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Dog doors are fantastic because they give your pet the freedom of letting themselves in and out as they please and free you up from having to do it for them. Smart Pet Doors add technology to combine convenience with security.
Traditional doggy doors can pose a few problems or concerns. For instance, it could potentially let all kinds of other critters in your house. If your pet’s door is big enough, a burglar may even be able to invite themselves in when you’re not home.
Maybe you have a dog that’s allowed out in the back yard, and a cat who isn’t? Traditional doors pose a problem in that respect as well. There are a number of scenarios that could make a traditional doggy door unappealing.
A smart pet door is a convenient way for your pets to let themselves out, and also provides security and peace of mind for when you’re at work all day.
You’ll know that your furry family member can let themselves out to do their business or lay in their favorite sunspot. The best part is that technology has taken the convenience of pet doors and elevated them to a new level of comfort for both you and pets.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the best smart pet doors and how they can make you and your pet’s life way easier.
What Exactly Is A Smart Pet Door?
A smart pet door can mean a few things, but generally, it uses technology to allow your dog (or cat) in or out of the house.
Most smart pet doors use Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) to detect your pet, subsequently unlocking and/or opening the door. The signal will either come from your pet’s embedded microchip or a compatible RFID Collar.
While functions vary, most involve automatic locking/opening features, timers, and security functions such as only letting your specific pets in or out.
Smart doggy doors are usually powered by a battery or plug directly into the wall. Smart doors sense your pet’s presence by either an RFID tag or its microchip, unlocking when pushed open by your pet or automatically opening as your pet draws near the sensor.
Other features vary by make and model.
What Are The Benefits Of Using A Smart Pet Door?
There are a lot of benefits to upgrading to a smart pet door. Peace-of-mind is the biggest benefit, as smart doors give your pets the ability to enter and leave the house without your assistance but under your terms.
Security is another benefit. Unlike traditional pet doors, all of the smart doors we are going to talk about receive signals from your pet’s smart collar (or microchip) so that your furry friend is the only one permitted to use the door.
You won’t have to worry about neighborhood cats (or any number of other wild animals for that matter) sneaking in to eat the cat food. Not to mention, the automatic locking feature will also keep out potential thieves.
Ease-of-use also comes to mind. Some smart doors have motion-activated sensors that open automatically as soon as your dog or cat gets close enough. Some animals are also afraid to push their head up against the door, so this is beneficial in that respect.
Many models are also better weatherproofed than traditional doggy doors. All of the smart pet doors listed below lock behind your pet and provide a secure seal against outside elements, keeping heat in and cold out or vice versa.
Overall, there are many benefits to using a smart door – the real question is, which one will best suit your needs?
Which Smart Pet Door Should I Get?
The pet market is currently sporting a number of smart pet door options. We’re here to make your life a little easier and break down some of the most popular options.
Some factors you should keep in mind are security, affordability, SmartKey functions, timers, and sizes available. It all comes down to how much you want to spend and what features will suit you and your pet best when establishing the best smart dog door for you.
The following smart doggy doors make up our top 3:
- The Petsafe Electronic Smartdoor (found here on Amazon)
- The Plexidor Electronic Pet Door (found here on their website) or (here on Amazon)
- Sureflap Microchip Pet Door (found here on Amazon)
Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
Petsafe Electronic SmartDoor
The Petsafe Electronic SmartDoor works by sensing a SmartKey that attaches to your pet’s collar. The door locks/unlocks as your pets come within and out of the radio-frequency range.
The sensitivity of the door can be adjusted as needed, but it’s generally adjusted for a range of about 2 feet. The flap must be pushed open once activated by the collar. Of course, training your pet to get used to the flap might take a little patience.
Note: You can find a good article on training your pet for this here. For many dogs, baiting them through with a few “high reward” treats should do the trick.
Both the Petsafe Electronic dog door and SmartKeys are battery-operated. This could be considered a potential con, since switching out a battery every six months sounds like just another of many to add to your list.
Now, on the plus side, the Petsafe Electronic SmartDoor and the SmartKey feature a red light that flashes when the battery is low so you won’t be caught off guard before the batteries die.
This SmartDoor automatically locks behind the pet as they enter when it no longer senses your pet’s Smartkey. You also have the option to set it to stay open or stay locked.
Note: Just to be clear, when the Petsafe Electronic SmartDoor is set to automatic mode, it still only allows pets with registered SmartKeys to enter.
The Petsafe Electronic SmartDoor comes with one programmed SmartKey and can register up to five additional – a nice option for those of you with more than one dog or cat.
The SmartKey is designed to attach to your pet’s collar and it is both waterproof and water submersible. This way you won’t have to worry about those rainy days or forgetting to take off your pet’s collar during bathtime.
You aren’t able to make any entry/exit rules based on time of day, unfortunately. There are, however, three types of locking control modes: Locked, Unlocked, and Automatic.
- Locked Mode does not allow entry or exit for any pet.
- Automatic Mode let pets with registered SmartKeys to enter and exit.
- Unlocked Mode allows any pet, even those without SmartKeys, to enter and exit.
The PetSafe Electronic SmartDoor tends to be between $94.95 and $149.95 as of the writing of this article. It depends on which size you need of course.
Plexidor Electronic Dog Door
The Plexidor Electronic Dog Door features an automatic sliding door that slides up and down versus a flap that automatically opens and closes.
Similar to PetSafe’s SmartDoor, a collar key control attaches to your dog or cat’s collar which sends a signal to the Plexidor Dog Door. In this case, the signal not only unlocks the door, but it automatically slides open or closed as your pet approaches. This range is adjustable up to three feet.
Another difference is that The Plexidor is not battery-operated. You can choose to either hardwire it or you can plug it into a standard AC power outlet.
The Plexidor Electronic Pet door is very secure – it has a heavy steel lock that can be set from the inside and includes a steel security plate that can easily screw on the door when you leave for long periods of time.
Collar Key Functions
When you purchase a Plexidor Electronic Pet Door, it usually comes with two RFID collar keys. The key is well weatherproofed and doesn’t require batteries.
There is the option to buy more collar keys if needed, and the Plexidor Electronic Dog Door can accommodate up to 10 keys.
The timer on the Plexidor Electronic Pet Door can be adjusted to control how long the slider stays open, a nice feature for those pets that like to take their time going in and out of the house.
This subject also presents a common safety concert often posed with electronic dog doors. What if the door closes on my dog?
The Plexidor Electronic Dog Door also features an anti-close system so it doesn’t guillotine your dog or cat if they get stuck underneath it.
One thing came to mind with this Smart Door. We realized there is no “open” mode unless you manually unplug the door after it has opened. This is a perfectly good workaround if you have a desire to do so. The door will resume normal function after plugging it back in.
The Plexidor Electronic Pet Door comes in one large size. One thing to keep in mind is the actual size of the entire unit, which is 17 1/8” wide x 54 ⅝ tall”. By nature of its design, it has to be tall so the door can slide up and down.
The opening of the door is 12 ⅝” wide x 19 ⅝ tall”
This is the most expensive smart pet door in this review. The Plexidor Electronic Pet Door starts at around $1,800.
This door is built tougher than most doors though and you could also consider the cost savings of never having to replace a broken flap. There is also a five-year warranty and highly-rated customer service.
They also boast it as being the largest size smart pet door on the market, which could also make it worth the steep price tag as well.
Sureflap Microchip Pet Door
The SureFlap Microchip Pet Door is an app-controlled pet door rendering it a little more high tech. It also can read your pet’s microchip, making the SmartKey obsolete for a lot of pets. If your pet isn’t microchipped, then you will still have the option of using a SmartKey collar.
Just like a lot of the other Smart Pet Doors, this door is activated when your pet enters the tunnel and pushes the flap with their head.
Be warned though that this is the smallest pet door on our list, so if you have a larger animal it wouldn’t be an option. The largest model they have has an opening of 7″ x 6 3⁄4“. This is more of an electronic cat door, which is perfect if you have a cat or a small breed dog.
The SureFlap Microchip Pet Door itself is battery operated. Depending on your model, it will require either 4 x AAA batteries or 4 x C batteries.
If you choose to use the RFID collar tag, it does not, however, require batteries.
Your Sureflap pet door notifies you when batteries are low (about every six months) with a blinking red light.
As far as security goes, let’s start with the most obvious. This opening is much too small for any sized human to fit through. Let’s check that off first.
What about wild animals? Like the other models, the flap is designed not to open without the presence of your pet’s SmartKey or microchip. There is a security feature that can register the presence of non-registered animals trying to enter the house and close the outer lock to prevent the door from being pulled open outwards.
The selective entry feature can allow any animal to exit if you like, but only approved animals to enter. You can also set permissions only for certain animals in your household to be able to enter/exit the house and most of these settings are adjustable from anywhere using your Sure Petcare App.
Microchip/Collar Tag Functions
The Sureflap Microchip Pet Door was designed with the “crazy cat lady” in mind, as it can register up to 32 pets, or identities. All jokes aside though, you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck in this department as many animals are already microchipped so there is no need for additional purchases to accommodate all your pets.
The Sureflap Microchip Pet Door has five timing or locking timers:
- Mode One lets your pet enter and exit as it pleases.
- Mode Two is “in only”, letting your pet enter the house but not exit.
- Mode Three is “out only”, letting your pet exit the house but not enter.
- Mode Four is fully locked, and mode five is the “curfew” timer. When you set the curfew timer, the pet is allowed to exit only during set times.
There are 2 sizes available for the Sureflap Microchip Pet Door. The two sized aren’t that drastically different, as it’s marketed for large cats and small dogs only.
The “Cat Door” models are all 5 5/8″ x 4 3/4″ and the “Pet Door” models are 7″ x 6 3/4″.
The Sureflap Microchip Pet door is priced in the mid-range when compared to other manufacturers. The most expensive model is under $250 and some models are even under $100 (You can view all current prices by clicking the link provided at the top of this article).
While it’s slightly more expensive than the Petsafe Electronic Smart Door, it’s significantly cheaper than the Plexidor Electronic Pet Door. Considering there is potentially no additional cost for collar tags, and it comes with a three-year warranty, this is a solid price for a smart pet door.
|Battery-Powered||SmartKey required||Automatic Opening||Sizes(Flap Opening W X H)|
|PetSafe Electronic Dog Door||yes||yes||no||Small – 5 ½” x 7 ⅞”Large- 11” x 16”|
|Plexidor Electronic Dog Door||no||yes||yes||12 ⅝” x 19 ⅝”|
|SureFlap Dog Door||yes||No (but has option for smart-key||no||One Size (Small)- 7” x 6 11/16”|
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know what size dog door I should get?
When deciding what size smart pet door you should get, you need to measure your pet. Each smart door listed here has measurements on their website or Amazon listing page that shows where to measure your pet so that you can pick the right size door.
Once you figure out the minimum size requirements, then you should analyze the site where you want to place the door. Do you have space on your wall or door for a large size? Keep in mind that the frame opening is much larger than the actual flap size.
These are all important factors to consider when deciding what size smart pet door to get.
This isn’t by any means a rule, but these are our recommendations based on the size of your dog or cat. You can generally see manufacturer’s recommendations for any particular smart pet door.
|Pet Weight||Breed Example||Opening Size|
|Small||Dogs – Up to 9 lbs|
Cats – Up to 22 lbs
|Cats, Chihuhuas, Yorkies, Pomeranians,||6 1/2″ x 7 1/4″|
|Medium||Up to 40 lbs||Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, Poodles||9″ x 12″|
|Large||Up to 100 lbs||Labs, Bulldogs, Boxers, Collies||11 3/4″ x 16″|
|Extra Large||Up to 220 lbs||Great Danes, Mastiffs, St Bernards||15 1/4″ x 23 5/8″|
I have a very large dog, which brands offer an extra-large electronic dog door?
The PetSafe Electronic Smart door comes in a large size with the flap being 11’’ wide and 16’’ tall. This would suit a majority of large breed dogs such as huskies, labs, and german shepherds.
The Plexidor Electronic Pet Door comes in a one-size-fits-all that is advertised to fit dogs up to 125 lbs (the same range as the PetSafe Electronic Smart door), but the flap opening of the Plexidor Electronic Pet Door actually measures larger than the PetSafe Electronic Smart door at 12 ⅝ ‘’ wide and 19 ⅝ ‘’ tall.
Unfortunately, if you have a dog that measures larger than the openings listed above they will not fit, but there are plenty of non-electric door options out there for those bigger doggies.
Should I have my smart doggy door professionally installed?
It depends on how confident you are in your handy-man/woman abilities! All of the dog doors come with installation instructions and most have videos. YouTube is a never-ending source of helpful videos as well.
Some of the dog doors are more labor-intensive than others, especially if you make the choice to install the door through a wall instead of a door.
In the end, it comes down to how much money you want to spend or time you want to save paying someone to install it vs doing it yourself.
We’ve chosen these 3 as being the most viable options on the market today.
There are certainly others, but in the end, it comes down to deciding what features you really need vs what you really want and how deep your pockets go.
The size of your pet is really the biggest limiting factor in smart pet doors, as there aren’t really any options for extra-large dogs or dogs exceeding 125 lbs.
What it really comes down to is analyzing your specific needs.
- How large is my dog?
- What is my price range?
- Where can I actually install a pet door in my home?
- How many pets do I have?
These smart pet doors are all great options and can make your life more comfortable for you and your pet.
If you’re interested in adding additional security to your home without the burden of monthly fees, you can check out this article as well.