A doggy door makes it easy for your pup to head outside when he needs to take a bathroom break or if he spots intruders in the yard like birds, squirrels, or a neighbor’s Frisbee. However, doggy doors also create a weak link in your home security, and, believe it or not, burglars often use them to get into their victim's abodes. Albeit the size and style of your doggy door plays a large part in its safety, there are ways to ensure that your dog has access to the outside and that your home is safe from intruders.
The Thought Process of Burglars
To assess the safety of your home, first put yourself in the mindset of a burglar. Burglars will use any open door or window to access your home. If the front and back doors are locked and all windows are closed, burglars will look for an alternative solution. A large, unlocked doggy door presents the perfect opportunity to slide into a home and unlock the doors from within or to reach through and unlock a door. Burglars have been known to enter homes through windows, doggy doors, chimneys, and whatever other options avail themselves. If you're sure that your pet door isn't large enough to pass through, test it by reaching through and attempting to unlock the door.
Considering Door Size
The safety of your doggy door depends heavily on its size. If you have a small dog and a very small doggy door that no human could fit through, it’s reasonable to assume the door is not a security threat. Do note that not all burglars are adults; some are children or teens who might fit through a smaller door than you might expect.
Doggy Door Safety
Always purchase a strong pet door with a built-in lock. Lock the doggy door at night and when you leave your home to ensure it isn’t used by intruders.
Electronic doggy doors use a microchip you can place on your dog’s collar – the door only unlocks when the dog or cat is nearby. This is not a foolproof solution, however, for those times when you’re out of the house, as the presence of an intruder will no doubt bring the dog close enough to the doggy door to trigger its unlocking. These doors are also not meant to withstand intruders intent on breaking in, but simply to block the exit of a 40 pounds or less animal. It's best to get a sturdier door with a lock.
Replace the less protective plastic barrier that may have come with the door with a sturdier, hard-to-break metal or wood barrier to protect the door at night or any other time your pet doesn't require access to the outdoors.
Install your pet door in a less obvious location and not visible from the street. If possible, install it through a wall instead of a door, in an area where a thief would not expect a pet door to be. A good location would be a wall leading to the backyard (which you should also keep secure by surrounding it with a high fence and locking gate).
Rethink your decision to install a pet door, especially if you must have a large one. If the door is an absolute must, it's always best to rely on other forms of security, such as a motion-detection floodlights, alarm system, and/or security cameras.
Security Pluses of Doggy Doors
Though O've only discussed the negatives of pet doors, they may also be a deterrent to crime. Burglars largely prey on homes that are unprotected. While no solution is a 100% guarantee, often the presence of any dog, large or small, is enough to deter a burglar. If a burglar is sizing up your home and notices a large doggy door, he may elect to skip your house rather than face the equally-large dog that is likely inside. Reinforce this as a security measure by placing a Beware of Dog sign somewhere visible from the street.
Even a small door hints at the possibility of a dog that will bark and draw attention to a crime in progress. Overall, doggy doors are generally safe if locked when not in use and small enough to prevent entry, and the presence of your dog may be even more of a deterrent.
By Todd Bowerman
About the Author
Based primarily in Austin, Texas, Todd Bowerman has been working as a writer since 2004. He has provided numerous independent clients with ghostwriting and SEO copywriting services. Bowerman currently serves as editor-in-chief of Button Masher Online. He studied English at DePaul University.