Installing a Dog Door: What You Should Know

Give Fido his own personal entrance by adding a doggie door.

Pet Flap Interior

Pet Flap Interior

The convenience a dog door offers far outweighs any concerns or obstacles you may face when installing one; in fact, it can be relatively simple. Installing a dog door that leads to your backyard or a fenced-in area can give your pup the freedom to come and go as he or she pleases. 

Prepwork

First, you’ll want to know the approximate measurements of your furry friend. You’ll use these to determine what size door to purchase. Before you buy, be sure to check the packaging on the dog door for any special instructions regarding installation, sealing, maintenance or information about the types of doors in which the particular model can be installed. 

Which brings us to the next point to consider: what type of exterior door do you have? You should be able to install the dog door in a wood, metal or fiberglass exterior door. Knowing what kind of door you have may help you to determine what type of tools you’ll need for the project. 

Measurements and Placement

Once you’ve completed these initial steps, you’ll want to start by removing the exterior door from it’s hinges and laying it across a couple of sawhorses to create a workstation. Center the dog door on the exterior door and mark your measurements. Note that you’ll want to place the door at the appropriate height for your dog to enter and exit easily; this should be at least two inches above the height of your dog and at least three inches from the bottom edge of the door to keep the integrity of your door intact. Your dog door kit may include a template to help with measuring and marking the outline of the frame onto the exterior door. 

Use the template or the frame to mark the points where the screws will be placed to attach the doggie door to the regular door. Using the appropriate size and type bit (depending on your screw size and door material) and a drill, predrill these holes. Remember, if at any point you don’t feel comfortable, consider hiring a contractor for installation. 

Installation 

If you have a wood door, use a reciprocating saw to cut along the traced outline. For fiberglass, you can use a reciprocating saw as well, or if you prefer try a circular saw with a diamond blade. Note that you’ll want to wear a mask to prevent you from inhaling any fiberglass or dust while cutting. For metal doors, you may need a combination of saws: the circular saw with a diamond blade to start and the reciprocating saw to square up the corners neatly. 

Place the inner frame of the pet door into the cut opening, and then attach the other frame the other side of the door, pushing them together until they meet snugly. Next, you’ll need to secure the doggie door to the exterior door by attaching the screws into the predrilled holes. If any gaps remain, use caulk to seal around the newly installed doggie door. Once the caulk is dry, reattach the door — complete with your new dog door — to its frame.

Next Up

Installing a Storm Door: What You Should Know

Learn the basic functions, plus preparation and planning tips, for adding a screen door to your home.

Installing a Screen Door: What You Should Know

Screen doors are one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors without unwanted pests or bugs. Check out this basic guide of good-to-know info before purchasing, installing or repairing your own screen door.

Installing French Doors: What You Should Know

One of the most popular entry doors, especially for patios and side entrances, French doors can allow light and a breeze into your home. Read on for style, purchasing and installation tips.

Installing a New Front Door? Read This Before You Get Started

Learn the basics about installing a new front door or replacing an old one before you decide whether to tackle the job yourself or hire a pro.

Installing a Double Entry Door: What You Should Know

Create a welcoming — and spacious — entry to your home with not one, but two exterior doors.

How Hard Is It to Install a Sliding Glass Door?

Patio doors, also referred to as sliding-glass doors act like large-scale windows to offer amazing views of the outdoors, plus they give the benefit of easy access to your home’s exterior. But, how hard are they to install? Here’s what you need to know.

Choosing a Front Door

There are many options to choose from when deciding on a front door. Learn the facts so you can choose the best one for your needs.

The Most Popular Front Door Colors

Find a paint color that’s a match for your personal taste and your home’s style.

Front Door Hardware: Handles, Knobs and More

From locks and handles to knobs, hinges and door knockers, front door hardware options abound. Here’s a look at what’s available.

The Pros and Cons of a Wood Front Door

Wooden front doors have loads of appeal and benefits, however there are also some considerations to take into account. Know both before you select a wooden entry door.

Get Social With Us

We love to DIY. You love to DIY. Let's get together.

Discover Made + Remade

See the latest DIY projects, catch up on trends and meet more cool people who love to create.

Make It. Fix It. Learn It. Find It.