Install a Pet Door

If you have a pet that spends time both indoors and out, then you’re familiar with the game of letting them in and out by opening the door time after time. So who’s really in charge? By installing a pet door into an exterior door, you can give them the freedom to come and go as they please and return to feeling like you’re in charge.

Supplies

  • Pet Door Kit
  • A Door

Tools

  • Pencil
  • Jigsaw
  • Drill

Step 1: Get the Right Size Pet Door 

Before you start cutting into one of your doors, make sure you get the right size door for your pet(s). The pet door should give your pet about 2″ of clearance all around. Usually, pet doors come with everything you need for installation. Don’t forget if you have a puppy or kitten, leave enough room for growth.

Helpful Tips: Install a door with a sturdy two-flap design and weather-stripping features. Even more importantly, choose a model that comes with a removable interior door panel that closes the opening when you are away or if you want it securely shut overnight.

Step 2: Remove the Exterior Door

Remove the door from its hinges by removing the hinge screws and then carry it to your designated work area. Have sawhorses ready to hold the door. Having the door lying flat and elevated in this way will make the job easier and safer.

Step 3: Trace Pet Door Opening

Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before starting. Most pet door kits come with a template to use as a guide so that you can mark the dimensions of the pet door opening on the exterior door. Use a pencil to trace the size and shape of the template on the door’s surface. Be sure when placing the template on the door that you check that it is level and centered. You don’t want a doggy door that’s all cattywampus. Use a level and a ruler or measuring tape. Keep in mind that the bottom of the pet door should be at least 3″ to 4″ from the bottom of the exterior door and should be at about the height of your pet’s tummy. Mark an “X” at each corner of the traced outline of the pet door.

Safety Alert!
Be sure that the pet door’s position makes the exterior door’s lock out of reach from an enterprising intruder.

Step 4: Cut Opening in Door

Drill a hole in each “X” using a drill. Starting at one of the “Xs,” use a jigsaw to cut through the door along one of the traced lines. Repeat around the entire outline and then knock out the cut-out piece. If you have a steel exterior door, you may need to make your cuts using a circular saw with a metal-cutting blade if the jigsaw won’t do the job.

Step 5: Attach Pet Door Frame

Following the supplied instructions, make the appropriate holes for the screws that will hold the pet door frame in place using the drill. Attach the exterior side of the frame using the supplied screws and a power screwdriver or drill. Then, attach the interior frame the same way. Apply a bead of silicone caulk around the outside edges of the exterior side of the pet door to provide an airtight seal.

Step 6: Rehang Exterior Door

After the pet door has been completely installed, put the exterior door back in place. And guess what? You’re done…oh wait…

Step 7: Train Your Pet to Use the Door

Now comes the hard part (depending on the pet) — getting them to use the pet door. Some will take right to it, seeing an easy way outside. Others may need some coaxing to show them how to use it. You can start by simply showing them the opening and gently nudging them through it to show them how it works. More hesitant pets may need some sort of treat or positive reinforcement to entice them to try it out. Use one of his favorite treats and a lot of “good boys” to lead him through the opening.

Excellent work. Now your pet has the freedom to go out when he needs to, while you’re free to do whatever it is you need to do.

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