How to Install A Doggie Door: Instructions And DIY Ideas

How to Install A Doggie Door
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Having a dog is great, but one of the frustrating things about it can be having to constantly jump out of your chair to go let your pooch outside! Dogs seem to have this built in sense that lets them know when you have just settled into your chair with a cup of coffee to enjoy a 10 minute break and that is exactly when they will come to you demanding to be let outside.

Most of the time, they won’t even need to go potty, but just want to go outside to play or run around! We all love our dogs, but this can be highly annoying which is why we should all learn how to install a doggie door so that the dog can come and go as it pleases, even when you are busy doing other things.

What is a doggy door?

A doggy door or pet flap as it is often known is basically a small opening in a door or wall which allows your dog to come and go from the house whenever they need to without you having to go and open the door for them. They often feature a durable plastic flap that the dog can push open with their nose in order to use the door so that there is not an open hole in your door. Often there is also some kind of lockable panel so that you can restrict access to the doggy door at specific times, such as during the night.

Doggie door

A pet flap is a great way to give your dog independent access to the back yard so that he or she is able to go potty whenever they need to and also so they can go outside for some fresh air and exercise. If your yard is properly secured, you could even allow your dog to use the pet flap when you are out at work so that they are not left locked up in the house for long periods of time.

How to install a doggie door

Actually installing a doggy door in your home is something that you can undertake on your own, you do not really need to hire in a professional to complete the task. However, you will have to plan out the job carefully.

Wall mount doggie door

The following steps will help you to learn how to install a doggy door for your canine companion.

  1. The first step is deciding where you want to position the door. For most people, this is a fairly simple decision – it goes on the door which opens into your yard! This is most often the back door although you may decide to place it on your garage door instead.
  2. Head to your local pet store or hardware store to purchase a pet flap making sure that it is going to be large enough for your pet to fit through. Most brands of pet flap have a guideline showing which breeds that particular size is suitable for!
  3. Your pet flap should have been provided with a template to help with the installation process. You will need to tape this template onto the door and trace around the outline with a pencil taking care to mark the places where you will need to drill holes or attach the hinges. When you are positioning the template make sure that it is low enough to the ground for your pet to reach it. You should also keep security in mind and make sure that it is not positioned in such a way that there is no way for someone to reach inside and unlatch the door or a window.
  4. Once you have marked out the template on the door it is time to cut it out. This is particularly easy on a wooden door as all you have to do is drill a starter hole and then use a jigsaw or hacksaw to cut out the hole according to the outline. If you have a UPVC door then it could be a little bit trickier, but still possible. The process is the same, you will simple need a more robust blade to cut through the material.
  5. After the hole has been cut you are going to slip the inner frame in place and secure it with the screws or bolts provided with the kit. It is useful to have an extra pair of hands at this stage to hold the door in place while you secure it. Once you have installed the frame you can go ahead and attach the door flap making sure that it can swing freely and that it stays in the closed position when it is not in use.

Once you have finished installing the doggy door all that is left to do is teach your dog how to use it. You can do this by enticing him to come through the flap by placing a tasty treat on the other side of the door. He will soon get the hang of it and will really enjoy his new found freedom.

How to create a homemade dog door

If you are particularly handy with your power tools then you may be considering a homemade dog door instead. If you have the necessary skills and tools at your disposal then there is no reason why you should not attempt it! It will take some planning and preparation!

Dog door measure chart

The first thing that you are going to have to do is figure out how big your doggy door needs to be. You want it to be just big enough for your dog. A great idea is to look at the sizes of commercial doggy doors suitable for your breed and then copy the measurements! A fairly typical size for a pet door is about 13.5 inches by 16 inches, with special large breed doors coming in at about 16 inches by 18 inches. Once you have done this, you can mark out an opening on your doors and cut it using the same method as described above.

To create the flap part of the homemade dog door, one of the best things to do is to re-purpose a couple of rubber car mats. All you need to do is cut them into a rectangle that is slightly narrower than the opening you have cut in the door. Next, you will want to glue them together at the edges to make one piece that is twice the thickness. To finish the flap off add a magnetic strip to the bottom edge. A matching piece of magnetic strip should be attached onto the bottom of the opening on the exterior of the door. This is going to stop the flap blowing around in the wind!

Measuring for doggie door

When you come to attach the flap you will want to align the magnetic edge on it with the strip on the door. You can then use a staple gun or screws to attach the flap at the top. Once you have the flap attached all that is left to do is add some molding around the edges of the opening to make it look neat.

You will want to put the molding around all 4 sides on the inside and around the sides and top on the outside of the door. Since the mats are flexible your dog will be able to push the rubber flap fairly easily. If you are concerned that it will be too heavy then you could use a single mat or switch it out for some thick polythene instead.

Common concerns about doggy doors

Installing a doggy door is a great thing for your pet dog, but many pet owners have some concerns about them as well.

Electronic doggie door

Let’s take a look at some of the most common concerns that dog owners are voicing when it comes to pet flaps.

  • What if my dog cannot use the pet flap?
    Many dog owners are worried about whether or not their dog is going to know how to use a pet flap. They are concerned that they’ll go through the expense of buying and installing it only for the dog to refuse to use it.
    The majority of dogs will pick up using a pet flap to get in and out, but you are going to need to spend some time training them to use it. You can do this by ‘posting’ a toy or a treat through the flap and encouraging the dog to follow it. If you are particularly worried that your dog won’t pick this up or that she will be scared of the flap then it would be useful to ask a friend who has a pet flap if you can test it out with your dog!
  • Isn’t a doggy door a security risk?
    We noted above that you do need to be careful to position the door so that it is not possible to reach inside and unlock a door or a window. In addition, the door should be just big enough for your dog so that it is difficult for a person to fit through. Even so, there have been a handful of report about thieves using small people or even kids to sneak in and open a door allowing them to rob the house, but this is not at all common.
    Most people feel like the dog itself is enough of a deterrent. On the other side of the security issue is the fact that a small toddler could potentially crawl out of the dog door when you are not looking, so if you have little ones you would need to make sure that you keep them away from the doggy door at all times!
  • Could my dog get stuck in the dog door?
    Another common concern that people have when researching how to install a doggy door is that they are worried about their dog getting stuck in it. This should not happen as long as you have a door large enough for your dog. If your dog ever gains enough weight to make sticking a concern then it is something you should be addressing as it would be unhealthy for the pet. The only exception would be if your dog is pregnant in which case the doggie door should be kept closed until she has given birth.
  • Won’t there be a draft getting into my home from the doggy flap?
    Most dog doors are supplied with draft proofing and the flap part does block out most drafts anyway. It’s not going to be a huge problem unless you live in a particularly cold area.
  • Isn’t a doggy door going to encourage other animals to come in my house?

There is a small possibility that other animals could use your pet flap to access your home, but it isn’t all that likely. Cats are not going to come inside when they smell your dog’s scent and other dogs are likely to be put off as well!

The one situation where it could become a problem is if you have a bitch in heat as dogs from the area will catch her scent and come looking for her. It is probably a good idea to keep the pet door closed while she is in heat to stop this from happening. Most dog owners prefer not to let their bitch outside alone during this time anyway so it probably won’t be much of a problem.

Too small doggie door

In conclusion, installing a dog door for your pet can give it the freedom to get in and out of the house at will which means that you do not have to worry about him when you are out during the day. He also won’t have to disturb you even if you are at home! It is easy to install a doggie door, but you do need to consider some of the concerns noted above before deciding that this is the right thing for you and your dog. And if you want to prevent your dog from running away once he goes outside, why not consider attaching your own dog run so that he had the space to get around outside?

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.