Pet doors may not be strong, but they generally won’t help a burglar enter your home, either. Most pet doors aren’t large enough for an adult or even a child to crawl through. On the other hand, those that are large enough to accommodate a person also indicate the size of the dog that’s guarding the house. No burglar wants to come nose to nose with a dog as big as he is!
Nonetheless, pet doors should be secured. Even if the door is small, there’s a chance a criminal may be able to reach in and grab some keys you happened to leave in the lock or in the pocket of a coat hanging on a rack near the door. This can and does happen.
Manual Pet Door Locks
Most pet doors come with a manual four-way security lock. The four settings are “in only,” “out only,” “open both ways,” and “locked both ways.” Because these locks can be broken fairly easily, though, there are also dead bolt pet doors available that use a sliding dead-bolt locking system, which also offers four different lock settings. Dead bolt pet doors are also useful if you have a strong dog that can force his way out through weaker pet doors.
Infrared Pet Doors or “Smart” Pet Doors
Infrared pet doors are called “smart” doors because they can sense when your cat or dog wants to go out and can tell your pet apart from any other animal (or person) that may try to get through the door. The door works by sensing a small magnet of half an inch or so that you slip over your pet’s regular collar. A sensor in the door opens the door only when it detects the magnet on your pet’s collar, so your pet can get in, but thieves-like any local raccoons that may be thinking about trashign your kitchen-are kept out.
These infrared magnet sensors also have the usual four-way lock settings. Most infrared pet doors also include a manual lock in case the batteries run down and you don’t have replacements handy or you need to take your pet’s collar off for some time.
Sliding Glass Door and Patio Pet Doors
If you’re tired of leaving the sliding glass door open all summer to let Fluffy or Fido run in and out, a sliding glass door-mounted pet door may be for you. This type of pet door consists of a tall panel, with a pet door in the bottom, that fits into the sliding glass door track. The highest quality are made of double-pane thermal safety glass and have a lock-out slide. In fact, the locks on sliding glass pet doors are sometimes better than the locks on the sliding glass door itself. If you don’t want to block the ventilation, there are also panels made of screen that fit into the screen track. These, of course, are less secure than the glass panels. For cats that prefer to use the window as a door, there are smaller horizontal pet door/screen panels are that can be used in double-hung windows.
The pet door may not be the most likely entry point for a burglar, but it’s still important to secure it if for no other reason than to keep out the hedgehogs and raccoons. For a truly secure pet door, opt for one with a dead bolt lock.