Raccoons, opossums, stray cats…these are just some of the uninvited guests who may make their way through your pet’s doggie door, according to the Humane Society of the United States. While a stray cat or neighbor’s dog may just present an extra mouth to feed, a wild animal may very well carry in disease, along with an inclination to bite if it’s scared.
Technology has developed a solution: electronically operated doggie doors that will allow only your own pet inside, either through sensors that allow for facial recognition, a microchip that identifies your dog and your dog only, or a gizmo on your dog’s collar. All serve as a dog’s own private “Open Sesame” when he approaches. As the dog moves away from the entrance, the door closes on its own. Another advantage is that these doors protect against the elements much better than a flap that a dog pushes through.
We don’t recommend a doggie door for a very small dog that weighs just a few pounds and can be carried away by a raptor or be easily attacked by a larger animal. Ditto for larger dogs if your area has coyotes, bears, or other animals that could take on a good-sized canine. In such cases, when your dog is out in the backyard, you should be, too.
You also want to consider cost. Electronic pet doors are not cheap. Many brands cost hundreds of dollars.
But if your dog is at least medium size and potentially dangerous animals do not roam your neighborhood — or at least do not roam it at certain times of year — a door that allows only your own dog to go out to your fenced back yard and then come back in at will might be just the thing to increase his environmental enrichment without risking visitation by other animals.
Bear in mind that it may take a bit for some dogs to recognize that the idea is not to push against the door to get in but to wait a moment for the door to open on its own as they approach.