Obviously 2020 has been a wash for travel plans. But in prep for all my travel ideas for 2021, I started searching for the best automatic pet door to make it easier on my dogs and pet sitter when we are away. I had a big wish list; collar activated so my cats don’t go out, ability to set a schedule with it, a collar that can also do bark control and preferably an app that I could monitor usage when I am gone. This left me with only one option on the market. The High Tech Pet Wifi automatic door with the Bluefang dog collar. Just so you know, I am in no way affiliated with High Tech Pet and will make no money by writing this review. That being said, I had a heck of a time finding reviews on this door and feel like someone needs to write one, might as well be me! I’m sorry, it’s more like a novel than a review, but there is a lot of info to cover!
While I feel like the pros outweigh the cons, I know this article is going to come out looking a little lopsided as the pro’s are few. Namely- It does the job. It may not be a beautiful addition to my back door, but the dogs can now come and go as they please. I purchased the large as I was concerned the medium would be too small for our Pointer to easily get in and out. Since he’s a chicken, I didn’t want anything to scare him away from using it. Which means that it takes up quite a bit of real estate on our exterior door and covers some of the window. But again, it works and fulfills all the functions I wanted it too, for the most part.
Functions I like:
The app allows me to set a schedule for when the dogs can go out and come back in. For example, I have it set to allow them to go out between 6am and 10pm but can come back in 24×7. That way I know that neither of them will get stuck outside overnight if they go out right before it locks at 10pm. It will still allow them to access the door from the outside, but will not allow them back out once they come in and it shuts.
The app also sends me notifications if there are any errors with the door or the battery is low.
The door comes with 1 waterproof collar to activate the door. You can purchase additional collars, OR upgrade it to their Bluefang model which is an “ultimate” 5 way training collar. It can give commands for training purposes like a remote training collar with a tone/vibrate/static shock function that works from an app on your phone. This collar also works with their automatic doors, their invisible fencing system, offers bark control with settings to use either tone, static shock or both and monitors how often your dog barked. It also has a fitness monitor like a fit bit for dogs to tell you how much activity your dog has done that day, tracks your dog’s BMI and lets you know if they need more activity. In other words, this collar is pretty awesome in theory. I needed it for bark control and door opening. For that, it has worked, with minor inconveniences.
What I don’t like:
First of all, I’ll say the issues with the door, then I’ll review the Bluefang collar.
The door has a nifty setting to say how far away the collar will activate and open the door from both the inside and the outside. I initially set it to activate about 4′ away from the door on the inside and 2′ from the outside. That allowed the door to be fully open when the dog got to it on the inside so they could quickly get out if they had a potty emergency. The 2′ from the door on the outside allowed them to lay in their favorite sunny spot on the deck without triggering the door to stay open the whole time. Seems great, except it doesn’t always work. I’ve pretty much figured at this point, they’ll likely have to stand right in front of it and wait for it to open which is what it seems to do about 60% of the time. One dog’s collar seems to be noticed quicker than the other, for reasons beyond me, they have the same battery level in both. So yes, it’s still working, just maybe not exactly how it’s supposed to.
I purchased the door with the battery charger pack. I do not have an outlet nearby to hide the cord well to use the AC adaptor. (Note, to set up the door, you do need to use the AC adaptor WITHOUT a battery in, it will not connect to your wifi with the battery in when you initially set it up.) I had hoped one battery would last a week… Nothing on the website said how long the charge would last, and I’m sure that’s dependent on how often your dogs go in and out as to how fast the battery would drain. However, I have not had a battery last more than 24hrs yet. It’s ok if I’m home, I just swap out the batteries every morning and place the dead one on the charger. But if we are away, we will have to use the AC adaptor and an extension cord. I will say that one good feature of the battery is for a back up. If the power goes out, it will switch to battery and your dogs won’t be stuck on one side or the other.
The app leaves a little to be desired. It doesn’t always register how many times the door has been used. For example, it’s telling me that it’s been opened from the outside 3 times today so far, and I know the dogs have been in and out at least twice that many times. Maybe not too important, but if I’m away and monitoring how often the dogs are in and out I would want that to be accurate or I might freak out on my pet sitter thinking the dogs have died and haven’t gone out more than twice that day, when in actuality they’ve been in and out 20 times… I also wish it would let me know which collar activated the door. Again, for when we are gone. If I could see one dog is going in and out, but the other isn’t, then I need to call the pet sitter. My goal is to have the pet sitter visit once a day and everyone be pretty self sufficient otherwise.
Looks wise, the door is pretty slim and I don’t mind it. I think it would look pretty decent if used on a wall too, I just didn’t have the wall space for it. They also offer a sliding door insert option, but that didn’t work for me either. My back door is metal with a window. I did inquire before purchasing if the metal door may interfere with the collar signal. They did tell me that it might. I took a chance on it anyway as my door does have a window that would hopefully not block the signal and I saw one other review with a user that had my same door. I knew it was a risk, but my back door was ugly anyway. So I figured if it didn’t work, it would be an excuse to get a new one. We do not seem to have any issues with the signal being blocked. But the door does cover some of the window so it’s not the most attractive. This may be a deal breaker for you depending on where your door is located.
It is not super loud, but I’m not sure I would be too happy if I had this near my bedroom as I’m a pretty light sleeper. I’ll add a video so you can hear it. The sound scared my Pointer at first and it took some training to build his confidence to use it. That said, it only took a few days for him to realize it wouldn’t attack him.
On to the Bluefang collar. Again, my door did come with one waterproof collar that would activate the door only, but I upgraded to High Tech Pet’s Bluefang collar as it also had a bark control function.
The collars are fairly slim. I have a few bark control collars and this is the smallest. It comes with two sizes of prongs, which I thought was nice as they are shorter than my other collars and not so uncomfortable for a collar you leave on 24×7. The Bluefang app seems pretty in depth but if you are buying this collar for training, know that it uses the bluetooth on your phone and will max out distance wise around 20′ from you. So if you are trying to teach a recall and want to use a tone or vibration correction, your dog can’t be too far away. My cheap amazon remote collar does a far better job and is much more trustworthy to get my dog’s attention. I also found that my phone would go to sleep between training commands and in the time it took to wake back up and tap the button, I was already past the “sweet spot” for training. It needs to be more instant than 1.5 seconds after the fact. My feeling is, this isn’t the best for a training collar unless you are working your dog right next to you and set your phone to not sleep while training. Also not good if you need to switch between dogs as that takes a couple more buttons and a few seconds for your phone to connect to the other collar. So you’ve lost that instant moment of correction and now your dog is onto something else.
The collar seems to activate the pet door fine but i wish the blue fang app integrated with the pet door app to monitor which dog has gone in and out. Rather than having two separate apps and no monitoring of the individual collar. Like I mentioned above, it would be nice to know which dog is going in/out if you have multiple dogs using the door.
It does offer a fitness function to monitor the activity level of your pet which I think is kind of neat, but maybe not as important to me as both of my dog’s are active and not overweight.
Bark control has been somewhat frustrating. It has you set the weight and loudness level of your dog. This may take some adjustment. I got one collar to figure out my dog’s bark right away but the other one took me days to get it to register his unique bark. I think he’s quite loud, but the collar had to be set fairly quiet to pick up his bark. I do like that it tells me how often the dog has barked. I have it set to tone and static combined. It starts out low and intensifies if they continue to bark. I have not heard the tone, but I have seen the reaction of the static shock. Both of my dogs are quite soft and will stop after the first warning. I don’t know that they have been as effective as my previous bark collar, but my dog’s know when they have a collar on that they will get a shock for barking and don’t test it too much. For that, it’s done it’s job. But for a bad barker, you might need to play with this one more as i’m not sure it will detect them 100% if the setting isn’t correct.
The batteries on these collars have to be ordered from High Tech Pet. Reviews say they last 1-2 months. I have yet to run down a battery and the app tells you what the battery level is. But i did buy a 6 pack for $39 so I’m prepared to swap them out.
There comes one of the biggest cons. This is not a cheap set up. The wifi door is $499 in the large size. The bluefang collar is $142, plus collar batteries multiple times a year. And this means putting a hole in a door or a wall if you don’t have a sliding door. If you plan to sell your house again soon, or are renting, you’ll be replacing that door/fixing the wall once you remove your pet door. High Tech Pet does run some specials and I purchased the door and batteries for 15% off, but the shipping was rather expensive and ran me $41. I did not see the Wifi door being sold on Amazon or anywhere else. Their non-wifi door can be found on many different websites like Home Depot, Amazon, Chewy and Wayfair. I did get my Bluefang collars during Wayfair’s Way Days as it was on sale for $100. That was a pretty good savings. I highly recommend shopping around for deals.
So do I recommend this set up? Yes! It is the only door on the market with an app to monitor settings and usage. I do like the Bluefang collar for the extra functions it has as well. Is it a little glitchy? Yes. But as with all new technology, there is a learning curve and limits to perfection.