August 6, 2014

A whole range of smart features are now available in an unexpected place, the dog door aisle.

These smart features allow dog owners to choose specific times of day to allow, or not allow, their pet access outside, and they provide an added layer of security by only opening to pets programmed to access the door.

Some can be wired to in-home security systems, and most can be installed in a door, the wall or even a sliding glass patio door.

“Our newest innovation in pet doors is the Passport Pet Access Smart System,” said Robin Hawn Rhea, senior brand manager at PetSafe. “With its contemporary design and advanced entry and exit technology, the Passport pet door provides freedom and peace of mind no other pet door offers.”

The Passport system works using radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, and reads the Passport Key, which is worn on the pet’s collar. This technology only allows pets with programmed IDs to enter and exit, which keeps out other pets, wild animals and strays.

“Offering advanced selective entry and exit by pet, multiple access options such as in-only access and out-only access, and the option to only allow access at specific time of day, the Passport gives you complete control of each pet’s access for up to 20 pets,” said Rhea.

The Solo Pet Doors option similarly includes a sensor tag to be worn on a pet’s collar. The door locks in the closed position for added security and can be connected to a home security system.

The Pet Door is a vertically sliding motorized door that is electronically activated by the sensor. The distance at which the pet triggers the door and sensitivity of the door opening time can be adjusted. This technology is also available in a door to fit the frame of a sliding glass door. The brand also has a kennel door system that electronically – via cell phone – allows a dog owner to open and close the dog door by turning it on, or off.

Rhea said PetSafe has a remote technology coming later this year.

“We will be introducing a wireless accessory that will allow for future remote programming from any smart device offering ultimate convenience for today’s busy pet parents,” she said.

Variety of Choices

High Tech Pet manufactures two different automatic dog doors.

The first, the Power Pet Door, uses an engineered ABS plastic composite for durability. The sensor that goes on the dog’s collar is “directional ultrasonic detection circuitry,” which means that the door will only open when the dog is on a direct approach, rather than walking past. The doors are available in two sizes: medium, for pets up to 30 pounds, and large, for pets up to 90 pounds.

Additionally, they manufacture a version for sliding glass doors that accommodates small pets, up to 20 pounds. The Electronic Patio Pet Door is designed for cats and small dogs and has a spring-loaded top that provides an adjustment range of two-and-a-half inches to fit into a patio door opening. The Electronic Patio Dog and Cat Door is triggered by a magnetized collar tag.

More innovations will continue to hit the market, though the bestsellers continue to be standard pet doors.

“Right now the most popular doors seem to be our Specialty Doors,” said Rhea. “These doors serve a certain purpose, like our Extreme Weather door with a three-flap system that keeps extreme hot and cold weather out of the home while giving your pet the freedom to come and go. And, our Wall Entry Door that gives the flexibility to install a pet door in a wall instead of a door.”

The key to helping transition customers to these new, innovative automatic doors? Education.

Customers may have concerns about the technology, so being able to demonstrate how the doors work – and how they are programmed – can go a long way toward making the sale. Plus, these doors are at a much higher price point than a traditional flap-style dog door, so the customer needs to understand the benefits and features associated with an automatic dog door.

“Education for the consumer is critical and the knowledge of the associates that help them is also critical,” Rhea said. “The PetSafe Pet Door range is vast.  With options for both cat and dog, selective entry and exit, and various locking and closing systems, so the decision could be a tricky one.”

She said the biggest question customers have when facing the dog door aisle is, “Which pet door should I choose?” The retailer has the responsibility to educate the customer on everything from how to measure their pet to choose the right size door to installation advice. Rhea said,

“Be the expert and help your customers by asking them, ‘Where do you want to install your pet door? Do you have multiple pets?’ she said. “That can help narrow down the choice for the customer and make it much simpler for the pet parent to choose the right door.”

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