Pet Doors – Choosing the Right Size

One of the easiest ways to tell a bogus dog garage door opener repair sonoma county web site is by the recommendations they make regarding the size of dog a particular pet door is suited for. “Dogs to 150 lbs” or, even worse, “large-sized” dogs are a terrible disservice to the consumer who is apt to think he or she is dealing with a knowledgeable company. To make matters worse, everyone including me and even you, dear reader, over-estimates the size pet door they really need. It’s an optical illusion that’s very common. So if you get “up-sold” on size–and, therefore, price–you may never realize it.

At the same time, it’s even worse to buy one that’s too small as I’ll explain below. And you’re not going to realize that the pet door is too small for a very long time either. Your young, vigorous, teen-aged dog can get through just about anything for a while.

So what do we do?

Well, let’s start by asking what our goal is. Sure, it’s to let the dog in and out when he wants without having to be a ‘door opening slave’ (this catchy phrase was invented by a pet door manufacturer named Pet-Eze in the 1970’s).

But, if you think about it, what you really want is to not be opening the door for your dog for as long as possible.

Let’s put it this way: Your dog has a lifespan of, say, x years. The closer to ‘x’ that he’s able to use his door, the better because when the time comes that he can’t use it successfully, well, then, you’ve got a big problem. Your life, in a real sense, revolves around the fact that Fido can get in or out when he needs or wants to. What changes do you have to make once he can’t? They might be really big ones.

Just one example: For years you ran home at noon to let the dog out to ‘do his business’. Then you got a dog door and could quit making that trip. Then you got a job 30 minutes further away. Then the dog quit using the dog door because he couldn’t manage it. Now what?

Ok. Down to business. In a nutshell, we want to make the pet door as ‘accessible’ as possible for the dog you own. Not some hypothetical 100 lb dog but your particular dog. What does ‘accessible’ mean in this context? It means that you’ve chosen a pet door that is as easy for your dog to use as possible without being any larger than needed.

First, measure his height at the highest point of his body when he ducks his head to go through. Usually, this is the ‘withers’ (the top of the shoulders) but sometimes it can be the hind end. If the top of the flap opening is at least that high, then he won’t have to crouch going through. Crouching can be very difficult for a dog with arthritis, bad hips, an injury or just plain old age.

Next, crack open a bedroom door just wide enough for him to come and go comfortably. This is easiest with two people and some treats for motivation. Whatever you do, don’t use your tape measure directly on the dog! You just can’t measure accurately that way. Not even close.

The height measurement was pretty objective but the width is more subjective. Three different people will come to three different conclusions about how much width is ‘enough’. I’ve talked with customers that want ‘plenty of room’ and others that say ‘let him squeeze a little’. Neither is wrong (though if the dog is in the habit of charging through after a squirrel, I worry about him bruising a shoulder on the way!).

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