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Retractable Dog Gates: Keeping Canines Safe and Secure

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When you bring a new puppy home, you have plenty of things you need to consider. There are potential dangers throughout the house. And those same hazards can present problems for adult dogs. But while you can pick up a puppy and carry them away from trouble, it’s not always easy with a full-grown dog. So how do you keep your beloved canine safe? You consider setting up retractable dog gates. They provide a physical barrier without hampering YOUR travel around the house.

Dog Safety

Cats often get the credit for being curious. But canines? They’re interested in the world around them, too. And when they follow their nose around the house or yard, they can find themselves in trouble.

You do your best to monitor your furry friend when you’re home, but you can’t follow your dog around 24/7. (Well, you CAN, but you won’t get much done) That’s why you do your best to add in safety devices inside and out to prevent those curious noses and paws from getting into places that might cause them harm.

But what to do about the parts of your home your dog INSISTS on investigating? For instance, stairs or the laundry – places without doors you can keep shut. That’s where dog gates come in.

Dog Gates

Dog gates work exactly like baby gates. You set them up in doorways or halls to prevent your pup from getting into TOO MUCH trouble. You can also use them for new pet introductions, allowing the two to see and smell each other without direct access.

And to accommodate every situation, you’ll find a variety of dog gate options:

  • Adjustable Tension: For homes that don’t want a permanent feature, tension gates can get put up and taken down. Tension bars hold the gate in place.
  • Freestanding: Another temporary dog gate option, these dog gates stand on their own.
  • Hinged: Similar to freestanding gates, hinged gates don’t require a wall for support. You can bend them into shapes, even forming doggie playpens.
  • Retractable: While permanent, retractable dog gates roll out of the way when you don’t want to use them. You can also operate them with one hand.
  • Walk-Through: You’ll find walk-through options in almost any kind of dog gate. They feature a door that allows you to slip through without needing to step over or take the gate down.

Retractable Dog Gates

Retractable dog gates are features you can install inside OR outside. And while the anchoring hardware IS permanent, the heavy-duty mesh slides open and closed. You can even leave it tucked out of the way when you don’t want to use it. It’s the ultimate walk-through!

The flexibility is what sets the retractable nature ahead of other dog gates. You don’t need to work with tension rods, getting the adjustment JUST RIGHT. (Or worry about the pressure damaging paint on the walls) And there’s no need to step over the gate when you move around the house. Even if you have your hands full, the retractable dog gate opens and closes with one hand – no need to struggle with a complicated latch.

And with no metal bars your dog may get their head stuck in? You’re making a safe choice in your barrier.

We DON’T have retractable dog gates, I admit. We use two tension gates to keep our Greyhound away from the cat food. Getting the setting right meant breaking down and marking the proper spot with a marker. And I still trip trying to step over them.

Choosing a Retractable Dog Gate

Most other dog gates are portable. But you need to install a retractable dog gate into a doorframe or wall. That’s a big decision to make. And you want to make sure you’re choosing the best option before you break out the drill. This means looking for these important features when you start shopping:

  • Materials: Most retractable dog gates use a woven UV-resistant mesh. This means it works outside as well as inside, without fading or wearing thin. But it may not hold up if you have an exuberant pup racing for the barrier.
  • Security: How high can your dog jump? Small breeds usually can’t get over standard gate heights, but you’ll want to find extra tall versions if you have a larger dog.
  • Width: Measuring your door, deck, or hallway is crucial. You want to make sure the retractable dog gate will stretch across the opening. Some models come in extra-wide models, but you need that measurement to know which model to buy.
  • Assembly: You will need to have a few basic tools. But some retractable dog gates are easier to install than others. Read through the instructions and make sure you have everything you’ll need (or have a handy friend on speed dial).

Cautions with Retractable Dog Gates

The majority of retractable dog gates feature a mesh fabric. And, yes, they’re usually found under the category of baby gates – not dog gates. This means you’ll need to take a look at your dog’s behavior before you choose to set one up.

Can the mesh hold up to a flying doggie missile? What about canine paws dangling over the top? The fabric won’t cause as many problems as wood or metal, but they may not work for every breed – or activity level – of dog.

And you’ll want to make sure you CAN install them. The mesh retracts into a permanent housing you bolt to the wall. If you’re renting, you’ll need to repair the walls when you move. And even if you own your house, you may decide to remove the gate down the road, requiring a patch job.

The Best Retractable Dog Gates

Physical barriers help keep your furry friend safe. For puppies, retractable dog gates set up safe zones within the house. And as they get older, those same gates steer them away from dangerous household chemicals or trips down the stairs. But you don’t want to fuss with latches or put yourself at risk trying to step over gates. It’s much easier to slide a gate out of the way and back in place. And these retractable dog gates allow you to do precisely that. Plus, they look pretty spiffy!

Babepai allows you flexibility with your retractable dog gate. With two brackets in every kit, you can set the mesh into multiple openings, allowing you to swing the gate to block different passages. (You can also purchase additional brackets for even more functionality) The gate works up to 54 inches wide, and it stands 34 inches tall. A simple twisting knob lets you lock the mesh panel in place. And if you want to leave the passage open, it locks out of the way, too. For outdoor use, it’s waterproof AND rustproof.

Downsides? People with baseboards in their homes had trouble with installation. You may want to get someone with expert knowledge to help you. And while the extra brackets are nice, they’re not the sturdiest. Neither’s the latch, so don’t put too much pressure on it. You’ll also want to go slow when the mesh is retracting to prevent wrinkling.

The Good

The Bad

Sometimes you need to block a wide opening to your kitchen or laundry space. That’s when you need the EasyBaby retractable dog gate. It can open to cover spaces up to SEVENTY-ONE inches wide! It’s also removable, allowing you to pop the mesh off and take it to another set of mounting brackets in the house. (They give you two sets) That’s like getting two dog gates for the price of one! And at 33 inches high, it’ll work with most dogs. You have three colors (black, white, and grey) to choose from to help the gate coordinate with your house.

The downsides? As with most retractable dog gates, you’ll see EasyBaby advertised as simple to open and close with one hand. And you CAN, but it’s probably better to use two hands. That’s probably not a deal-breaker, but it’s not what people expect. Neither are the struggles with the mesh failing to retract properly. And there IS a gap in the side when it’s engaged, which could lead to your dog trying to wedge through and escape.

The Good

The Bad

MomCozy is another retractable dog gate that allows you to move the barrier around the house. They provide two sets of hardware, giving you the option of an indoor and outdoor setup (or two indoor locations). The gate stretches up to 55 inches wide, and it stands 33.7 inches tall. The locking mechanism is an easy twisting feature you can handle with one hand, making it easy to juggle a leash or any other items you might have in your arms. And they offer you two years of quality assurance from their customer service department.

So what are the downsides? This is another instance where two hands are better than one when it comes to working the latch. You can TRY using one, but keep an eye on everyone around the gate. That’s assuming your dog hasn’t bulled through the mesh already, as it’s not designed for bigger breeds. And when it comes to installation in the first place? This one’s tricky to get into the wall or deck.

The Good

The Bad

If you have a dog that may tear through mesh, you can upgrade to North States. They offer a plastic retractable dog gate. You still get an easy one-handed latch, and it still folds out of the way when you want to keep the doorway free (or you can remove the gate entirely), but it’s made of sturdy plastic. It stretches to fill openings up to 62 inches wide, and it stands 31 inches tall. As to installation? The gate pieces come pre-made. All you need to do is attach the mounting hardware.

Downsides? The materials in the gate kit are designed for wood or metal. So if you have plaster or sheetrock, you’ll need to purchase additional anchoring materials for the gate to remain steady. And if you have baseboards, you could find yourself with issues. It’s also NOT easy to open and close – the plastic catches on itself.

The Good

The Bad

Sometimes you need a little extra height AND width to your retractable dog gate. That’s where OttoLives comes in. It extends up to 54 inches and is 34 inches (that extra inch can make a big difference sometimes). The profile is on the slim side against your doorway, and the mesh retracts on its own when you engage the latch. There’s also a double lock in place to prevent curious paws from accidentally pushing things open. And you can choose either white or grey to match your indoor or outdoor decor.

The downsides? The mesh starts to give the more it’s pushed against. That makes it a dangerous choice for the top of the stairs. Some people also needed two hands for easy operation (for instance, if you have arthritis). And, unhappily, this is another dog gate that’s difficult to install.

The Good

The Bad

If you want the TALLEST retractable dog gate, look to Perma Child. They have a standard option that’s 33 inches high, but they also have an extra tall that reaches FORTY-ONE inches high. That’ll work for ANY pup. It’s also one of the widest, covering openings up to 71 inches. And if you have baseboards? They include the spacer shims you’ll need for an easy installation. You also get a one-year limited warranty!

So what’s the downside? While that extra height sounds awesome, your dog shouldn’t weigh more than 40 pounds. The mesh simply isn’t designed to hold up to any more pressure. (Which leaves out most canines that need the extra inches) 

The Good

The Bad

Probebi allows you to open their retractable dog gate in any direction, and they include two sets of brackets.  They’re also a handy width of up to 55 inches and 34 inches high. Or you can upgrade to a SEVENTY-TWO-inch model and get the widest opening possible. The gates come in black or white, and they completely retract out of sight when you don’t want to use them. You’ll also get two years of quality assurance, just in case you need it.

Downsides? When you read the safety instructions, you’ll find you should only use this dog gate at the bottom of the stairs. The mesh isn’t strong enough for the top of staircases. It also has a 40-pound weight limit. But if your pup’s on the smaller side, it’s handy to have around.

The Good

The Bad

While you appreciate the function of a retractable dog gate, you’d rather not see it when you’re not using it. And Retract-A-Gate has one of the lowest profiles out there. It works at any angle, and the mesh received a push force rating of up to 200 pounds. (This means you can use it on the stairs without a worry) It comes in two widths (52″ and 72″) and stands 34 inches high. You can choose from three colors (black, white, and cafe) to help the hardware blend into your home or deck. And the mesh itself is easy to operate and clean.

The downsides? This dog gate’s expensive, especially since you’ll have to purchase the wall anchors and spacers (if you need them) on your own. You’ll also need to consider your size carefully. People found them coming up a few inches shorter than expected.

The Good

The Bad

Easy Pass-Through

You’d like to set up a safe zone for your new puppy. And, as they grow, you want to prevent your dog from getting into dangerous parts of the house (say, where you keep the household cleaners). But climbing over barriers may put YOU at risk for injury. And some dog gates can cause problems for your pup as they try to get through them. Retractable dog gates don’t have tricky bars, and they’re easy to slide open and closed. And when you’re ready to open the doorway? You can retract them into their housing without a second thought.

So as long as you don’t mind that permanent hardware as a fixture of the house, retractable’s the way to go. It beats practicing for the Olympic hurdles in your home. (Trust me)

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Andria Kennedy

Andria Kennedy

Andria Kennedy worked as a Licensed Veterinary Technician for 10 years, focusing on Emergency/ICU and later Cardiology, as well as volunteering at both the Philadelphia Zoo and Virginia Living Museum for over six years. She's now a freelance writer, but she gravitates toward writing projects with a focus on animals (once an animal-lover, always an animal-lover). She lives in Virginia with her husband, three cats (one "works" as her personal assistant), and a Greyhound who thinks she's a big cat — all of them rescues.

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