how to install a pet door

how to install a pet door
Tools Needed
1 Tape Measure
2 Pencil
3 Template
4 Screwdriver and Screws
5 Drill and the Bits
6 Jigsaw
7 Caulk
8 Your Pet
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Materials Needed
1 Hammer
2 Wire Cutter
3 Tape
4 Level
5 Scissors
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Total Cost
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Estimated Time
1-3 Hours
Skill Level: Advanced
The total cost and duration may vary when hiring a handyman!

Project Overview

pet door

Unless, you have a pet who can wait hours and hours to go outside to relieve themselves, you are going to run into some problems. Are you tired of having to run your pet outside hour after hour? Maybe you even have a pet that won’t go poop and pee at the same time so you must take them out even more. If you feel like a slave for your pet, it is time to learn how to install a pet door. Once you have the pet door installed, you are going to feel more like your pet is a member of the family instead of a constant reminder that you never get to sit down and just enjoy them.

Step-By-Step Instructions


Finding the Right Sized Pet Door

dog using a pet door

Before doing any of the door installation steps, it is important to measure your pet more than once. The hole in the door needs to be cut just right. If you only do the measuring once, you may not get it right as your pet may move or be crouched over.

Dogs, cats and other pets are a variety of sizes. It is important to make sure you pick the right size door for your friendly pet too. Most doors will come anywhere between 5 in. by 8 in. to 13 in. by 23 in. You should make sure the opening is 2 inches in width bigger than your pet on each side. The height of the door should be 2 inches in height bigger than their shoulder to the chest, right behind your pet’s front legs. Be sure you do the measuring for your largest pet.

Now that you have the measuring done, you can start working on the door installation. After you have measured your pet more than once, you need to find the right sized door for your cuddly little friend. If you aren’t quite sure, choose the bigger option. If the door is too small, your pet could get harmed. It is generally recommended to have the door installed with the distance between the floor and the top opening of the passageway, placed over your largest pet’s shoulders. This way your littlest pet won’t need to jump over anything to get out either. All the pets will be happy and so will you.


Review the Instructions

a page from an instruction manual

Study the Model Illustration Along with Instructions. Before installing anything in your home, it is best to study or look over the model illustration and the instructions. This allows you to learn about the various parts of the product and the pieces that will need to be used in the installation. If you want to know how to install a pet door, depending on which one you get, there may be many parts. Understanding the terms used for the installation and where the parts will go will speed along the installation time.

While generally it won’t be a problem, you should always check the packaging to make sure all pieces are in there before starting the installation. You would hate to get half way through or even almost done, only to realize you don’t have all the essential parts to finish the pet door installation. Read over the guide and check the pieces off one by one. If you have everything, you can move on to the next step. If not, you should return it and check the new one as well.


Get Ready for the Installation

pet doors

Choose Where the Pet Door Will Be Placed. If you have multiple doors in your home, you will need to decide where the pet door is going to be placed. If your pets only go out the back door, you have your decision made for you. When there are multiple doors where your pets are let out, you can get multiple doors or just teach them to go out the one door. When choosing the door where it will be installed, be sure there isn’t anything that will get in the way of the door swinging open and shut. If you don’t want to have as much of a mess to clean up when done, put down some clothes before you begin the installation. This will catch everything so you can roll it up and toss it out when finished.

Before you begin any cutting, you will need to mark the placement of the pet door. At that time, you will need your pencil and the level. In addition, you can use the tape to mark the door to be sure the placement is correct before you drill the hole. When marking the placement, be sure to note the size of the pet door so you make the hole big enough. Once you have the house door marked evenly, you can slowly start drilling the beginning holes. Make sure you don’t go out of the marked placement.


Executing The Installation

installing a pet door

If you are going to place the pet door into a wood door, you need two corners drilled out that are diagonal from one another. If you decide to use the 5/16 inch drill bit, make three drilled holes near each other and then drill through the middle to connect them. This is done to leave room to place the saw into the hole when cutting so the wood doesn’t split. When you have the holes made, get the saw out and cut the opening out on the lines you had previously marked. A circular, key, reciprocating or hand saw can be used. After you have cut the rough outline, go across the lines again to make sure everything was cut straight. Everything needs to be level on the door.

If you have a metal door on your house and you are using a reciprocating saw or drill, you can follow the same instructions mentioned above for the wood door. You will need a 14-tooth blade per inch with the saw. If you don’t have that type of saw, you will need to drill through on each of the corners. Then you will chisel at every corner to begin the holes. Make the rough outline with the saber power saw. Make sure the blade doesn’t put a dent on the opposite side of the door when cutting.


Final Touch Ups

pets using a pet door

After cutting the hole in the house door, it is time to get the pet door ready. You should take apart the two halves from the pet door’s frame. Take off the cover if one is attached on the interior frame. Before you put the pet door inside the opening you had made, screws may need loosened a bit. This may need done so no gaps are left at the end. Now, you are going to work on installing the inner frame of your pet door. This is the one that may have the track for the security cover. You will insert the pet door’s inner frame inside the opening on the house door. Then, slide your outside frame on the outer side of the door. The frame will then slide together when squeezing them tightly. Some of the pet doors that are purchased may come with a security cover. If yours doesn’t, you don’t need to complete this step. If you do have a security cover on the pet door, you should be able to slide it through the track on the pet door very simply. It can then be locked and unlocked into place with the pin bolt lock that is attached to the pet door.

Locate the holes that have been drilled out on the pet door. Then drill through a hole on the inner edge of the bottom outer frame. Put a screw in the hole and tighten it just a bit. Be sure the pet door is now level and if it isn’t fix it. When you have the pet door leveled, you can then fully tighten the screw. You will follow this step for all screws that need to be inserted on your pet door.Now that you have finished the installation for the pet door, it is time to fill in any gaps that have been left. You can use the caulk to seal all edge gaps if you wish. Don’t put caulk on the outer or inner frame. If you would like a cleaner edge after you have caulked, be sure to put the painter’s tape along the edges before applying the caulk. You can remove the painter’s tape when finished and there will be no messy edges left. It is highly recommended to caulk the outer and inner sides of your pet door for better insulation.


Teaching Your Pet

a person holding a dogs paw

Once you have finished caulking the pet door and made sure everything works well, you can clean up. Roll up the sides of the cloths you had laid down before starting the installation and toss them in the trash. Clean up any debris that was left over from the installation. Wipe down the frame and the door before allowing your pet to use it. Your installation is completed but there is still one final step.

Now that you have finished the installation, you should teach your pet how to use the door. Some pets are quicker to learn than others. For some pets, it is a big challenge to teach them. Many pet owners will just leave the door flap held open or off for the first couple of days so the pet can see what the pet door is all about. Your pet would be able to see it is a hole in which they can come in and out. They will also have an easier time going through it the first few days. If it is too hard for them at first, it becomes an even bigger challenge to teach them later.

If you stand outside when your pet is inside, you can call their name through the pet door hole. They may come through to find you. Be sure to praise your pet for the first few days to weeks after they have gotten in and out of the pet door. If you need or want to, you can always offer your pet some treats for going in and out of the door. It is just like teaching them any trick or command, they need to learn and treats are often the best way to get them to learn. If you still have a baby pet or younger pet, it might take them more time to learn. Just keep practicing with them and have patience. They will learn in their own time.


Now that you know what steps to take before, during and after a pet door installation, you have things covered. You know what measurements to take, how to install the door on different house door types and how to train your pet to use the door. Once you have them trained to use the door, you can finally start cuddling with them more since you won’t be so irritated that you are taking them in and out constantly. They can come and go as they please and you can finally relax knowing you and your pet are much happier.

How To Install A Pet Door

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