Tools & Tips: Installing a Dog Door

From on September 09, 2008 in Tools and Tips

dog door I’ve written before about remodeling with your pets in mind. Now it’s time to tackle the easiest and most popular way to do just that: the dog door. There is little negatively to say about dog doors (so long as your dog will use it). They prevent midnight trips to the backyard and allow you and your dog more overall freedom. Although, if your dog is a runner, you may want to build the dog run first.

There are two types of dog doors: those made to fit into a door and those made for a wall. The wall type is often necessary for large dogs because it is sturdier and doesn’t require cutting half your door out. The smaller, door-mount doors are easier to install and work great for small dogs and cats. Here are some tips on both:

Installing a dog door in a man door.

These are simple to do. First, make sure you have the properly sized door. If you want, cut a template out of cardboard and make sure your dog can comfortably walk through it. Once you have the door, trace the proper dimensions (you can use that cardboard template) onto the door and cut the hole. From there, simply install the door using screws that should have been provided, and you’re done.

Installing a dog door in a wall.

This one is essentially the same as installing a door in another door. There is just more work to do. First, make sure you have the proper door for your dog by using the template idea above or by taking the dog to the pet store to ensure the doors there will work. Most dog doors should fit into a typical stud bay (14 1/2”) so you will need to find the studs in the wall where you’d like to put the door.

When you have the location figured out, you can trace the door dimensions onto the wall and cut the hole. Make sure you have an exterior wall and that you will not cut through any electrical wires. Note that you may want to remove exterior siding around the hole-to-be. After the door is installed you can cut and reinstall the siding for a nice, waterproof fit.

Now you have your hole, from stud to stud. Recheck your measurements for width and height to make sure you have it. You will need to frame in the hole, at least at top and bottom, so the door can rest in there. Make sure the frame is square to ensure an easy fit. Now, just to test your squareness, dry-fit the door to make sure everything is copacetic, then secure it to the frame. You will want to caulk around the edges to give yourself a nice, weatherproof seal.

Now you have your dog door!