Having a dog door is a great convenience. Your dog can let himself in and out of the house when needed. They also present an energy savings. Because you don’t have to open the entire door to let your best friend go outside, you will save on heating and cooling costs throughout the year. Installation of the dog door is not difficult. Here is everything you need to know on how to install a dog door in an existing door.

Sizing the Pet Door

It’s been said that there are big dog people, and there are people who prefer little dogs. You know which category you fall into. Buy the proper size door for your dog. Measure your dog from just below his rib cage to just above his shoulders so you can be sure to buy the proper size door. Just as you wouldn’t buy a small door for a German shepherd, you don’t want to buy an extra-large door if your breed of choice is dachshunds. Whichever door you decide on, take the time to read the information and be sure that it is appropriate for the largest dog that will be using it.

Deciding on the Height of the Door

The dog door is not placed level with the floor, it is placed so that the bottom edge is level with the bottom of your dog’s chest. For this measurement, base it on the smallest animal that will be using the door. Larger dogs probably won’t mind bending down some, but you don’t want a smaller dog being forced to jump through the dog door.

You will find that the ground level outside is usually lower than the floor level inside. Determine the difference between the two areas, and then split it. For example, if your dog’s chest sits 10 inches above the ground, then you want the lower edge of the dog door to be 10 inches above the floor. But what if the step down to go outside is a 4 inch step? This means that when your dog wants to come back in, the door will be 4 inches above his legs. Divide the 4 inch step by 2, and lower the door placement on the inside by that amount. So the door will be placed at 8 inches above the floor inside the house, corresponding to 12 inches above the floor outside. Mark this spot on your wall or door using a level to ensure a straight line.

Installing a Dog Door

1. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for your dog door! This will help you avoid any surprises or mistakes in installation.

2. Gather all supplies recommended by manufacturer, including any caulk or hand tools.

3. Remove the door from the hinges and lay it on sawhorses.

4. Locate the center of the door. Use masking tape to mark a cross in the center. This will allow you to keep the pet door centered, without putting extra marks on your door. To locate the center, measure across the door and divide by 2. Lay the tape down over the center then draw a line on the tape at the exact center point. Repeat for height.

5. The door you purchased will have specific instructions for cutting the necessary holes. If the security panel will sit inside the door itself, then this can be used as a template for your cut. Take your time to center the door before marking your cut lines. Take measurements from the corners of the dog door to the edges to be sure that the door will be properly centered.

6. Pilot holes can be drilled in each corner to simplify cutting the rectangle for the door. Once the pilot holes are drilled, use a jigsaw to cut along the lines.

7. After your hole is cut, the masking tape can be removed and discarded. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install the door.

8. Use exterior caulk on the inside and outside of the door to help seal the dog door frame in place and prevent leaks.

9. Allow the caulk to dry thoroughly and then you are ready to re-mount the door.

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