Here in the UK where the majority of pet cats are permitted to go outside freely, cat flaps are hugely common and virtually essential for indoor-outdoor cats, in order to prevent you wasting large portions of your life waiting for the cat to decide whether they want to be in or out! Dog doors on the other hand-essentially, a larger catflap style arrangement to allow your dog a similar sort of freedom-are much less common, and many dog owners do not even realise that they exist!
In contrast, in the USA, few cats go outside and so catflaps are uncommon, and you are much more likely to spot a dog door opening onto an enclosed yard or garden. Given that dog doors are so popular with dog owners in America, it is somewhat surprising that they have not really taken off over here in the UK-but also, some good reasons for why they are not widely used.
In this article, we will consider dog door or dog flaps, how they work, and the benefits and shortfalls of them when it comes to providing your dog with access outside. Read on to learn more.
However, while catflaps come in a huge range of different styles-such as ones designed to respond to the cat’s collar tag or microchip to allow access but keep other cats out, or that have catches on them to allow you to set the type of access that you require, dog doors are usually more simple.
They may consist of a larger entrance much like a cat flap, with a plastic panel that your dog has to push, or they may be constructed of rubber strips that your dog pushed through, and which close together again to keep out bad weather and wind.
Generally, training a dog to use a door flap that is the right size and style for them is pretty easy-as anyone who has ever come home to see their dog with their head stuck out of the catflap will tell you!
So, why do people get dog doors? The reasons are numerous! For some people that work all day, having a dog door allows the dog to let themselves out to do their business, explore the garden or yard, and if it is hot, choose whether or not they would rather be in or out.
This also provides some extra stimulus for the dog if they are on their own for a while, and allows them to have a change of environment, stretch their legs and generally break up their day.
If your dog often needs to go out to the toilet in the night too, having a dog flap and teaching your dog how to use it can mean a full night’s sleep for you, as your dog can do what they need to do without waking you!
Whilst a dog flap or dog door is certainly worth bearing in mind for certain people and their dogs in certain situations, there is a lot to think about and a dog door should not be treated as permission to leave your dog alone for long periods of time, nor to neglect their exercise.
If you are thinking about putting in a dog door, one of the most important considerations is the environment that your dog will emerge into on the other side of the door. Dogs are adept escape artists when it suits them, so unless the area the door opens into has a high, secure wall, the potential concern of escape or theft of your dog is a very real consideration.
Additionally, you must think about what would happen if someone came into the enclosure for any reason-from needing to knock your door or deliver your post, to what might happen if a child decided to climb over to retrieve a ball-in terms of safety. Even very kind, welcoming dogs can be territorial, and one of the main issues here is that you will only have seen how this manifests when you yourself are present. Some of the nicest dogs can turn defensive when their owner is not present if someone else comes onto their territory, and you will be liable in this case for your dog’s actions.
You should also think about how safe and sensible your dog will be about it all too-are they apt to try to get out, get into a problem or otherwise place themselves at risk without supervision outside? Finally, a larger dog flap or one that puts the locks of the door itself within reach can pose a potential security risk for your home, which may make you a target for burglary.
All of these things mean that while a dog flap might be a viable idea if you will be at home when it is in use, you should think very carefully before setting up a dog flap for when you are out. Ultimately, the decision is one that you alone can make, but taking into account all of these points can help you to make the right choice.