Doggie doors are a very convenient way to give your dog access to his potty area. Your dog can use his door any time he likes and you won't have to worry about accidents inside your home. However, there are some hazards that come with having a doggie door. Any time you leave your dog unsupervised, you may come home to find problems. Here's a quick checklist to follow:

  1. Choose the right-sized door for your pet. Chunky pets can actually get stuck in the doorway and will need help pushing through.
  2. Make sure that toddlers or small children in the household don't have access to the doggie door, especially if you have a pool or a pond nearby. Toddlers can also get their fingers painfully caught in the door.
  3. Ideally, the doggie door will open onto a closed "run," which doesn't have a gate to the world at large. Fence off part of your yard for Fido's potty place.
  4. If you don't have a separate run, make that sure that all gates in the yard are padlocked shut. You don't want to risk a gardener or neighborhood kid letting your pet out. Make sure that your pet has been microchipped for permanent identification.
  5. If you don't want muddy floors, section off part of your home for Fido and put the door there, ideally off the kitchen, so that when he comes in from outside after a rain shower he won't destroy your rugs and furniture.
  6. Since Fido will have unsupervised access to part of your yard, make sure that there's nothing outside that can harm him, including fertilizers and chemicals. Also, make sure that there's fresh water available for him at all times while he's outside.
  7. Ask your neighbors about your dog's behavior while you're away. If he's a nuisance, he's at risk of being let loose or poisoned. At the very least, you're at risk for a visit from animal control or the police.
  8. Other animals, including neighborhood dogs and cats, as well as raccoons and opossums, may also use the doggie door to come in and have a meal. To prevent unintentional entry, purchase a door that has an infrared feature that will allow the door to open only for an animal wearing a small device on its collar.
  9. At first, some dogs and cats will need to be lured through the door with food or trained to use the doggie door in incremental steps. It's not natural for an animal to push through an opaque flap into the unknown, and many animals will have a hard time with it. Some doggie doors come with a clear or glass flap, which may help.
  10. Be aware that some models of doors will flap open in inclement weather. Most come installed with security locks so that you can lock the door at night or when you're away