– Just about everyone has seen the standard dog door or dog flap in use at one time or another. However as with many other canine products, dog doors are starting to turn hi-tech with the release of several electronic versions.
For many years households that installed dog doors either constructed the doors themselves or bought one of the commonly available flap-type devices sold in many pet stores. Whilst most of the commercially available units could be manually set to keep dogs either in or out, it was a one-solution-fits-all approach however. That is, unless you wanted to act as a doorman for your dogs, it was a situation of all dogs in or all dogs out.
Not only do such doors allow access to your own dogs however; they allow access to any other dog (or brave cat!) that can get to your door as well. This lack of control over who comes in has of course always been a bugbear for dog owners
The Daily Dog has sniffed out two electronic dog doors that have overcome the lack of selective access inherit in previous models of dog doors, with both products we review today having advantages and disadvantages.
The first electronic dog door we reviewed is the “Dog Mate”. As the name suggests, it is available in Australia, being sold in some bricks and mortar pet stores as well as in online pet stores and on eBay.
On the plus side, the Dog Mate door only needs a standard 9V battery to operate the lock, which is triggered by a simple magnet on a collar around a dog’s neck (pictured). Only a dog with the magnet on the collar is allowed in or out, with the magnet activating the locking mechanism as the dog approaches.
On the minus side, the Dog Mate is currently only available in a size suitable for small dogs (why, the pups4sale team doesn’t understand). As a further negative the website of the manufacturers is so practically useless you’d better hope you don’t need any after market support from them if you do purchase the Dog Mate. Furthermore, if the battery on the unit runs out of charge, Fido is going to be stuck on whatever side of the door he finds himself until the battery is changed or the unit is manually operated.
The Dog Mate retails for around $160 delivered, with DIY installation.
The second electronic dog door in question is from America, and is more sophisticated than the Dog Mate. It is called the “Hi Tech Power Pet” (being American, it has to have a fancy name of course!).
On the plus side, it uses an ultrasonic sensor rather than a magnet to trigger the door release. The dog needs to be walking directly towards the door for the unit to engage. If the dog is sleeping nearby or simply walking past the door, the collar-mounted sensor will not activate the door – unlike a simple magnet sensor. Additionally it is (sensibly) available in multiple sizes, so is suitable for large, medium and small dogs – unlike the Dog Mate. Because the larger sizes are big enough for a human intruder to crawl through, such units incorporate a quality deadbolt in order to prevent this from happening when the unit is not in use.
On the minus side, because it uses an ultrasonic sensor to trigger the locking mechanism, the sensor is more expensive to replace and not as durable as a simple magnet. Additionally the Hi Tech Power Pet uses mains power, and as it is manufactured for the US market, if you purchase one you will also need to buy an adapter to suit Australian power outlets and voltages.
The Hi Tech Power Pet retails for approximately twice the price of a Dog Mate unit, so if you want one you will need to make sure the online store you use will ship it to Australia.
Both products have four settings; In Only, Out Only, Full Access and Closed & Locked.
So where to from here in terms of the inevitable further evolution of such products?
To give some indication of where further development of electronic dog doors will lead are doors currently being made for cats only. Such doors can be programmed to discriminate between eight different cats, reading their individual microchip or an electronic sensor on their collar as they approach the door – the latter being the same type the Hi Tech Power Pet currently uses for dogs.
The door is programmed for each individual animal, including whether to let them in or out at all, or certain times each animal is allowed out or in. Obviously most canine households have little need to cater for so many dogs, but at the same time the Daily Dog wonders why a household would have eight cats either?!
The microchip reader system is a better option for cats than a collar mounted sensor, as any cat owner knows how expert cats are of ridding themselves of collars – which in this case would have an expensive sensor attached to it. It doesn’t matter how clever a cat is at disposing of his collar though – a microchip under the skin is much less likely to go astray. Indeed, a microchip reader would be suitable for dogs too, so we can’t see why dog doors capable of reading microchips will not hit the market shortly.
And the next step after the above advance? Wi-fi capable doors of course! With just about every home electronic device going Wi-fi, it is a given that electronic dog doors will be so enabled in order for dog owners with too much time and money on their hands to remotely change the settings on their doggie-doors. Why someone would want to do so is beyond us – but that’s progress!
So in summary there are currently two models of electronic dog doors commonly available on the market, both of which come at a not insignificant price, and both with their own advantages and disadvantages. For us at pups4sale however, all our dogs are outside dogs anyway, so dog doors – whether they be electronic or not – are fortunately not something we need to trouble ourselves with.
Editor’s note: The Daily Dog has not sought nor received any financial inducement in order to review the products mentioned in this article. All opinions expressed are solely those of the pups4sale team.