If you’ve spent hours picking out the perfect dog door for you and your pup, you might be dreading what comes next: installation. Between dog doors coming in a variety of sizes and having to choose a location to install your dog door, dog door installation can seem intimidating. Luckily, the following information breaks down dog door installation by location and outlines general installation steps so you have an idea of what to expect.
- 1 Considerations Before Installation
- 2 Installation Preparation
- 3 Installation by Type of Dog Door
- 4 How to install a dog door in a wood door?
- 5 How to install a dog door in a metal door?
- 6 How to install a dog door in a glass door?
- 7 How to install a dog door into a sliding glass door?
- 8 How to install a dog door into a screen door?
- 9 How to install a dog door in a stucco wall?
- 10 How to install a dog door in an exterior wall?
- 11 How to install a dog door in a brick wall?
- 12 How to install a dog door in a window?
- 13 How much does it cost to install a dog door?
- 14 Can dog door installation be DIY?
- 15 Pre-Installed Pet Doors
Considerations Before Installation
Before even installing your dog door, you need to consider the needs of you and your pet. For example, installing your dog door in a wall is not recommended for very large dogs. The larger the dog, the larger the hole you will need to cut, which will take more time and potentially money and increase the potential for energy loss.
Renters or condo owners often prefer a sliding-glass pet door to avoid having to change the infrastructure of their home. Depending on where you install the door, installation ease and cost will differ. If you choose a wall, you may need to reroute utilities such as plumbing or electricity, which can be an additional cost. Additionally, you will need different tools for cutting through different material. You also need to consider how high off the ground to install the dog door and selecting a dog door in a size specific to your pet or pets.
Before preparing the door, ensure you have the proper measurements for your dog door: once you start cutting, you can’t go back! Dogs typically duck their heads to open a door or flap, so adding an inch or two to your dog’s shoulder height should allow them plenty of space to come in and out. Add two to three inches to your dog’s width to estimate the required door width. The extra space will allow for potential weight gain and safe moving through the door. Depending on your dog’s breed and age, considering the final size of your dog and adjust the height and width measurements accordingly if you expect them to continue growing after installing the dog door.
Once you have your height and width measurements, use a pencil to outline the door. Most pet doors come with a template for placement, so if you have a template, cut it out, tape the template in place, and trace the template with your pencil. If you don’t have a template, you can also use the plastic slide as a guide.
The installation height, the distance off the ground that the door is installed, is called the step over height. The step over shouldn’t be more than 1/3 of your dog’s total height and should be at least 3 inches from the bottom of the door to keep its integrity intact. You’ll want to outline your door in pencil at an appropriate height off the ground, so your dog will comfortably be able to step over the door frame. Consider a lower step over if your pet has health issues, is older or less agile, or has a particularly low-slung chest.
Installation by Type of Dog Door
The actual steps, cost of installation, and tools required are unique to the type of dog door you purchase and where you plan on installing it. There are a variety of locations to install your dog door, and whether you choose to install it in a wall or a door will influence the ease and cost of installation. Different types of doors will require different tools. If you are not handy with hardware and tools, consider hiring professional help to ensure proper installation of your dog door. Regardless of where you install your dog door, make sure to wear proper eye protection and gloves.
How to install a dog door in a wood door?
The best type of saw to install a dog door in a wood door with is a reciprocating saw and a blade for cutting through wood.
First take your door off its hinge to make installation as easy as possible. Using a hammer and screwdriver, tap the hinge pins out of your door and remove the door, then lay it down flat with the interior side facing up.
Drill a hole in each of the four corners of the pet door outline. Make sure to drill holes of an appropriate size. Insert the blade of your saw into one of the corner holes and carefully cut along your pencil outline. After cutting along the traced outline, remove the piece you cut out and sand or file rough edges along the rim. You’ll want to use a reciprocating saw and a blade for cutting through wood.
Place the inner frame of the pet door into the opening and make any necessary adjustments before checking the exterior frame. Once the inner frame fits well, mark any holes for mounting required hardware. Remove the inner frame and drill holes perpendicular to the door so the hardware lines up with both sides of the frame.
After the fastener holes have been drilled, insert the inner frame and attach the outer frame of the dog door on the other side of the door. Push them together until they meet snugly. If your door doesn’t quite fit into the hole, expand the hole with your saw just by a little. You may need to
trim the core frames with pliers or shears for a snug fit, depending on the thickness of your door.
Once both frames fit tightly together into the hole, use fasteners to hold them together and screw the sides together. You’ll want to adjust the frames as needed and trim off any excess fastener length. Use caulk to seal the newly installed door.
How to install a dog door in a metal door?
Installation of dog doors into a metal door may require a combination of saws. Start with a circular saw that has a diamond blade and follow with a reciprocating saw to neatly square up the corners. You may also use a jigsaw blade made specifically for cutting metal. If you have a steel door, you’ll want to use a drill bit for metal.
You’ll first need to take the metal door off its hinges by uncapping the cover on the pins and removing the pins out of each hinge. Removing the door pins may require a hammer and a small screwdriver. After removing all the pins, open the door carefully, lift it off its hinges, and lay it flat on the floor.
Now use your dog’s measurements or the template provided with your pet door to trace out the dog door outline on the metal door. To draw even edges, consider using set squares. Consider using painter’s tape to line your outline and the bottom of your jigsaw to prevent the drill scratching your door. Next drill holes into the four corners of your outline that are large enough to fit the blade of your heavy-duty saw of choice. Insert your saw in one of the holes and carefully cut out the outline. To remove the metal that you’ve cut out, tap a hammer in the middle several times to push out the metal. If the edges of the hole are sharp with burrs, smooth out the edges with a file or a deburring tool. This will protect you and your dog from any sharp edges and will make installation easier.
If you have a self-framed door, simply attach both sides of the door inside the holes and fasten it to your metal door with screws. You’ll want to ensure a tight fit so that the dog door doesn’t fall out once you reattach your metal door to its hinges. Once you’ve rehinged your metal door, have your dog try out your installation.
How to install a dog door in a glass door?
Non-sliding glass doors are the hardest to install a dog door in, and you may need to order a custom dog door depending on the size of your glass panes. You will need to check if your door is made of single- or double-pane glass since you can’t cut into double-pane glass like you can with single-pane class. You also can’t cut through tempered glass since that will shatter.
If your door is made of glass that can be cut, you will need to check what type of glass door you have: one piece of glass with grid-work or multiple panes of glass that are individually framed. The second option is easier to install a dog door in as you can simply remove however many glass pieces required for your dog door to fit. Installing a dog door directly through glass will require hiring a professional glazier.
For pet owners with glass doors that are a single pane of glass, consider replacing your door with a pre-installed dog door at the bottom. If you would rather pay for custom work, you can get the existing door removed and the dog door installed in it. This option is not a DIY task, so hire a local glazier who can cut the glass pane for installing the dog door after you have double checked measurements taken of your dog. You should ensure you pick a dog door of a comparable thickness to that of your glass door. The professional glazier will return your glass door with the installed dog door and reinstall the entire ensemble.
Installing a dog door into a glass door with multiple panes of glass will cost less than for a single pane glass door if you hire a professional glazier. Once you have determined the height you will install the dog door at, choose a glass plane you would want to replace with the door mount. It is easiest to hire a local glazier to remove the glass pane, but if you wish to do it yourself, you need to score the glass first and then use either reciprocating saw or a circular saw that has a diamond blade to carefully cut the glass. You can also use a suction handle that is rated to at least twice the weight of the glass pane to help remove it from the frame. Make sure to wear a mask during this step to prevent inhalation of any fiberglass or dust.
Installation will vary according to the manufacturer’s instructions, but in most cases, you will just need to push the dog door into the correct position and make sure the door is properly secured. If you want to ensure a perfect fit, you can order a custom-ordered dog door based on the hole opening you have cut, since depending on the size of the glass panes, your hole may not match any standard dog door size.
How to install a dog door into a sliding glass door?
Dog doors meant to be installed in sliding glass patio doors are very easily installed. With no cutting required, this is a great option for renters, condo-owners, or anyone who wants to keep the integrity of their house intact. Moreover, this option can be removed later.
These dog doors easily fit right into the track of your sliding glass door and only need to be secured to the side of your door frame. Most of the pet door panels meant for installation in a sliding glass door uses a pressure system at the top to expand to the height of your track and then lock the panel in place. Depending on the model you purchase, you may need to drill a hole through the track to fully secure the dog door in place.
Sliding glass pet doors are often installed against the sliding door jamb. This ensures that the sliding glass door opens and closes flush against the pet door and that the pet door remains stationary. However, note that the thickness of the pet door will not be the exact thickness of your track. There is no standard track width for sliding glass doors so sliding glass pet doors are built on the thinner side to be compatible with any sliding door track. If installed properly, this will not be noticeable.
If you choose this option, make sure to check that you will still have enough room to walk through your patio door. These pet doors specify an “Overall Panel Width” in their respective size charts that tell you how wide each door panel is. You can subtract this panel width from the total width of your sliding glass door’s opening to be sure you are still able to walk through. Look for a sliding glass pet door with a higher aspect ratio for the flap if you find that the dog door takes up more space than you’d like, i.e. a 12” x 23” flap could work better than a 14” x 23”.
You may need to add weather stripping or wood shims into the door jamb you install your dog door in. This may be required if the knobs hit the track wall and the pet door isn’t straight. By adding weather stripping and shimming out the panel, you push the panel out enough at the bottom to straighten it out.
Note that if you purchase a model that is meant to be semi-permanent, you may need to install the lock on the pet door that mates to a bracket on the sliding glass door and secure the door to the track. Temporary sliding glass doors will not have this lock as they are meant to be easily taken out. For the dog door lock to work properly, the door panel must be fastened in place with screws or nails. You may also consider installing your dog door (either semi-permanent or temporary) into the stationary half of the sliding glass door, making sure the door panel is securely fastened.
How to install a dog door into a screen door?
Installing a dog door into a screen door allows your pet to go in and out of your house as they please when the sliding glass door or standard house door is open, but the screen door is closed. This option is great for keeping out bugs while not interfering with your door’s locking mechanism. If you are considering installing a dog door into a screen door, you should consider the type of screen you have. A screen door with an aluminum screen is the best type of screen door for pairing with a dog door because a lightweight nylon screen may not be able to hold up the weight of a dog door. There are even some instant hanging options. Installing a dog door into a screen door will require picking a location of the screen door that works best for you. You can either install the dog door, so it has material on all sides or install the dog door in one of the bottom corners of the screen door.
To install the dog door in the middle of the screen door, you’ll want to take your screen door out from the track and lay it flat on the floor. Mark the screen door with a pen using the measurements you took of your dog. Once you have traced the outline for the dog door, use a sharp blade to cut out the screen mesh. After you’ve made an opening, place the inner frame over the exterior frame of your dog door. Align the two frames and ensure a tight fit. Depending on the type of frame of your dog door, you may just need to snap the ends of the frame together or screw them in. You can now replace your screen door onto the tracks.
If you wish to install your dog door in the bottom corner of your screen door, installation will be a bit more difficult as drilling may be required. Take your screen door out from the track and lay it flat on the floor. Mark the screen door with a pen using the measurements you took of your dog. Before cutting out the outline, loosen the screen mesh from one end with a screwdriver and take it out completely. Once the screen mesh is disconnected from the frame of your screen door, you can cut the mesh along the dog door outline. After you’ve cut out the hole, place the two frames of your dog door together on either side of the screen. Use a screwdriver to fit them together once the frames are aligned. You may need to drill at the sides of your dog door to firmly secure it to the screen door as it may need to be attached to the screen door frame. Cut off any extra screen mesh around the dog door once you’ve screwed the two frames together. You can now replace your screen door onto the tracks.
How to install a dog door in a stucco wall?
If you plan on installing your dog door into a stucco wall, you will need a drywall saw with a diamond blade or a key-hole saw, a putty knife, and drywall screws. You will also need a stud finder, tin snips to trim the flashing, as well as caulking and a caulk gun. Make sure you pick a wall where utilities such as electrical wiring or plumbing aren’t running through the wall. If you are set on a location with pipes and wiring, you’ll need to reroute your utilities. You should also locate the studs in your wall for a stud finder. Additionally, placing a dog door in a wall beneath a window will require more installation work as there is usually more lumber to cut through. You also may need to install a header before installing the door, since the lip from window trim could interfere with the slide-in panels you would use to temporarily close the pet door.
Before you cut anything out, you’ll need to remove the drywall from the interior of your house. Trace the outline of your dog door using either the measurements you’ve taken or the included template. Drill a hole in one corner of the outline and use your saw to cut out the drywall on the interior wall only. Remove both the drywall you’ve traced an any insulation between the interior and exterior side of the stucco wall. This will provide you access to the exterior stucco wall, so you can drill holes directly through it.
Once you’ve removed the drywall and any insulation, drill holes in 4 corners of the cut out. Make sure to drill completely through the wall so that the holes can be seen from the outside of your house. To finish cutting out the dog door outline, you’ll need to go outside and saw through the stucco wall. Consider connecting the 4 drilled holes with painting tape to help you cut the stucco in a straight line. Insert your putty knife or saw into one of the 4 holes and cut straight lines to each adjacent hole. Make sure to smooth out the edges of the cuts afterward.
Go back indoors and push the dog door through the hole as far as you can so that the inner frame lines up with your interior wall. Go back outside and check if the tunneling frame of the dog door sticks out at all. Stucco walls aren’t as thick as brick or either types of walls dog doors can be installed in, so you likely will not need the full length of the tunnel. Make a mark on the tunnel where it lines up with the exterior stucco and trim off any excess with a jigsaw. Ensure that the inner and outer frames are flush with both sides of your stucco wall before securing the dog door.
After trimming off any tunnel excess, you’ll need to fasten the inner and outer frames of your dog door. Depending on the manufacturer’s instructions, the frames will either snap together or require drilling to be attached. Make sure to seal off any gaps between the inner and outer frames of your dog door and the remaining stucco to prevent your wall from crumbling. This will also create an air tight seal to prevent moisture getting in.
How to install a dog door in an exterior wall?
Once you have picked a satisfactory location, locate the wall studs with your stud finder and draw a vertical line between them that is approximately 10-12 inches off the ground. Mark your dog’s height that you’ve measured on this vertical line and draw a horizontal line at that height. If you have a template for your dog door, align it with the marked lines you’ve made with and trace its outline. Using a jigsaw, start from one corner and cut out the sides of the outline.
Once you’ve cut out the dog door online, place the frame of the dog door in the cut out and check that the cut out is properly sized. After ensuring the cut out is of an appropriate size and making any necessary adjustments, position the tunneling frame into the cut out and use drywall screws to hold the center locator. Once you’ve marked holes on the center locator, remove the door from the cut out so you can drill holes for the toggle bolts. Position the inner and outer frames together with the flap.
When installing a dog door into a wall, make sure to not overtighten the bolts or you can strip them, which will cause them to loosen. You’ll also need to seal off the wall from the inside of your house to prevent moisture from penetrating the wall.
How to install a dog door in a brick wall?
Installing a dog door in a brick wall requires a wrecking bar, a reciprocating saw, and a power drill. Similar to installing your dog door in a stucco wall, you’ll need to first check for electrical and plumbing pipes and studs.
Once ensuring the location is clear of such utilities, trace out an outline of your dog door using measurements or an included template. Using a hammer drill, drill holes in the 4 corners of your outline on your interior drywall., With your saw, cut out the outline starting from one hole. You’ll then to remove any insulation between studs in your wall so you have access to the inner side of the brick wall.
Make sure to clean the interior side of the brick wall with a cloth since you will want a clean surface to make drilling through the brick wall easy. Either draw out the outline of your pet door again or make marks at the 4 corners for drilling.
Drill a hole at each of the 4 corners and insert your reciprocating saw blade in one of the corners. You’ll need to snip down the brick with either a demo or reciprocating saw following the line connecting the hole to the bottom corner hole directly beneath it. You can also use a hammer and a chisel along the outline to loosen the brick. Split the lines of mortar holding the brick together along each of the lines connecting the drilled holes.
To remove the brick, use a wrecking bar. You’ll want to hook the flat side of the wrecking bar on the edge of the outline you just created with the saw. Pull the wrecking bar out to remove the brick along the entire outline. You can also use a hammer to break the brick into pieces for removal.
Once you have a hole in your brick wall, insert the inner frame of the dog door and seal off any gaps between the frame and the brick using caulk. Push the tunnel through to the outside and check to see if there is any tunnel excess. If so, mark off how much needs to be removed so that the tunnel barely reaches the brick wall, since it will need to connect to the outer frame of your dog door. Use tin snips to trim off any excess and attach the dog door’s exterior frame to the tunnel. Depending on the manufacturer’s instructions, you will likely need to secure the frame and the tunnel with screws. Make sure to line the outer frame with caulk as well to provide an airtight seal.
How to install a dog door in a window?
If you don’t have a great wall or door location to install your pet door, consider installing a window pet door. Pet doors can simply be inserted in a sliding window (whether it is sideways sliding or up-and-down) since they are tension mounted and don’t require any drilling. However, you can screw them in if you wish to make the dog door semi-permanent. Installation of window pet doors are easy and generally tool-free. It is important to measure your window and the thickness of your window track to ensure that you purchase a window dog door that will fit.
If you have a screen on your window, you’ll first need to remove that to allow your dog to use the window pet door. Then, loosen the thumbscrews in the window on the inside of the house. Remove the outer window unit that slides. Regardless of whether your window slides up or down, the outer window unit will always be the unit you move to open your window. Set your dog door in this outer window track.
Depending on the size of your window pet door, you may not need to even remove the window unit. For shorter window pet doors, you can simply raise your lower window upwards to leave room for the pet door to be installed, set the dog door down into the window track, and lower your window unit back down so that it meets the top of your pet door.
Most window dog doors use a pressure system to hold the door in place, so once you place the dog door into the track, let the spring expand. Check that the dog door is locked into place by letting go of the dog door and seeing if it remains standing. You may need to drill into your window track to fully secure your dog door, depending on the manufacturer’s directions, but the springs that expand to the width of the track are usually enough to secure the dog door.
Once the dog door is secured, tighten any thumbscrews you loosened on the inside of the window. Make sure your dog door sits evenly in the window track or the set up will not have a proper seal. If it doesn’t, you can straight out the dog door using shims or adding a weather-strip. Some models can with a locking cover that you can use to temporarily close off the dog door. Since this locking cover slides in from the top of your window, you need to ensure there is no lip sticking out on the frame, or the slide in panel will not work properly.
How much does it cost to install a dog door?
Now that you’ve read about the different ways to install your dog door depending on its location, you may be wondering how much installation will cost. Professional installation of a dog door can range between $200-1600. Installing a dog door in a house door usually ranges from $200-350 while wall installations can range from $400-1600 depending on material. Installation price also factors in other conditions of your chosen dog door location. A location with electrical outlets, air ducts, wiring, and plumbing will create extra work and increase the installation price as the contractor will have to reframe or reroute your utilities before they are able to install your dog door. If you know there are electrical wires or plumbing pipes in the area you are trying to install your dog door, you should consider hiring professional help. Rerouting utilities is not a DIY task, and if you choose not to reroute your utilities, you may accidentally break something while installing your dog door, which could result in additional costs for repairs. You should also consider investing in professional installation of your dog door if you are not particularly handy. Any additional repairs to the door if it wasn’t initially installed properly will add up as contractors charge for materials, effort, and time, and in some cases, they may need to completely reinstall your dog door. Moreover, if you are planning on installing the dog door yourself but don’t own all the tools, purchasing or renting the required tools will cost extra.
Can dog door installation be DIY?
Depending on the type of dog door and where you wish to install it, you may be able to save on installation costs by installing it yourself. The easiest dog doors to install are sliding patio dog doors that can simply be placed into the tracks of your sliding doors. If you’re handy with tools such as power drills and hand saws, you can most likely install your pet door by yourself in 2-4 hours. Here are some things you should consider if you wish to install your door by yourself.
Make sure to locate where any wires, pipes, or studs are. It is certainly easier to hire a contractor or handyman to find these, especially if you’re not particularly handy, but there are plenty of tools to help you if you wish to help these in your walls yourself. Use a wire or stud finder to locate these before drilling any holes into your wall. Once you’ve located the wall studs, you need to verify that the width of your pet door is less than the distance between two studs. This will ensure that your pet door fits between the studs before you cut out a piece of your wall.
Pre-Installed Pet Doors
If you’re not particularly handy, consider making the investment of a pre-installed pet door! While this option costs more than professional installation of a dog door into your location of choice, pre-installed pet doors are great for owners who need a new door along with the pet door. These pre-installed pet doors are different than regular exterior doors with built-in dog doors and are usually offered as a storm door or a sliding glass door. A pre-installed storm door is a particularly convenient investment as it attaches to the outside of your existing door. If something goes wrong or you no longer need a pet door, you can always remove the storm door and still have a door. A storm door offers additional security when you are away from home since it is on the outside of your existing door. It also protects your original door from any cuts or installation mishaps, which in the long run could cost you a lot of money to repair and maintain.
The sliding pre-installed pet doors are usually customizable for a seamless fit with your sliding glass door. Since sliding glass doors are not always in standard sizes, pet owners often struggle trying to find a sliding glass pet door that fits their door frame. A customizable sliding pre-installed pet door ensures a perfect fit! Another major benefit of a sliding glass pre-installed pet door is it actually provides security. Most pet owners note that installing a pet door in their sliding glass patio door renders the locking mechanism useless. In order to secure a sliding glass pet door to the frame, the pet door must be installed at the edge and therefore is installed in between the lock and the sliding door. A pre-installed sliding glass door with the pet door built-in mates with your existing sliding door lock for maximum and effective security that is well worth the investment.
Now that you’ve installed your dog door, have your pet (or each of your pets if you are a multiple pet owner) test out the door. If your dog door holds up with multiple test runs of your pet going through it, it’s time to start teaching your pet how to use it. Some owners find leaving the flap off for a day or two is the best way to start training your pet since they can easily move through the hole while getting adjusted. Sit back and enjoy the freedom of your new dog door!