Updated Oct 17, 2020
You have finally found that perfect dog house for your furry family member. But it seems to be missing something. A door! And your fur baby deserves the best! Have no fear; we are here to help you find the perfect dog house door. Just take a look at our strip curtain door video if you want further inspiration.
I have gone to the end of the internet and back to find the top 10 best dog house door ideas for your special canine companion. A dog house door will protect your dog from the elements, make your dog house look great, and help keep the inside temperature of your dog house stable.
This article will discuss the top 10 best door ideas for your dog house, ranging from American Western Saloon style to Barn and Pocket doors. Read on to find out more about how I even go high tech on the door concept.
Our Top Pick: Dual-Layer Strip Curtain
Warmer Weather Doors
In warmer temperatures, dog houses can get beat by the heat. With the hot sun blazing down on the dog house, the inside can turn into an oven. So what do we do about a door? Well, for starters, we look at whether or not the dog house is insulated and/or air-conditioned. If you have an air-conditioned dog house, the door’s goal will be to keep the cool air inside while keeping the hot air out—all this while allowing the dog to enter and exit the dog house easily. I’ll discuss some of the functional door ideas when conditioning is involved further in the door ideas.
If your dog house concept is to be used for shade and no air conditioning unit is in place or required, then you have a lot more flexibility for the door design. The goal here is to allow airflow. This while again allowing the dog easy entry and exit to the dog house. Many dog houses with this goal in mind skip having a door altogether and only have an open doorway. This is, in fact, the classical dog house design. A door is not necessary for this situation, but having one can really liven up the look of your dog house. Take a look at some of these great ideas.
1. American Western Saloon Dog House Door Idea
Grab your cowboy boots and hat; we’re heading to the wild wild west! If you are a Western movie lover, then the American Western Saloon style dog house doors are just what you need. Just think of how great this will look in the backyard. It will be the talk of your barbeques! This style of door is ideal for warmer climates as it allows ultimate airflow. It also brings a good old-fashioned flair to your yard landscaping. Using a spring or gravity-powered returning hinge is ideal for these doors and can easily be obtained at most hardware stores.
2. Barn Slider/Flap Doors
The question is: Can you teach a dog to open a door? The answer is Yes. What I like about this particular design is that you can have a dog house for all seasons. You could have an insulated sliding door that has a built-in flap door. This way, you can open the door in the summer to keep the airflow high. In the winter, you do the opposite, you keep the door closed, and the dog enters through the built-in dog flap. This way, you preserve heat inside the dog house. This is truly a door for all seasons.
3. Powered Automatic Doors
Hold on to your space boots Jetson; we’re bringing a powered tech door to the dog house. It’s actually not that hard to do. I’ll be writing an article with step by step instructions on making this one, but the idea is pretty simple—the dog steps on an activation pad that triggers the door to open. When the dog steps off the pad, the door closes. Simple right? Pocket doors are typically stored right inside the wall, as seen in the picture. A powered pocket door would be the ultimate in advanced tech dog houses. Very cool. I recommend using a 12V DC linear actuator for this; they are relatively inexpensive and easy to set up and wire. See my how-to article (coming soon) with step by step instructions.
You can buy a complete unit like this one that they say can be used for chickens. But we like it for a small to medium dog house!
4. Air Conditioned Dog House Doors – Single Flap Doors
When I think of a dog door, I think of the flap style door that used to be a trend back in the day, usually built right into the dog owners’ house’s back door. You’ve seen them in movies like Home Alone. Just take a look at the main article photo. This appears to be a soft PVC material, a single flap door. This kind of pet door works very well at maintaining a half-decent seal. This is especially true if you can find one with a built-in magnet that holds it in place until the pet pushes its way through.
There are some great benefits to this type of door. First, because it is or can be made of softer plastic-like materials like flexible PVC, it can withstand the elements, and you do not worry about mounting this type of door outside. Second, because it is soft, your pet isn’t likely to ever get hurt, even if in one of their playful moods, they bonk straight into it. The biggest downside to this type and many other types of doors for that matter is that any animal could technically get through.
For example, a family of raccoons or a skunk decides to make the dog house home when the dog is off duty one night. I’ve seen some pretty cool microchip sensing doors for cats that will only unlock the flap when they sense the pet is nearby. This, of course, would require chipping your pet, but the tech is already out there, so it isn’t impossible to go this route either. Some doors sense a device you can clip onto the dog’s collar, which I think is a great idea.
5. Air Conditioned Dog House Doors – PVC Strip Curtain Doors
One of the best and easiest ways to add some climate control to your dog house is with a PVC strip curtain door. These are super easy to make, and you can even buy pre-made curtains. Here’s the concept: A proper curtain setup is typically like having 2 curtains back to back. Each is cut into strips of equal width—the strips of the inside curtain overlap 50/50 over the strips on the outside. See the image below for the strip curtain layout.
Clear, cold temperature PVC strip is used all the time in the food industry. That’s where I learned this technique; it was as a service tech fixing doors. In the food industry, especially at distribution facilities for cold-stored food products like fresh vegetables and so on, there is a lot of forklift traffic. Fresh food must be moved and quickly, so forklifts have to go from a refrigerated area, grab the skids of food and then drive onto the back of a tractor-trailer to load the food onto trucks.
Often to avoid having expensive doors that constantly have to open and close to allow the forklifts, companies will put in strip curtains in the doorway. This allows forklifts to easily drive through the opening without having to open or close a door. It also allows for temperature control as the PVC curtain strips do an excellent job of helping maintain temperature gradients and prevent air movement.
Colder Weather Dog House Doors
Here’s where things can get tricky. In cold weather, everything tends to want to move slower. This is no illusion; it’s an actual scientific fact. The colder an object, the slower the molecules of that object are moving. Proven fact. I believe this is true also for mechanical things. Depending on how cold we’re talking, this could actually be a serious concern. What do I mean? Many parts of the US, as well as Canada, can get a pretty extreme winter. Here in Southern Ontario, where I’m from, temperatures can drop down to as low as -30 Celsius ( -22 Fahrenheit).
Now a pet door is going to emanate cold. This is where some extra tactics come into play. I would consider adding additional layers to help insulate. Let’s say you have a flap style door. Summertime, these are great. When it’s freezing, these doors tend to become brittle. Take a big temperature difference between inside and outside, and what do you get?
Frost. Lots of frosts. It can work its way into hinges and other parts on the door, freezing the door in place. In extreme winter climates, you need to do better. Consider hanging a blanket on the inside of the door as well. Perhaps you have an old duvet, and you can cut a piece out of to hang inside and covering the flap pet door. Most dogs will easily figure out how to get around the ‘curtain’ and go through the flap door. The ‘curtain’ will make a huge difference in helping to keep things insulated.
6. Flap Door With Duvet Curtain
As I discussed, try hanging a piece of an old duvet over the doorway like a curtain. Make it at least 8″ wider than the dog doorway, so it has a nice healthy overlap. Just find a way to attach it to your door, whether you go Red/Green styles with the duct tape or use a nice piece of molding to hold and fasten the curtain in place. This door style could be called something cool like the Insulated Double Flap, but really, it’s just an idea I used in the past for soundproofing that I found worked really well to insulate as well. Tried, tested, and true.
7. Electronic Controlled Pet Door
There are all kinds of these things out there on the market. They run anywhere from $50 – $500, depending on the size and features. I’d go with the reviews on these, and yes, you get what you pay for. I’d say there are two main things to pay attention to when buying one of these pet doors.
1. Warranty – How long the manufacturer is willing to say this is going to work says a lot about the product.
2. What conditions it claims to work in. What if there is a driving rain outside? Is this door going to a short circuit if it gets drenched? With nothing but bigger and crazier storms in the foreseeable future due to our planet changing, you’ll likely need something heavy-duty. Built to last. That’s the motto I like. Anything else just isn’t going to cut it, so do your research before giving your money away for something that might not work long.
What happens if this door breaks down and your pet is locked out while you sleep?
Or even while you’re awake. You think the dog is taking a while; meanwhile, it was locked out and is now wandering around the neighborhood. I’m just saying; it has to be able to work in case of power failure. Your pet NEEDS to be able to get inside in case of a storm or whatever circumstance life decides to throw at it. I’m not certain I trust most of these electronic doors. Most seem pretty cheap to me. But this one is pretty decent. It’s worth a go, for sure, although I’d have it plugged into a backup power supply.
8. Custom Self-Closing Sealed Saloon Style Doors
You could technically make some self-closing insulated doors quite easily. Take 2 sheets of 1/4″ plywood. Cut 3 pieces the same size as your door. Cut all three in half vertically. Take 2 sheets of 1/2″ rigid styrofoam sheet and cut 2 doors out of the styrofoam. Again, cut each in half vertically. Now glue the pieces together, layering as follows: wood, styrofoam, wood, styrofoam, wood.
Leave them for 24 hours for the glue to cure (I recommend any silicone type as it will be waterproof, don’t use white glue). Paint the doors with a good general-purpose waterproof paint. A second coat is always a good idea, by the way, to protect the wood. Now use the same style of self-closing hinges you can use for the saloon-style doors. These are all easily obtained materials from any hardware store. Use brush weather strip along the edges to seal it up. Trick- Use a long bristle brush so the doors can swing freely and aren’t stopped by the brush.
9. Curtain/Soft Door
A friend of mine had a pretty cool idea. He made a multi-layer flap door using my old duvet idea and also using a tarp. He had a small tarp, which was torn in one corner, so wasn’t the first choice for normal tarping sort of actions.
The tarp was still good, other than the rip. He cut several pieces out of the tarp, all of which were slightly larger than the doorway, so he had a nice overlap. These were placed on the outside and inside of the doorway and fastened in place. Also, he used duvet layers, one on the outside and one inside, but both inside the tarp layers. This door was easy for his dog to push through. He had added a skylight and a window to provide light inside the dog house as the tarp/duvet combo blocked out most of the light that was to attempt to enter through the doorway.
10. Chainlink, Bars or Cage
This is the last most common type of dog house doors I care to mention. This style offers amazing airflow and is intended for use to lock up your dog. Perhaps your dog is in the dog house, so to speak? Or maybe you’ve got to go out to pick up the kids and need to lock up the dog while you go out. Either way or for whatever other reason you may need to lock up the dog, these types of outside dog house doors serve that singular purpose and offer zero insulation against the cold, wind, or driving rain. These types of doors are best suited to warmer climates.
Are Pet Doors Secure? What About Security When I Go Out?
This highly effective locking cover for your pet door will more than deter a would-be criminal who thinks they can squeeze in through this door. The Watchdog Security Pet Door Locking Cover will literally lock them out. Then, when you come home, you undo the lock and open up the door for your pooch to freely enter or exit.
Tips and Tricks
1. Keep a door for summer, one for winter, and install so to be able to replace easily.
2. Use a two-in-one system to accommodate all seasons, like the sliding barn door with the built-in flap like a strip curtain door.
3. Insulate your dog house to help with the winter cold. See my article on insulating an existing dog house here.
There are all kinds of ideas out there to make a cool and still functional dog house door, from electronic doors to strip curtains. Given the possibilities for dog house doors, you should be able to develop a great idea of your own, depending on the climate where you live.
Do you have a great dog house door idea? I was hoping you could share it with me for a chance to have it published on Dog House Times. And don’t forget to sign up for the Dog House Times mailing list at the bottom of the page.
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