How to Install a Dog or Pet Door

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

Well it's time for me to make another house call.  Kelly and Glen Panotti of Palo Alto, California want to give their dog Sushi a door of her own.  So I'm going to see if I can lend a hand.

And this would be?
KELLY:
Sushi.
RON HAZELTON:
Hi sweetheart, how are you.  How you doing huh?  How you doing sweetie.  Yes, oh - so this is the, this is the doorway here huh?

GLENN:
Yes, this is where we want the doggie door.

RON HAZELTON:
Now this, this doorway goes where? To your house -
GLENN:
To our garage.

RON HAZELTON:
The garage okay. So Sushi, you'll be able to go from the patio out here, the courtyard to the garage on your own huh?  Is Sushi pretty much full size now would you say?
GLENN:
Pretty much. She'll probably get maybe 5 pounds heavier.

RON HAZELTON:
Okay.   And any other dogs coming along, brothers and sisters?
KELLY:
No, I don't think so. We're a one dog family.

RON HAZELTON:
One dog family okay.  So we'll base the size of the dog door then on her current height right now.

Doggie doors should be positioned so that the bottom of the door is at roughly the same height from the floor as the dog's chest.  So we'll need to make some measurements.  But measuring a moving target is a bit of a challenge.  Okay, I would say about - just about - I would say just about 10 inches.

But the inside and outside floors are not the same height. So we'll need to modify our measurements.

4 inch difference between those two.  I'd suggest we split the difference. And make the opening, the bottom of the opening about 8 inches up from the bottom of the door right here.  We measure and mark the 8 inches.  Then remove the door.

Why don't you go ahead and take that pin out on the upper hinge there.  That's the last one.  Using a hammer and screwdriver, Kelly drives the pins out of the hinges and again pulls the door free.

Let me put a piece of tape down here again. The tape will make our marks easier to see. And avoid our having to erase a lot of pencil lines from the door later on.

Glenn measures the width of the door to find the exact center and Kelly marks the spot on the tape.  Square if you would. We're going to draw a perpendicular line right up -

Now we'll extend our center line several inches upward.   So if you come up here, you're 8 inches.  Then measure up 8 inches from the bottom edge.  Okay, now we'll draw a line parallel to the bottom right there.  This will be the bottom edge of the opening.  This doggie door like most comes with a security panel.  In this case, the panel is the exact size of the opening we need to cut and serves as a template.

So this is the center  line of the panel, this is the center line of the door. If we align those, you know we've got the panel snug in the door and we'll align the bottom edge with this line right here.

Now large drill bits like this tend to splinter the wood as they exit.  So we'll start the hole from this side. But stop about halfway through.  All right, guys.  Now we're going to flip this over -

And finish the hole from the opposite side of the door.  The pilot hole will show us exactly where to drill.  Those are our 4 corners of the opening.

So we're ready to cut.  Have you used a jigsaw before?
KELLY:
No, never before.
RON HAZELTON:
Great.  I love that.  All right one thing -there's a little notch right here. See that?
KELLY:
[Affirmative].
RON HAZELTON:
Okay, well the idea is to keep that notch or the bottom of that notch on your line.
KELLY:
Okay.
RON HAZELTON:
Just come right down here, all right.
KELLY:
Just follow that, okay.
RON HAZELTON:
Just follow that.  Glenn and Kelly quickly get the hang of the jigsaw.  And before you know it, we have a hole in the door.  We no longer need the tape, so we pull it off and it's quickly disposed of. 

Since this is an exterior door, we want to make sure there's a water tight seal around the edge of the doggie door frame.  An exterior caulk like this one will prevent leaks which could cause the door to rot from the inside out.  Think you'll still be in this house in 25 years?
KELLY:
I don't know.  It's kind of a small house.
RON HAZELTON:
Planning a family?
KELLY:
Eventually.  A dog’s kind of practice, right.
RON HAZELTON:
I know that. We press the exterior portion of the frame into the caulk and use our fingers to smooth any caulk that has squeezed out. Wipe off the excess here.  Glenn and Kelly apply some tape to hold the frame in position while Sushi and I supervise.

Then we turn the door over.  Okay, now this is the interior panel.  I want to make sure that the hinge side goes to the top of the door. And if you guys want to start putting these screws in.

Screws secure the inner panel to the outer one.  In effect, sandwiching the door in between.  You guys work together?
KELLY:
Yes, we do.
[SEVERAL SPEAK AT ONCE]
RON HAZELTON:
No, I should - yeah, you work really well together.  Our installation complete, we re-hang the door and discuss security issues. One thing I want to show you here, this is called a security panel. It just slips right in from the top here.

And the reason you want to use this is to keep uninvited guests from coming in.  It could be other dogs, other pets in the neighborhood. I've even seen raccoons come in through doors like this.  Well we finished but our project still needs final approval from the top dog.

Come on, come on Sush, come on.
ALL:
Yay!
RON HAZELTON:
Well I guess our efforts weren't for naught.
GLENN:
Thanks, Ron.
RON HAZELTON:
She seems to like it.
KELLY:
Thanks so much.
RON HAZELTON:
One last thing before I go.   Glenn snaps a picture for Sushi's web page where I'm the guest of honor.

Install a Pet Door to Allow Your Dog or Cat Free Access Inside and Outside Your Home

Spend an afternoon on a pet door installation and make life easier for you and your pet long term. Customize pet door size for your cat or dog. Use the security panel to control access at night or in your absence. Pet door installation requires one person, but company is welcome and makes the work go faster.

Measure and Mark Elevation of Pet's Chest from Floor/Ground
Step 1

Measure and Mark Elevation of Pet's Chest from Floor/Ground

Measure the height of your pet's chest to determine the correct pet door height from the floor/ground. If the ground outside is a different elevation from the floor inside, average the heights and mark the elevation with tape.

Mark the Door's Center and Remark the Pet Door's Elevation
Step 2

Mark the Door's Center and Remark the Pet Door's Elevation

Run masking tape upward from the door's center bottom edge. Draw a perpendicular line up the exact center of the door to intersect the exact measurement for the pet door's bottom edge as measured and marked earlier with tape.

Trace Cut Lines for the Pet Door Opening
Step 3

Trace Cut Lines for the Pet Door Opening

Mark the center of the pet door security cover/panel and align it with center of the exterior door marked earlier. Trace around the security panel with a heavy pencil, using it as a rectangular template for the pet door opening.

Drill Starter Holes at the Corners of the Rectangular Tracing
Step 4

Drill Starter Holes at the Corners of the Rectangular Tracing

Drill small pilot holes through the corners of the pet door tracing. Keep the drill vertical. Re-drill halfway through the door with a larger bit. Finish the hole from the opposite side to avoid splintering the wood.

Cut an Opening along the Trace Lines with a Jigsaw
Step 5

Cut an Opening along the Trace Lines with a Jigsaw

Insert the blade of a jigsaw into one of the corner holes and saw along the cut lines traced earlier for the pet door. Be particularly careful about cutting the corners neatly and completely at right angles. Remove the tape.

Run a Bead of Exterior Caulking around the Opening
Step 6

Run a Bead of Exterior Caulking around the Opening

Run exterior caulking around the opening to make a water-tight seal for the pet door frame and prevent wood rot. Press the frame in place, remove excess caulking with your fingers, and secure it temporarily with painter's tape.

Position and Secure the Interior Frame of the Pet Door
Step 7

Position and Secure the Interior Frame of the Pet Door

Position the interior frame of the pet door in the opening with the hinge side upward. Secure this inner panel to the outer panel with screws, effectively sandwiching the people door between.

Use the Pet Door Security Panel to Control Access
Step 8

Use the Pet Door Security Panel to Control Access

Slip the security panel onto the pet door from the interior side to prevent your house pet from exiting or entering at night or when you are away from home. It5 also prevents other domestic or wild animals from entering.

Introduce Your House Pet to the New Pet Door
Step 9

Introduce Your House Pet to the New Pet Door

Teach your dog or cat to use the pet door to exit and enter your home. If necessary, coax your reluctant pet from the opposite site with treats and praise it when it passes through the opening