One issue when bringing a puppy home is deciding how to provide exercise for him as he grows. Some pet parents have a fenced-in backyard or install the best invisible dog fences for Fido to roam and play. However, our busy lives sometimes dictate how we handle trips outdoors. This often causes pet parents to want to know how to install a doggie door for their canine companions.
A doggie door can be beneficial for your pooch in many ways. A well-trained dog can go in and out as he pleases even when our pet parents are busy. This can allow for pups to go to the bathroom as needed as well as go out for some exercise without our direct supervision. Plus, a doggie door is a great idea for those pet parents who work outside the home.
A doggie door can allow for pet parents to not only sleep in on days off; it can also prevent doggie messes when we do get to stay in bed a little longer. So, it’s a win-win situation for both your pup and yourself, too!
How to Measure your Dog for the Doggie Door?
The first step to properly installing the doggie door is to measure your dog. Dog doors come in a variety of sizes, from a 5 x 8-inch door to a 13 x 23-inch door. Keep in mind that the opening width of the door should be two inches wider than the widest part of your pup.
You’ll also want to make sure that the opening height of the door is two inches taller than the top of your pup’s shoulders to its chest (measuring just behind the front legs). These two extra inches in width and height make certain that your dog doesn’t have to squeeze himself coming in or going out of the doggie door.
Getting Ready to Order the Perfect Door
Finding a pet door is typically the easiest part of the installation process. You can find a doggie door at a wide variety of stores or online, from Home Depot to Lowe’s to Amazon. If you prefer, choose from today’s best electronic dog doors with easy-installation and dog access smart key features. You may also find pet door installation kits at your local pet store.
When ordering the doggie door, you will provide the measurements and place the order for the kit. The pet door kit will come with a template. You’ll use this to cut the proper space on your existing door.
However, some kits do not offer a template. No problem! You’ll just use a plastic slide to measure and cut out the appropriate size on the desired exterior door of your home.
You’ll want to place the template or plastic slide three inches from the bottom edge of the door. You will want to tape the template in place so that your measurements and the cut-out will be accurate.
Once you have the template securely in place, you’ll want to take the door off its hinges and place it across two sturdy sawhorses. Use a pencil to trace the inside edge of the template on the door. Your doggie door will likely need screw holes to keep the door in place, so use this opportunity to mark the screw hole placement.
Remove the template, and mark four Xs on the inside corners of the outline you’ve traced on the door. This will be used for drilling.
Time to Drill
Now you’ll want to drill holes in each inside corner of the outline with a half-inch drill bit.
If your pet door will require outer hardware as well, you’ll need to mark and screw these holes into the area. Most manufacturers recommend a 3.8 inch bit for outer hardware, so use that size drill bit.
Let’s Get Cutting
You’ll need a jigsaw to cut out the dog door itself. Start in one corner of the outline, inserting the jigsaw blade into the half-inch corner hole that you drilled out previously. Be sure to cut steadily but carefully around the outline so that the cut is perfect.
Keep in mind that you may need a different type of cutting tool depending upon the type of exterior door you are using. A reciprocating saw can be used on a wooden door or one crafted from fiberglass. Some fiberglass exterior doors can be cut with a circular saw utilizing a diamond blade to make the initial cut; however, you’ll want to use a reciprocating saw on the corners.
Let’s Make the Frame
Now you’ll want to install the frame (without the flap). Place this on the exterior front of the door. The frame should be flush with the inside door surface. There are ways to make the pet door frame flush if it is not, such as using pliers to remove a break-off level which will thin the frame and make it flush with the rest of the door.
Once you’ve got the exterior frame flush, it’s time to insert the inner frame. Again, it may not be flush, so you’ll use the pliers once again to break off the level and get it flush with the door’s interior surface.
Now it’s time to put the doggie door in place and insert the screws. Be sure to tighten them until they are snug without over-tightening them.
It’s a good idea to caulk around the inside of the outer frame. This will prevent air from leaking back inside your home as well as prevent drafts.
Training your Dog
Ironically, the toughest part of installing pet doors is training Fido to use the new exit.
Some dogs may take to the new door with ease while others don’t quite understand what the new door is for. Most experts say that using treats is the best way to show Fido how to use his new exit. You may have to begin by leaving the doggie door flap off for a day or two (but only while you’re home, of course).
You may have to line some treats up where Fido can find them and wiggle out of the door on his own, or you may have to catch him using the doggie door and reward him with dog treats afterward. Soon, your dog will pick up on the idea that he can come and go out of the door as he pleases and that the new exit is a “good thing.”
Younger dogs may have a tougher time learning how to use the doggie door. Experts note you may have to use a rewarding method at least three times to ensure your dog is aware of how to use the door properly .
Other tips and tricks
It’s always a good idea to start with a brand new exterior door. You’ll want to make sure the door is made of durable material, such as wood, fiberglass, or steel. There are certain things to keep in mind when one is installing a doggie door in a steel door, but the installation itself is not that different.
1. Is it hard to install a doggie door?
Provided one has the right tools handy, no, installing a doggie door is not difficult at all. Of course, if all else fails, there are many local companies that will install the doggie door for you. Providing a doggie door can be beneficial for both pet parents and pets alike. Fido will be able to go outside to the bathroom at will, and you’ll have less mess to clean up in the event you oversleep one morning during Fido’s normal walk time.
2. How much does it cost to install a doggie door?
The price will vary based on the materials needed; the average price is $780. Some installations are as low as $100 while others range into $1000 per install.
3. Can you buy a door with a doggie door already installed?
Yes, you can purchase a doggie door with the opening and flap already installed. This could actually be more cost-effective for pet parents. Some of these doors are under $300, while others range around $1000. The cost will depend upon the material from which the exterior door is made.
4. How high should a dog door be off the ground?
A doggie door should typically be at least three inches off the ground, meaning one has measured from the bottom of the exterior door to get the correct height. Smaller dogs may need to have the door at two inches off the ground instead.