LIFESTYLE

How to Make A Dog Gate from Scratch

Homemade dog gate
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Finding the right dog gate for your pet can be time consuming and even frustrating so it might be a better idea to just learn how to make a dog gate from scratch. Although not all of us are skilled in carpentry, this is an easy way to create your own dog gate without having to spend much. This is definitely one of the best options if you want to save money and if you prefer a more personalized touch to your gate. Besides, everyone has a different kind of need in terms of their pet’s size.

Keeping your pet in one place is not a very easy thing to do. You will have to consider their temperament, their size and strength, the level of convenience that you wish to provide for them, the specific purpose that you have in mind, as well as your budget.

Expensive electronic dog gate

It may be pretty easy for you to just put up some sort of divider to keep your pet out of your room while others require a fixed and stronger structure to keep their pets out. Hence, the ultimate decision in creating a dog gate will depend on you and your pet’s needs.

Types of dog gate

In order to build the right dog gate for your pet, you first need to know the various types of dog gate that there are. This will help to give you an idea of what the overall structure and materials of the dog gate would be as well as safety precautions that you may need for your pet. Having an idea of these types will also help you plan carefully for the construction of the gate and avoid any unneeded expense and effort in the process.

Dog gates Infographic

It is also a good way of looking at some features which may suit your dog gate.

  • Freestanding dog gate. This is the type of dog gate that you can set up and does not need wall or floor installations. These types of dog gate either have some added weight at their bottom bars for added stability or they may have multiple panels which help to balance the gate. One of the best aspects of this type of gate is that you don’t need to do a lot of muscle work to set it up. You just simple spread the panels or just put it up in the area where you want it.
  • Fixed dog gate. This type of dog gate is more permanent but is also sturdier than a freestanding one. It can be made of light or heavier materials depending on your option and can also come in various heights to suit the size of the pet and the owner’s needs.
    You can make a lower dog gate to make it easy for you to go over or you can make a taller one if you have a bigger dog. This type will need some drilling and screws in order to attach it to a door frame or wall. Make sure to assess your needs and whether you are willing to make a more permanent additional fixture in your home.
  • Indoor dog gate. This type is used, as its name suggests, your home and so they are primarily made to separate a particular room or area from your dog. These are often made of lighter materials and are usually made with a low profile to allow people to go over them easily. This also includes those types of gates which are used for the top or bottom of the stairs.
  • Outdoor dog gate. This kind of gate is installed outdoors and is often used to keep the dog away from other dogs or pets. They are meant to be weather proof and so are made of sturdier materials. These can also come as standalone gates which can be turned to form an enclosure to keep your dogs in one place.

You can also categorize dog gates according to materials used. You can make them out of the following:

  • Wood
  • Metal
  • Glass/fiberglass
  • Plastic fences or lattice
  • Fabric on metal, wood, or plastic frames

Materials (from scratch) to make dog gates

If you are on a tight budget, you can try using whatever material you have on-hand to make your DIY dog gates.  You simply have to be imaginative and creative to find a material that will work for you. If you look at the various types of materials that you can use for the dog gate, you can see that you can get this at your own home. The other things that you will need for the project will depend on whether you will be making a fixed or freestanding version.

But basically, you will need the following materials:

  • Markers such as pencils or chalk
  • Tape ruler for measuring distances
  • Saw
  • Scissors for cutting
  • Drill
  • Screws
  • Latch
  • Hinges
  • Paint
  • Wood and metal glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Staple gun
  • Cable ties
  • Nails

Your base materials will depend on how sturdy you want the gate to be. If you are opting for a fixed dog gate, then you may have to find a wood or metal material as they can withstand a lot more opening and closing as well as any chewing or jumping around by your dog.

Standing dog wood gate with metal bars

To find these, you can use the following stuff which could be in your home:

  • An old baby crib
  • The frames of a chair or bench
  • A picket fence
  • An old door
  • A headboard
  • Large picture frames that you don’t use anymore
  • PVC pipes
  • Windows
  • Old trellises
  • Door or window screens

You have to make sure that the materials are still in good and usable condition otherwise, they may get broken easily when your dog tries to jump over them or climb onto them.  If not, then you may have to buy the materials themselves from your local hardware.

Standing wooden pet gate

This list contains suggestions for cheap materials that you can buy although you can also go for more expensive ones such as fiberglass, wrought iron, and so on. It will all depend on what you can afford. If this is the case then you may have to buy:

  • 1×2 wood
  • Plywood
  • Caps and joints for PVC pipes
  • Wood panels
  • Plastic or wire mesh or screen
  • Wooden dowels

Things to consider in making a dog gate

Before you proceed to creating your own dog gate, you should think about some factors that can affect how you construct the gate. You have to think of the area where you will be putting it up, the amount of traffic that it gets, the width of the door or passageway that you have to block, how strong your dog is, and how permanent you want the gate to be. Here are some things that you have to take note of before buying your materials or starting to form the gate.

  • Your dog’s height. I am referring actually to their shoulder height as this would form as the basis of how tall your dog gate should be. The ideal height would be twice of your dog’s shoulder height as this can prevent them from jumping over the gate while still allowing them to peek on whatever is happening on the other side and preventing them from feeling lonely.
  • Your dog’s temperament and strength. When building a dog gate, you need to make sure that it is strong enough against whatever your dog would be doing with it. Expect them to try all the efforts that they can make either to go through, climb, or jump over it. There are dogs however, which have a more passive reaction to dog gates and would not try to open or go through it. If this is the case, then a freestanding dog gate would be a good option. If not, then a fixed gate would be a proper one.
  • The area that you will be putting it. If you will be installing the gate outdoors, then you need something that can withstand weather elements while an indoor dog gate will be able to use some light materials such as fabric. You also need to consider whether there is a stable base in which you can fix the gate to or if you have to add some wood panels or posts as well.
    If you will be installing it on the top of the stairs or on a terrace on a higher level, make sure that it is the fixed type whereas if it would be at the bottom of the stairs then you can make a standalone gate.
  • Amount of traffic the area receives. You also need to think about the amount of traffic that the area gets. Do people need to pass by it frequently or will it be an area for your dog only. If you and your family or other people would need to pass through it often then you may have to build a lower gate or one that snaps back to a locked position either through a spring or a bungee cord.
  • Permanent or temporary dog gate. You also need to think of whether you want the gate to be there for just a day or for a few months or even years. This is to help you select the best materials to choose and whether you are willing to place a few dents on your wall or door frame for the installation. Freestanding dog gates are often preferable for temporary purposes.

Steps in making the dog gate

  1. Measure the width or span of the area that you want to be closed off. This is the first thing to do in making your dog gate. You have to make sure you are getting the correct measurements so you can plan the size of the dog gate accordingly. You also need it to make the necessary adjustments to the gate especially if you will be attaching door hinges.
  2. Select your materials. Think about the kind of materials that you would like to use. Would you be using an old door? A crib? An old table or bench that you do not want to use anymore or would you like a gate made of fabric for easy use and for hygienic purposes?
  3. Create your frame. This step is for those who would be using wire mesh, PVC, fabric and even wood or metal gate. Cut out the lengths that you want for the height and the width of the gate. Deduct about ½ to ¾ of an inch from the width if you will be using hinges to allow for the thickness of the hinge. If you will be making a PVC frame, connect the corners by using an elbow or T-joint.
    Wood and metal frames may have to be joined later on since you will have to put the panels inside first. If you are building a freestanding dog gate, then you will also need to make the base frame which will help it stand.
  4. Build the wall panels. Now this will differ again, depending on the type of materials that you want to choose. If you will be using wood panels, then the first step is to saw them into the desired length and width and then sand them. Glue the panels together and then nail or screw them into another piece of wood running horizontal to the wood panels. Make sure to drill holes into wood panels before attaching them with screws for a more secure attachment.
    For plastic panels such as those using plastic lattices, cut out them out into desired size making sure that they would fit the frame that you have made. For fabric, measure the overall size of the frame by going over and around the frames so you also get the thickness of the frame. If you will be using a wire mesh, then just cut out and staple them to the frame or tie them with cable ties.
  5. Do the finishing touches. After you have made the panels, it would now be the time to give it your finishing touch. This includes staining, painting, glossing, and attaching any decorative element to the panel.
  6. Attach the hardware. If you will be making several panels attached by a hinge, then this will be the time to do them. The number of hinges that you will need to attach will depend on the height of the panels. Those that are 24 inches and below may only need two hinges each while those 30 inches and above may need about 3 or more. The best place to attach them would be about 3 to 4 inches from the edge of the panel. This would also be the time to make the latches fit to the right height on the door frame or the wall.
  7. Install the dog gate. For this step, you may have to literally set up the gate beside the door or wall where you intend to put it so you can make the right drill holes for the hinges and the latch or lock. This is sometimes better than measuring the height of the gate and the wall since you will be closer to the actual measurement. Mark the points where the screw holes for the hinges lay on the frame or the walls and then drill the areas.
    Make sure you use the same size of drill bit as the screws that you will need. Make a similar mark on the wall on the spot that corresponds to the placement of your gate latch.

Making a dog gate is really an easy affair. What you need is just a bit of common sense and a wide imagination and creativity. You can use almost anything that is big enough for the space that you intend to put the gate in. Then, put some finishing touches and attach the hinges and the latches and you will be done in no time.

Just remember that you need to have the kind of materials that can withstand your dog and weather elements that may be of concern. Make sure that you will be using tough objects such as wood or metal if you have a larger dog.

Dog behing a gate

The best thing about making your own dog gate is that you get to save on your budget while still creating something that is of good quality. Since you will be the one making it, you can ensure the integrity of the joints and the panels that you will use. You will also be able to paint and decorate the gate how you want it to look like.  What you only need to know are some basic woodworking and construction knowledge and an eye for detail to get the results that you want.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Jane Lewis

    Once the need for dog gates arose in our household, I believe we spent a few months looking for the perfect gate. That is, before the frustration of having gates that don’t exactly fit and gates that don’t blend in with the theme of our house culminated in just improvising a dog gate. Yep, we just had a few sheets of screen, this huge frame that’s lying around and voila! we had a dog gate! This article pretty much illustrated how we went about improvising our dog gate (minus the months of searching for the perfect dog gate, of course!).

    • John Walton

      Looks very nifty, Jane. We all have the freedom to customize our gates and I am happy that you are utilizing the resource that you have at home. Improvisation can do a lot of great things, and often a lot more fun and less expensive.

  • Alice Moore

    For those who can’t DIY to save their life, or are too busy to buy a dog gate, or want to save in looking for a dog gate; a baby gate is a good alternative. Just make sure the materials would be study, and that it fits in the hallway (or wherever it will be installed) and you’re all set!

    • John Walton

      This is a great suggestion, Alice. Especially when the dog is small to medium-sized breed, Baby gates are also safe and made from durable materials so I really think this is a good alternative.

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