A perfectly measured sliding dog door makes for a happy dog!

10 Myths About Pet Doors: Exposed

Pet Doors are a great way to have a happy and healthy pup. There are so many options, how does anyone choose? The first step is separating facts from fiction. Pet Door experts have come together to tackle the top 10 pet doors myths!

#1 Myth: All Flaps are Made Equal

Various pet door flaps

Not true! Pet doors are conceptually similar, but different pet doors are designed for specific purposes. Factors that determine how a flap is made include climate, electronic preferences, and economical choice.

Weather proof flaps tend to be slightly heavier than the average flap, with additional magnets to keep insulation value high. With electronic pet doors, flaps are made of acrylic plastic. These flaps are sized for small dogs and cats. Automatic pet doors that open upon reading a collar key signal, have flaps made of plexiglass and for larger pets. Be sure to prioritize your needs along with that of your pet so you both are happy.

#2 Myth: Breeds Have a Standard Size

Not true! Measuring your pet is necessary for all breeds. Although your pet may seem average for their breed, you should still bring out the tape measure!

It is important to make sure your furry friend will fit through their door since they will using it every day. It is recommended to measure your pet from feet to shoulder, and have the top of the pet door flap installed at least one inch above their back to ensure a comfortable pass.

With this in mind, check the flap width too, so your pet does not get stuck. A good homemade trick is to cut a hole in cardboard to act as a guide. An additional item to consider is the step over. This is the space between the ground and your pet door. The step over needs to be taken into account when you are choosing a flap size. For more visual information, check out this Measure Your Pet guide with a video included.

#3 Myth: Pet Doors are Made Only for Doors

window dog doorNot true!
As every pet is different, so is every home. Doors for pets are now made to be installed in a variety of places within the house. Besides doors and walls, pet doors can be installed in windows, screens, the cabinet where the litter box hides, storm doors, and even closets! As there are many hang out spots in the house, there are just as many doors to fit your pup’s lifestyle. Options for sliding glass doors and windows are wonderful if you are renting your home and you can’t actually cut any holes anywhere!

#4 Myth: Adults Crawl through Pet Doors to get Inside

Possibly… If you worry about security, even having a back door with dog door can be a tough decision to make. While electronic doors can act as a solution for this potential issue, wearing a collar key might not be an ideal situation for you or your pet. A pet door may only be big enough for the average person to pop their head in without a locking cover. secure locking cover for pet doorThat person also runs the risk of meeting your protective pup! Intruders would likely fear a home with a large pet door, as they don’t know how friendly the dog on the other side might be. If you are worried about break-ins while you and your dog are away, you can also invest in an additional security cover for your pet door.

While pet doors halt the average adult from entering the house, there have been instances where children forget their house key and are able to crawl through. On the other hand, electronic doors are also a great way to keep babies or small children from getting stuck or going outside. A pet door can be secured from unwanted individuals, but can also serve as an additional entryway for your loved ones.

#5 Myth: My Locking Cover Can be Opened From the Outside

Not true! To ease the thought of someone crawling through your door or wall, manual pet doors or non-electronic, have locking covers that can act as burglar barriers. A locking cover should be placed inside the home where there is controlled access. Locking covers are made specifically for their door, so there are a few different types out there. However, most are made of steel or a hard plastic. These security covers do not have tabs or small openings for anyone or anything to pry open from the outside. Many covers also have latches or pin locks to prevent them from being pushed outward. If there is a concern with your existing locking cover, check out the WatchDog Steel Security Pet Door Cover to ensure maximum security.

#6 Myth: Pet Doors Gives My Pet a Headache

dogs using doggy doorsNot true! For the right pet door size, we measure from a pet’s feet to shoulder; this is because cats and dogs tend to stoop their heads when they go through a pet door. It might seem like this would cause a headache since our pets go in head first.

Dog door flaps are typically made of flexible vinyl that smoothly passes over a dog’s body. Cat flaps on the other hand tend to be a clear, light acrylic that moves almost as sleekly as your cat.

Thanks to light and flexible flap materials, our four legged friends don’t seem to mind!

#7 Myth: Flaps are Interchangeable if they are the Same Size

NOT true! Sometimes the frame of a pet door is perfect, but the flap? Not so much. Since there are so many flaps on the market, there are a few that are close in size. This does not mean flaps can be installed in any door. Pet door flaps are not interchangeable, this is true for any door.

Cutting flaps to fit is not an ideal situation either, while it may be possible. Fitting a flap in an unfamiliar frame can prove to be difficult. Adding to the challenge, a flap on the wrong frame may not seal properly since a door’s magnets can be located where it does not meet the flap’s magnet.

#8 Myth: A Pet Door Can be Installed in Any Door

Almost… There are pet doors made for doors and there are some made for walls. While a pet door can be made for doors, it does not mean any and all doors are fit to use. In order to be installed, pet doors require certain parameters.

Some important pet door installation requirements to check are door thickness, and you always want to ensure the material is strong enough to support the pet door. Pet doors that are not self-framing would require additional steps during installation if you are installing them through hollow-core doors. Be sure to check the specs of any pet door you are looking into to make sure it is a proper fit for your home.

#9 Myth: My Dog Won’t be Able to Push the Door

back door with dog doorSometimes! This is a common concern with smaller pets and goes hand in hand with training as well. A new pet door can be confusing for your dog, but it does not mean they will never get it. Small pets may feel like their new door is overwhelming and have trouble going through. It is a good idea to try and purchase a smaller flap relative to to your pet’s size. The bigger the pet door, the heavier the flap. If you have big and small pets sharing, try looking for flaps with adjustable magnetic strength. Magnets are one of the main features which increases a flap’s weight. Reducing or adjusting your magnets can make the flap light enough for your small pet, so they can play outside too! There are also motorized pet doors, which do not require your pets to push anything.

For first time pet door users, getting used to the flap’s touch is key. We recommend opening the pet door from the outside with a treat to get familiar with the door’s ability. Another trick to use is to slowly have the flap trail across your pet’s body so they can get comfortable with its touch. Every pet’s comfort level is different. Practice makes perfect, so be patient with your pet and soon they will gain their confidence!

#10 Myth: A Pet Door Will Raise Energy Bills

Not true! With a pet’s newfound freedom, they might be running in and out the house more often than not. Having a pet door can allow the outside air to come in the house, and if you are in harsh climates, this is not good news. In order to cut down on your energy bills be sure to look for pet doors with strong magnetic strength. Magnets on the bottom and sides ensure a quick and tight seal. You won’t have to pay extra for your pets’ play time! Electronic pet doors are also a good option; you won’t worry about the flap swinging open when your pet goes outside. And remember that the size of the pet door opening and closing is smaller than your entire “people door” opening and closing each time your dog wants out!

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7 thoughts on “10 Myths About Pet Doors: Exposed

  1. Donna Walle

    One thing to consider about the size of the pet door is the ability of aging pets to use them. I had always used the Extra Large size for my Collies, and found when buying my current Plexidor that the size recommended for them was smaller. But when one of my older dogs developed severe arthritis in his rear end and had difficulty moving around, I was very happy I’d stuck with the Extra Large – he was able to walk through the door without scrunching down, and I built up the landing outside so he could walk straight through. (The dogs have a room in my finished garage, with the dog door leading to a fenced yard.) Not sure how he would have managed during the day while I was at work if I hadn’t had the larger door. He would have been forced to either “hold it”, or mess inside, both of which would have distressed him.

  2. Kim

    I have three concerns about having a pet door; can someone share their experience(s)?
    1: Do other critters (squirrels, others’ cats, etc.) come into your house through the dog door? My back yard is fenced but my neighbor’s cats come into my yard at their leisure, and we have squirrels all over the place.
    2: I have two cats that do not go outside; how would I keep them from using the door (besides getting the electronic version)?
    3: Allowing your dog to have the freedom to go in and out during nasty weather (snow and rain) leads to muddy paws all over your floors and carpets, yes? Blech.


    1. Paula Ledgerwood

      Hi Kim! Thanks for commenting with your concerns! With regard to your first two questions: other than getting an electronic pet door, getting a pet door with a heavy flap, like the Endura Flap, would likely keep smaller animals (squirrels or cats you don’t want using it) from using it, especially without any training. For your last question, you could put rugs, mats, or towels around the inside entrance to your pet door to help reduce the mess. In extra nasty weather, you could also put in the locking cover and go back to limiting their outside times during bad weather. Let us know if you have any other questions!

  3. Wendy

    I have 3 cats and a small dog. They all use a small pet door. My husband and I decided to get a larger dog breed so he replaced the small pet door with the large. My cats are not going through it. Is it possible that it’s too heavy for them to push through? Do they just have to get used to It? It’s a heavier storm flap. What can I do?

    1. Ryan Bruch


      There are two brands of pet doors that allow for variable magnet strength: Endura Flap and Hale. Here are the instructions to change the magnets for Endura flap (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ceyh8co7NQ) and Hale (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctflL8UyDGU). If you have either of these brands you should be able to remove or adjust the magnets to make it easier for your cats to push through. Can you send pictures of your door to customerservice@petdoors.com and a short description of your problem. We should be able to figure something out.