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Here's What You Should Know Before Installing a Pet Door

[Updated: Nov 19, 2020 ] Jun 07, 2020 by Aly J. Yale
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If you have a dog (or any outdoor pet), then doggy doors can be a huge convenience. There's no getting up and down to let Fluffy or Fido outside, and you probably cut down on in-house accidents, too (yay for your carpet!)

But pet doors aren't for everyone. And if you're not careful, they could even pose a security issue.

Want to make sure you're making the right decision for your home and family? Here's what you need to know before installing a pet door on the property.

Your pet's size, breed, and age matters

Pet doors come in all types and sizes, and the best one really depends on the pet you're using it for. If you've got a small tabby who just likes to venture outdoors once in a while, then the smallest model will probably do. But if you've got a collie and labrador retriever on your hands, you're probably going to have to get out the measuring tape and size your furry friends up.

You'll also need to think about how big they'll get later on. If your animals are young, then chances are they're going to grow as they get older. Study up on their breed and get an idea of what size they might max out at. You'll want to buy and install a door for that size -- not the animal's current size today. (Installing, let alone taking out and replacing, a doggy door isn't so easy. You're better off just doing it once.)

You should think about local weather, too

Make sure you take your climate into consideration before getting a pet door. If you're in an extra hot or wet area, you might want to invest in a higher-quality model to keep the elements out. Double-paned doors may be a good option if there's lots of rain or snow, and you might go for an energy-efficient model if you want to make sure A/C doesn't escape in warmer climes.

There are lots of options for placement

Most people install their pet doors in the backdoor or a screen door, but those aren't your only options. There are also models that go in windows, sliding doors, and even exterior walls. Take a long look at your property, and decide what placement would work best for your home's layout and features.

You may want to call in a pro

You can definitely install a doggy door yourself, but it's not always the easiest undertaking -- especially if you choose a more complicated model, like an exterior wall door. If you're on the fence about your DIY skills, consider calling in a professional contractor to handle the job. They'll make sure the door is installed properly (and in an aesthetically pleasing way), and that it doesn't hurt your home's marketability when it comes time to sell.

Your furry friend may not use it right away

There's no "If you build it, he will come" here. Just because the door is up and ready doesn't mean Fido's going to use it. In fact, they might even be scared of the contraption initially. Be prepared to spend some time encouraging and training your pet on using the door. You might even need some treats on hand to ease the process.

It can let things in, too

Finally, think about the home security issue your dog door can pose. Sure, it will give your furry friends access to the great outdoors, but it can also let unwanted visitors inside your house. That means wildlife, bugs, and maybe even burglars. If you have kiddos, they might even play with it, going in and out and potentially hurting themselves. Make sure all these possibilities are on your radar before installing one on your property.

The bottom line

There are definite advantages to having a pet door in your home, but it's not a decision you should make lightly. Consider all the angles, take into account your unique pet and local climate, and call in a pro if you're not confident in your skills for installing it.

And when you get ready to sell the home, be prepared to remove the door (and any other signs of Fluffy or Fido.) According to the National Association of Realtors, potential buyers don't want to see your pets -- or smell them.

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