Custom Dog Door Prevents Culinary Atrocities

Riley, an 8 lb pug, has more beauty than brains, and a palate as unrefined as crude oil. While we hate criticizing others’ interests and tastes, his penchant for eating cat poop needed to stop. After a thorough exploration of a variety of options, including cat food additives that make its excrement taste worse (HOW? WHY? Clearly taste wasn’t the issue!), automatic litter boxes that stow the secretions, and pet doors that authenticate access to the room with the litter box, [Science Buddies] eventually settled on a solution that was amenable to all members of the family.

The trick was in creating a door mechanism with a blacklist of sorts rather than a whitelist. As the cat didn’t like to push the door open itself, the solution needed to have the pet door open by default. A magnet on Riley’s collar would trip a sensor attached to an Arduino that would control servos to swing the door shut immediately if he attempted to access the defecated delights. Of course safety was a consideration with the door swinging in Riley’s face.

We’ve covered a few pet screeners, including one for the same purpose that used IR sensors (but a much bigger dog also named Riley), and a flock of solutions for chickens. We’ve also seen [Science Buddies] in previous posts, so they’re not on the tips line blacklist.

31 thoughts on “Custom Dog Door Prevents Culinary Atrocities

    1. Yes! Cats can jump but have ’em weave through close turns which leaves less crumbs on their feet when they are out and hides the pan for both of us. Not puppy proof but then a little height does it.

    2. This…
      We placed our boxes in the hallway closet and put a pet door on the wall around the corner of the closet. It is just high enough that the cats can get in but the dogs have too hard a time to getting there. the hallway is usually closed off with a child safety gate and the cats can jump over it or go under but the dogs can not.

    3. No good. Our first poodle jumped to the table and helped himself to whatever food there was left, it was like a buffet for him. Also learned how to open bags without ripping them and treated himself to slices of bread and potato chips. He was an athlete, I should have trained him for the Cruft course.

      Second poodle resorted instead to reason. He’d come and tap my leg to let me know he was there and waiting for his ration of pasta.

    4. Give the pug a few mild zaps and he’ll be conditioned – and no more need for fancy equipment.

      Don’t try such a thing with cats though, they will only relent for a bit, plus they’ll find a way to avenge..

      1. I think they meant that the external leads would break due to being bent back and forth by the cat going in and out.

        I think that possible/probable deficiency could be mitigated by shrouding the sensors in thin plywood or even corrugated cardboard: not magnetically shielding, thin enough to let the magnet come into close contact with the sensor, cheap.

        Then again, if the dog never tries to get through, it won’t matter if the sensors even exist.

        I’d also want to add some sort of noise, triggered by the same magnet+reed relay scheme, that annoyed or scared the dog enough to keep it from coming back.

        If the dog *always* steps on the board, and the cat *never* steps on the board, one microswitch would probably get the job done.

      2. We use reed switches in escape rooms – the glass ones breaks a lot – it’s not the switch that breaks, but if you put the glass one under any stress (even larger vibrations, like on a door that somebody can close harder or something) the glass tend to crack around the lead and after that the reed switch is dead – we avoid the glass one completely now. There are other kind – enclosed in plastic – small white knobs (or larger white rectangles) with leads – i think they are for installing in furniture – these are nearly indestructible.

    1. We tried leaving it propped open just a smidge and gently nudging him through so he’d get the idea that he COULD push through it, and we could get him through like that (with much encouragement and food on the other side), but if it was completely closed he would never go through it on his own.

      1. Cat is defective.
        But good news, no shortage.

        I just don’t do litter boxes. Cats can go outside or go away. Don’t care if raining.

        Worst way to get woken up.
        By a dog that got all happy because he got away with eating kitty poop (while still warm, had stalked cat). So jumps in bed to wake you by licking your face (for play). Has ‘cat treat’ stuck between teeth.

        Hold cat in carrier up to cat door. Assuming your cat hates cat case. They’re bullets out of those things.

        Get better dog food. Cats digestion suck. You cats poop could have higher protein content then dogs food.
        I for one will never feed my cats higher protein food then my dogs. Dogs get top grade food. I have to search for cheap cat food. Then equal crude protein. So dogs get steak.

    2. I had one of those magnetic door screen things, the cat didn’t want to go through it so I picked her up and tossed her through (just six inches, nothing harmful) and once she flew through she figured it our and used it just fine after that. Guess animals just need to experience something to understand it.

  1. You’ve got to admire though how the solution is staring him into the face and yet goes unnoticed.
    The cat walks over the block of wood.
    The dog steps on the block of wood.
    There’s your criterion.

  2. Better dog food.
    A5 Kobe beef, forigras and ahi tuna for dog.
    Cunningly prepared to look like cat poop.

    Cats have inefficient digestion.

    ‘Cat treats’ have more protein than most dog food.

    1. Got your ‘eat on the bed’ story beat.

      After eating one he got ‘still warm from dispenser’ (stalked cat), he got all happy because he got away with it. So jumped in bed and licked my face for 2am playtime (as is tradition). Still had treat between his teeth.

  3. Zapper on dog’s collar and a coil around the opening. Saw this as a virtual fence in the courtyard. As the dog approaces the limit is zapped slighty. If it come close to the edge it gets worse for the dog. The coil is burried in the courtyard. In fac there were two coils, one for each punishment level.

  4. That pug behavior is pretty much widespread across animal species, and present some health advantages. There is a reason why dogs have a rock-solid stomach. Many health problems come from unbalanced gut biome. Processed food is by far the biggest threat to gut health. Coprotherapy is used to heal some auto-immune diseases.

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