A golden retriever looking out through a pet door
October 13th 2021

How to Install a Dog Door

The doggie door, otherwise known as a dog door or pet door, is an essential part of a pet owner’s home. Typically, these doors are used by dogs or cats who need free access to an outdoor area or certain rooms in the house.

In this guide, we talk about the benefits of having a dog door or pet door as well as detailed steps on how to install a dog door yourself.

Let’s get started!

A standard pet door on a wooden door

The Benefits of Having Doggie Doors

Contrary to what is typically shown in movies, pet doors don’t always have to be installed on a front door.

For added pet safety, doggie doors can instead lead to an outdoor fenced area where your dog is free to do its business or play in the grass. As for cats, pet doors can lead towards enclosed “catios” or porch enclosures where they can move around safely. As mentioned earlier, strategically placed pet doors can also allow your pet to move around the house even when interior doors are shut.

Doggie doors provide access to parts of the house or to the outside and will not only make life easier for a well-trained pet, but these doors also help to curb unwanted behaviour such as scratching the door, whining, or barking whenever your pet wants to go somewhere.

Step #1: Determining the Size of Pet Door You’ll Need

The first thing you need to do is determine the size of the pet door that you need. Follow these steps:

  • Measure your dog or cat’s standing height from the floor to the tip of their shoulder blades. Add around two inches to the measurement you have and take note of this number.
  • Next, measure your dog or cat’s standing height from the floor to the top of their elbow. Note this number down as well.
  • Subtract the value you got in step 2 from the value you got in step 1. This is the minimum height that your pet door needs to be.
  • Next, stand over your pet and look for its widest part. Typically, this is the shoulder area. Measure the widest part and add two inches to it. This is the minimum width that your pet door needs to be.
  • Take note of the values you got from step 3 and step 4. You don’t need to look for these exact dimensions when getting a pet door. In fact, when shopping for a pet door, it is advisable to go to the next size that’s slightly larger than these dimensions to ensure that your pet can comfortably use the pet door.

Step #2: Choosing a Type of Dog Door

1. Standard Pet Doors

This is the type of pet door that many are familiar with. The installation process for these pet doors involves cutting a hole into an exterior or interior door. For added security, there are standard pet doors on the market that only allow a pet wearing a microchipped collar to pass through.

2. Pet Doors for Sliding Glass Doors

If your property has sliding doors, pet doors for sliding doors are perfect for you. These pet doors are designed to latch onto the track. This means that installation does not require cutting the door itself.

3. Pet Doors for Open Windows

Pet doors for open windows work the same way as pet doors for sliding glass doors. However, most of these kinds of pet doors only work with hung windows or sliding windows.

A cat using a pet door for sliding glass doors

Step #3: Determine If Your Door is Suitable for DIY Pet Door Installation

If your door is made of metal or steel, it is not advisable to do DIY pet door installation because there is a chance that the cutting tool will bend or warp the door’s surface. For these types of doors, it would be safer and easier to get the dog door installed by a professional.

However, if you have a wooden or fibreglass door, DIY installation is relatively safer. If you have the right tools for the job, it could be an interesting project to undertake.

Step #4: How to Install a Dog Door on Wooden or Fibreglass Doors

Before proceeding, you will need the following:

  • Two sawhorses
  • Tape
  • Safety goggles, mask, and gloves
  • Jigsaw
  • Hand drill
  • Sandpaper (around 40 grit)
  • Measuring tape
  • Caulk

Once you have all the materials ready, follow these steps on how to install a dog door or pet door:

  • Remove the hinge pins from your door to take it down.
  • Next, place your door on two sawhorses with the interior side facing towards you.
  • Take out the cutting template of your purchased pet door and position it on your door. You can estimate the best positioning based on your pet’s height.
    • At the very least, the pet door hole should be at least three inches from the bottom of the door so make sure your cutting template is at this level or higher.
  • Make sure that the cutting template is evenly placed. Then, tape it into position.
  • You are now ready to start cutting the door. Put on eye goggles and other needed safety equipment.
  • Drill holes for each corner of the cutting template.
  • Next, insert the jigsaw into one of the corner holes and cut along the edges of the cutting template.
  • Remove the cut out of the door and sand any rough edges. Be careful of these rough edges, especially for fibreglass doors.
  • Next, test the fit of the pet door on the hole that you made. Mark where the hardware would go.
  • Then, use an appropriately sized drill bit to drill out the places where the pet door’s hardware would go into. Make sure that these are placed at a straight 90-degree angle.
  • Next, fasten the pet door using the intended hardware from both sides of the door.
  • You can finish up by adding caulk along the edges of the pet door.
  • Reinstall your door unto its frame.
  • Don’t forget to lock the pet door when not in use.

Stylish Fibreglass Doors That You Can Count On

That wraps up our guide on how to install a dog door or pet door. The ease of this DIY project is just another one of the benefits of having fibreglass doors.

If you’re looking for replacement fibreglass doors in Toronto, Etobicoke, Mississauga, and other nearby areas, our vast collection at Burano Doors is sure to have the perfect door for you. Contact us today or get started with a free in-home estimate!

Posted by Raj Kain
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