How to Install a Doggie Door

In your house, your pooch is king (or queen), but you can’t be there all of the time to know when he needs to go outside right now.  A doggie door is the perfect solution for you and your beloved four-legged friend, with the end result keeping you in bed a few minutes longer and him not leaving a mess in the kitchen.  It’s an all-around win-win for everyone.

Jack Russel Terrier puppy sitting behind a doggie door

Measure Your Dog

It sounds silly, but this is your first step in properly installing a doggie door.  Dog doors come in a wide variety of sizes, just like dogs themselves, ranging from 5×8 inches to 13×23 inches.  The opening width should be 2 inches wider than the widest part of your pet.

The opening height should be 2 inches taller than your pet’s top of its shoulders to its chest, just behind the front legs.  You’ll need these extra 2 inches for the height and width, so your dog doesn’t have to squeeze in and out.

A Little Prep Work

Once you have the correct measurements, order your pet door.  You can easily find the right size online at places like Amazon.  Most pet doors come with a template that you’ll cut out and place on your desired exterior door (if it doesn’t come with one, use a plastic slide as a template instead).  You should place your template 3 inches above the bottom edge of the door, taping it into place.

Remove the door from its hinges and lay it across your sawhorse.  Trace the inside edge of the template onto the door.  If the pet door needs screws to secure the outer hardware directly to the door, then use this time to mark the screw hole placement.  Take off the template and now, mark your four X’s on the inside corners of your outline—for drilling.

Getting Down to Drilling

Drill your holes that you marked in each inside corner with a 1/2 -inch drill bit.  Don’t drill past your marked outline.

If your pet door required screws for outer hardware and you marked these holes earlier, then drill your screw holes using a 3/8-inch bit (or a bit size that was recommended in the manufacturer’s instructions).

Now it’s time to get out your heavier duty tools for the job.  Use a jigsaw to cut your opening.  Begin in one corner of your outline, inserting the blade into the ½-inch corner hole you drilled in your first step.  Carefully cut around the outline.

Note: different exterior doors will require different tools to cut the pet door.  For a wood or fiberglass door, you can use a reciprocating saw (or for a fiberglass door, you can use a circular saw with a diamond blade).  For a metal door, you might need a circular saw with a diamond blade to begin and the reciprocating saw to neaten the corners.


Insert the outer frame (without the flap) into your opening, on the exterior front-side of the door.  Your new frame should be flush with the inside door surface.  If it does extend past the interior surface, use a pair of pliers to take off a break-off level (a break-off level is a horizontal or vertical piece of your pet frame that can be removed to make the frame thinner, so it becomes flush).

Insert the inner frame.  Similarly, if the frame extends beyond the surface so it’s not level, remove another break-off level until it’s flush with the door.  Hold your doggie door in place and insert the screws, tightening them until they’re snug (don’t overtighten).  Next, add a layer of caulk around the inside of the outer frame. The caulking will prevent drafts and air from leaking inside.

Teaching Your Dog

a well trained golden retriever dog walking through a dog door

The hardest part about installing a new doggie door is getting your dog to actually use it.  Not all dogs are alike, so once the door is installed, your dog may not understand right away how to use it.  Hopefully, your dog is a quick learner and will be using his new doggie door in no time.

Experts recommend that the quickest way to convince your dog to use their new doggie door is with this surefire method: treats.  What dog doesn’t love bribery through treats?  Train your pet by leaving the flap of the doggie door off (or opened) for a day or two while your home.  When your dog does use the new door, reward him abundantly and immediately with treats.  He’ll begin to associate using the door with good, rewarded behavior.

Experts suggest doing this at least three times to really encourage the behavior, but it may take longer (and more patience) with younger pups.  If your dog is on a diet, you can praise him lavishly instead.  After all, you want him to be able to fit through the new door you worked so hard to install.

Start with a New Exterior Door

Before installing a doggie door, you’ll want to go with a new exterior door. You’ll want a material that’s durable, strong and stylish. At Feldco, we have premium and high quality doors made with materials like fiberglass and steel. That’s why over 400,000 homeowners chose Feldco for their home improvement needs.

We provide local services and our customer service is exceptionally good at helping you with your needs. On top of that, we have a professional installation team that’s equipped with the latest tools and equipment to get the job done within a day. Speak to a product specialist and get a free quote online today.

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