having to open and close the back door for your furry friend.

Pick which one would be best for your home, then decide what you need as far as security options, insulation, and installation. Your dog will thank you.

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