The Pros and Cons of Electronic Dog Doors: Is It Worth the Investment?
The future of pet doors is here!
Electronic dog and cat doors are gaining traction among pet owners who are looking for high tech, high quality pet doors that provide the best convenience and security for their homes.
While electronic pet doors provide an impressive array of perks, they’re not for every household. If you’re considering switching your traditional, manual pet door for a tech-driven alternative, then you need to ensure that it will not only improve your life, but the life of your pets.
Read on to find out all the many benefits to switching over to an electronic pet door, as well as what nuisances they may cause in your life as well.
What Is An Electronic Pet Door?
An electronic pet door is the modernized version of a traditional pet flap that provides controlled access for pets into and out of a house.
Unlike manual flaps, which can be accessed by any animal that can fit through, electronic doors are equipped with mechanisms that allow only authorized pets to use them. This is typically achieved by using unique identifiers, such as microchips or magnetic collar tags, that the door can recognize.
There are five types of electronic doors currently on the market: microchip-activated doors, magnetic collar tag doors, RFID doors, ultrasonic collar key doors, and app-controlled doors.
Microchip-activated pet doors (like this PetSafe Microchip Cat Door) use the unique identification microchip embedded in your pet as a "key." When your pet approaches the door, a sensor reads the chip. If it matches the stored number, the door will unlock, allowing your pet to pass.
Because the microchip has to be near the head in order to be sensed by the door, these doors are only available for cats. When a cat is microchipped, it is almost always near their neck. Meanwhile, dogs can be microchips anywhere on their back, and the chip can move drastically as they grow.
Many microchip pet doors have a second set of sensors to detect a key attached to your pet’s collar (sometimes called a collar tag or a collar key). However, most electronic pet doors have sensors that only detect an attachable collar tag, which can not only come in many different forms but can also use a large array of different technologies.
Magnetic keys, like the one used for the Cat Mate 254, are one type of collar tag. This is a relatively low-tech solution, as the magnet triggers the unlocking mechanism.
Radio frequency identification (RFID) and ultrasonic (also known as infrared) keys are more complicated. Both tags emit a frequency or signal that the sensor detects in order to unlock the door.
Pet doors that detect ultrasonic signals often have adjustable ranges to determine how close a pet has to be before the door activates. A great example would be the High Tech Power Pet Door.
The most advanced electronic pet door on the market right now are app-controlled smart doors, like the PetSafe SmartDoor connected. These doors will connect to your home’s WIFI so that you can control your door remotely through a smartphone app. This means that you can lock or unlock the door, set schedules, and monitor your pet’s comings and goings with ease.
Benefits of Electronic Dog Doors:
There are many ways that electronic cat doors and dog doors outshine all other dog doors available right now:
- Convenience for Owners: With electronic doors, you no longer play the role of a gatekeeper for your cat and dog. They can enter and exit without your intervention, providing them with the independence they crave.
- Enhanced Security Against Unwanted Guests: Traditional pet doors, while beneficial, often become access points for strays and wildlife like raccoons. They can venture through your pet door to wreak havoc inside your home. Electronic dog doors offer a solution by ensuring only your pet, through specific triggers like microchips or collar keys, can use your pet door.
- Diverse Activation Methods: Modern electronic dog doors use varied mechanisms. From radio frequency identification (compatible with pet-specific microchips or collar keys) to magnetic collar tag keys, these doors remain locked and secure until activated by the designated "key."
- Compatibility with Technology: Although direct integration with smart home systems like Google Home or Amazon Alexa Echo isn't standard yet, innovative homeowners have found ways to synchronize their electronic doors using smart plugs. The potential for future seamless integration is vast.
Drawbacks and Considerations:
While there are a lot of ways in which electronic dog doors are a cut above the rest, they present a couple of distinct drawbacks:
- Limited Sizing Options: Currently, microchip technology in electronic pet doors cannot detect chips from a long distance. This means that there are no large-sized electronic doors available. High Tech has the largest height ranges on the market, but at a top height of 17.25", they are still too short for Saint Bernards, Great Danes, and other giant dogs. Larger pets might need to stick to manual pet doors for now.
- No Full Integration with Mainstream Smart Home Devices: As mentioned, while some DIY solutions exist, no electronic dog door on the market is designed to fully integrate with popular smart home systems out of the box.
Electronic dog doors offer an ideal blend of convenience and security, addressing many of the common concerns associated with traditional pet doors. If you're considering making the switch, make sure to check out our full selection to find the best one for you.
Our team of pet door experts are always here to help you find the best pet door for you and your pet.