How to Install a Pet Door

A pet door can be a tremendous asset when you’re away from home for long periods and Big Red needs to conduct business. It’s also convenient when you’re trying to get in a weekend snooze on the couch and your best friend can’t make up his mind whether he wants to be inside or out.

So you need a pet door? But you would rather not spend any more money than you have to? You can save a bit of dough by installing one yourself.

You first need to determine where the pet door should be placed. Measure the distance between the floor and your dog’s chest. The bottom of the doggy door should be the same distance from the floor. If the door is too high, Big Red will be trying to jump in and out; if it’s too low, the poor dog will be scraping his back. In the event the inside floor and the outside floor are different heights you will obviously need to compromise. If you have different sized dogs, you will obviously need a compromise here too.

Some people leave the door intact while they work, but it’s much easier to maneuver if you remove the door from its hinges and lay it across two sawhorses. With the height determined, measure the width of your door and mark the middle. To avoid pencil lines on the door, place strips of masking tape on which to mark. Using a ruler and carpenter’s square, mark your cuts according to the measurements of the pet door. Usually the security panel that comes with the kit can be used as a template.

At this point you may want to put on safety goggles. You will use a jigsaw to make your cuts but first drill a hole with a large size bit in each corner of the figure to help you make smoother cuts with the jigsaw. If your door is covered with thin sheets of steel, try using strong tin snips. When you’re finished cutting, remove the cutout piece, discard the marker tape and line the edge of the door with an exterior caulk. This sealant is very important because any leaks will cause the door to rot. Press the outside frame into the outside of the door and the inside frame into the inside of the door. Make sure these are not reversed while making note that the hinges are at the top. Screw the two frames together and wipe away any excess caulk. If screws protrude, cut off the ends with a nail cutter and file the edges. Rehang the door and your job is finished. .

For those concerned about a hole in the door tempting burglars, just place your pet door in the wall, cut a doorway into the back of a doghouse and back it up against the pet door in the wall. With this creative alternative, the dog enters and exits through the doghouse and no one is the wiser.

Now Big Red can conduct business as usual even when you’re late getting home, and on weekends, you can curl up on the couch for an uninterrupted nap.

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