While a doggy door may be a great feature to give your pooches access to the great outdoors so that they can run around, get some sun, or relieve themselves whenever they need to, it can also provide intruders with an easy point of access to get inside your home.
So just how do doggy doors make your home vulnerable and what can you do about it? We asked a security expert for the 411 on doggy doors and home safety.
Why are doggy doors dangerous?
A doggy door, also known as a pet flap, is a small cutout in a wall, window, or door that allows your pet to go outside (and back inside again) without you needing to be there. They are usually weighted flaps that swing shut on their own, sturdy enough to keep weather and wind from coming in.
But while they might add convenience to your life, doggy doors are seriously compromising the security of your home. “Doggy doors definitely need to be protected,” says Bob Tucker, a spokesperson for ADT Security. “They are a point of intrusion in the home for burglars.” Unfortunately, this is just one of the many things that can make your home more vulnerable to burglars.
Most doggy doors are located in the back of the house, where there is access to a fenced yard. The issue here, Tucker explains, is that this area is out of view of your neighbors and anyone else who might be passing by. That makes it the perfect setup for a burglar who wants to go unnoticed.
There are two main ways that burglars use doggy doors to gain interior access. The first is that petite burglars may actually be able to slip through the doggy door. This is generally more of an issue with larger doggy doors designed for bigger breeds. But more commonly, a burglar of any size can use a doggy door to reach their hands into your home and unlock the door—especially when the doggy door is located directly on your back door. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make your doggy door safer.
Lock your doggy door
If you aren’t home and your dog is with you, you don’t have to keep the doggy door open. Tucker suggests installing a slide bolt so it can’t be intruded through. Alternatively, you could buy a self-locking doggy door. The OWNPETS Pet Screen Door has a built-in magnet that keeps the door closed when your dog leaves. You can also lock the door to prevent your pets from going out at night or when you’re not at home. That way, your dogs will be locked in and intruders will be locked out.
Use a security system
The obvious way to keep burglars out of your home in general is by investing in a security system, something Tucker strongly suggests. He advises going the professional route and having security experts come to your house, assess your situation, and install a system designed with your pet in mind. How? By including sensors and cameras that won’t be triggered by your pet’s body weight and putting those security devices wherever the doggy door is. Here are some more tips on how to choose the best security system.
Or, you can do it yourself by using a smart home security system like the SimpliSafe 9-Piece Wireless Home Security System, which comes with an HD camera, entry sensors, and motion sensors. If you want some added protection, you can pay a monthly fee for professional monitoring with no service contract.
Get a high-tech door chime
If you don’t want to install an entire security system, you can put contact devices on the door that has the doggy door. “That way, when you are home and the door is opened, there can be a chime that indicates that someone is coming in and out,” explains Tucker. “It might be annoying—especially if your dog goes in and out all the time—but at least it will give you peace of mind.” A wireless door-chime system from Fosmon costs just over $20 and will definitely do the trick.
Install a motion detector
For those times that you aren’t home, you should consider adding a connected motion sensor. That way, no matter where you are, you can be notified if someone is coming in or out of your home. When disengaged, it sends a signal to your phone or to your security company, similar to when a break-in occurs. If you think there’s something sketchy going on, you can take action. The Z-Wave Plus Motion Detector is easy to install and has pet immunity, which will help eliminate any false alarms. A safety device like this is one of the tech gadgets all pet owners need.
Set up a video camera
A more comprehensive way to stay in the loop is by installing a video camera along with a motion detector. When your motion detector is activated, your system can notify you, sending a photo or video of the occurrence. If it’s just Fido going on an adventure, you have nothing to worry about. However, if it’s a burglar, you can notify the authorities immediately.
The Ring Stick Up Cam is an amazing option. It monitors both indoor and outdoor areas at home in 1080p HD video and night vision, and can be easily mounted. As soon as motion is detected, it sends a notification straight to your device. You can also check on your home any time with Live View on-demand video. An added bonus? You can speak to your pets and hear their responses!
Hang a “Beware of Dog” sign
“Having a dog in itself is a deterrent because burglars don’t like houses with dogs—especially when the dog is larger,” Tucker maintains. So, one easy way to keep your home safe is with a scary-looking “Beware of Dog” sign. While knowing you have a dog could provide burglars with a reason to search for a point of access via a doggy door, if they think you have a guard dog, they will probably be inclined to stay far away. So refrain from hanging that “Beware of the Shih Tzu” sign, and instead try one that says “Beware of the German Shepherd.” In addition to doggy doors, find out more sneaky things in your home that could actually be dangerous to your pet.