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How to Install a Doggie Door in an Exterior Door

If you’re a pup parent, then you know that your furry friend is simply a part of the family. And, like all family members, you want your dog to grow up in an environment of safety and independence.

In an ideal world, you’d be spending all day with your best four-legged pal. But with the constant demands of work and home life, giving your pet the freedom they deserve can be a difficult balancing act.

For example, if you’re not home, but Fido needs to go outside to relieve himself, what do you do? Well, never fear, because that’s where a doggie door comes in handy!

In this post, I’ll take you through the ins and outs of how to install a dog door in an exterior door. So, if you’re ready to give your dog a little more independence (and yourself a little more peace of mind), then read on!

What Is a Doggie Door, and Why Might I Need One in My Home?

A doggie door is a small opening, usually located in a back door or screen door, that gives your pet the ability to come and go as they please.

If required, a dog door can also be installed in an exterior wall. However, this is a more complex task that’s best left to the professionals (unless you’re feeling extra handy, of course).

For dog parents who work long hours or have other obligations that take them away from home frequently, a pet door can provide some much-needed independence for both you and your furry friend.

Not only does it give your pup the chance to relieve themselves when you’re not around, but it also allows them to get some fresh air and exercise – even if you’re not able to take them on a walk at the time.

In short, if you’re looking for a way to give your pet some extra freedom, then a doggie door might be the perfect solution for you.

Flap doggie door by PetSafe

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Different Types of Doggie Door

There are different types of pet doors to choose from depending on your budget. Generally, a good quality dog door with standard features should cost you somewhere in the range of $20 to $200.

Electronic dog doors are also available and come equipped with features like timers, locks, and RFID technology. These doors are activated when your pet is within range and can be set to lock at certain times of the day. However, they tend to be on the pricier side, with some models costing upwards of $500.

Here’s a quick overview of the most common types of dog doors:

Flap Doors

The most popular type of dog door is the flap door, which is made up of a series of hinged flaps that your pet pushes through to enter and exit the house.

These are usually made from either plastic or vinyl, and they’re one of the most affordable options if you’re operating on a tight budget.

Metal-Framed Doggie Doors

If you’re looking for something a little more durable, then you might want to opt for a metal-framed doggie door.

These tend to be a little pricier than flap doors, but they offer increased security and weather resistance. This is especially important if you live in an area with extreme temperatures or high winds.

What’s the Best Location for a Doggie Door?

Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a location for your dog door:

  • Make sure that the door is at a comfortable height for your dog – they should be able to reach the flap easily.
  • Don’t forget to consider the climate when choosing a location too. If it’s often cold outside, you’ll want to choose a spot that’s sheltered from the wind.
  • Think about where your dog likes to spend a lot of time and try to pick a location near their favorite spot in the house.

Choosing the Right Size Dog Door

One of the most important considerations when it comes to picking a doggie door is choosing the right size for your pet.

If the door is too small, then your dog might have difficulty getting through it. And if it’s too big, then you run the risk of larger animals (and possibly even burglars) being able to gain entry to your home.

Before selecting a doggie door, make sure to take two measurements:

  • The width of your dog at their widest point (from shoulder to shoulder)
  • The height of your pet from the ground to the top of their shoulders

Once you have these measurements, add two to three inches to each one. This will give your dog enough room to comfortably get through the door without any problems.

How to Install a Doggie Door: A Step by Step Guide

So far, I’ve covered what a doggie door is, why you might need one, and what to consider when choosing the right door. So, now, it’s time to move on to the installation process itself.

Most manufacturers will include a pet door template and full instructions with your purchase, which will make installation a lot easier. If you’re not using a template, then make sure you measure twice (or even three times) to avoid any mistakes.

There are a few things you’ll need before you get started:

  • Safety gear (gloves, goggles, and a dust mask)
  • Drill
  • Jigsaw
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Sawhorses
  • Measuring tape
  • Set square (if there’s no template)
  • Pencil
  • Level
  • Painters tape
  • Caulk or foam weatherstripping
  • Sandpaper

Additional items for a metal door:

  • Tin snips
  • Metal file

Once you’re ready to get started, follow these seven simple steps:

Step 1: Remove the Door From Its Hinges

Before you can install your new dog door, you’ll need to remove the existing door from its hinges. This will make it a lot easier to work with and avoid any damage to the door itself. When the door is removed, lay it across two sawhorses to keep it steady.

Step 2: Measure and Mark the Opening

Once the door is removed, it’s time to measure and mark the opening for your new dog door. If you’re using a template, tape it carefully to the door so it’s ready to cut around. If you’re not using a template, then use a measuring tape, set square, and pencil to mark out the opening.

Step 3: Drill the Corners of the Opening

Using a drill, make pilot holes in each corner of the marked opening. These will be used to guide your jigsaw when you start cutting out the hole. A 3/8-inch drill bit is usually a good size for this job, but follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results. Make sure to use a drill bit for metal if you’re working with a metal door.

Step 4: Cut Out the Opening

Now, it’s time to cut out the opening. If you’re using a template, simply cut around it with a jigsaw. Otherwise, cut carefully along the lines you’ve marked out with a pencil. Take your time with this step to avoid any mistakes.

If you’re working with a metal door, you may need to use tin snips to make the initial cut. You can then use a jigsaw with a metal cutting blade to finish the job. Make sure to leave a small step of around three or four inches below the cutout to avoid damaging the structure of the door.

Step 5: Smooth the Edges of the Cutout

Once the hole is cut, use sandpaper to smooth any rough edges. This will help to prevent any injuries and make the door look more finished. If you’re working with a metal door, use a metal file to achieve the same aim.

Step 6: Insert and Screw in the Frames

Now, it’s time to insert the interior and exterior frames of your new pet door. They should fit snugly into the hole you’ve just cut out. Use a level to check that the frames are properly aligned before securing them in place with screws. If either frame is a little loose, then use caulk or weatherstripping to seal any gaps and prevent drafts.

Step 7: Rehang the Door

Finally, it’s time to rehang the door. Replace any screws or hinges that you removed during the installation process and make sure the door is properly aligned. Once the door is back in place, open and close it a few times to check that everything is working as it should be.

Sliding glass door doggie door by

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Installing a Pet Door Frame in Glass Sliding Doors

Wondering if you can install a doggie door in your sliding glass door? The answer is yes, and there are a couple of ways to do it.

The first (and easiest) solution is to insert a panel into the sliding door track, which has glass at the top and a doggie door at the bottom. The second solution is to cut a hole directly into the glass of the sliding door and install the doggie door that way.

Since there are so many different types of glass sliding doors, it’s best to consult a professional before taking on this project. They’ll be able to help you choose the best solution for your door and walk you through the installation process.

Training Your Dog – How to Teach Them to Use Their New Doggie Door

Once the doggie door is ready to use, it’s time to make sure your dog knows what it is and that it’s there for them. To teach them how to use it, try these quick tips:

  • Start by showing your dog the doggie door. Let them sniff around it and get used to the idea that it’s there.
  • Place a treat on the other side of the door, so they have to go through it to get it.
  • Once they’re comfortable going through the door for treats, try closing it so that only a small flap is open. They may be hesitant at first, but if you encourage them with treats they’ll soon get used to it.
  • Finally, close the door completely and make sure that your dog knows they can still come inside if they want. Try calling them to you or placing a treat on the other side of the door again.

Care and Maintenance of Your Doggie Door

When your doggie door is installed and in use, you should check it regularly for signs of wear and tear. These include cracks in the frame, gaps around the edges, and loose screws. If you notice any of these problems, make sure to fix them right away.

It’s also important to be careful when using a doggie door if you have small children in the house. Make sure that they understand that the doggie door is for dogs only and that they should never try to go through it themselves.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my pet parent guide on how to install a dog door. Remember, if you’d rather have the installation done for you, that’s fine too – DIY isn’t for everyone!

Keep in mind that a professional installation will likely add an extra few hundred dollars to your costs, so just make sure you shop around and get a good deal. Whatever you decide, have fun installing and making use of your new doggie door!