Installing Pet Doors


In and out. In and out. Do you feel like a doorman for your pet? Install a pet door, and relieve yourself from being on door duty. This intermediate-level project can be completed using the most standard tools. The most important step is cutting the right size hole in the door. Just to be safe, we recommend taking the following measurements twice.

Cats and dogs vary greatly in size. Make sure you purchase the proper door size for your pet. Pet doors come in sizes ranging from 5 inches by 8 inches to 13 inches by 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 the length from the top of the shoulders to the chest, just behind the front legs.

Most pet doors include a template for placement. Cut out the template as instructed. If your pet door doesn’t have a template, use the plastic slide as a template. Place the template in the desired location on the door, at least 3 inches above the bottom edge of the door. Tape the template in place. Then follow these instructions:

Step 1

Use a pencil to trace the interior edge of the pet door template opening onto the door. If your pet door requires screws to fasten the outer hardware to the door, mark the screw hole placement with a pencil. Remove the template.

Step 2

Make four X marks on the inside corners of the outline. These marks are for drilling.

Step 3

Drill holes in the middle of the X marks at each corner, using a ½-inch drill bit. Make sure the hole doesn't extend past the outline.

Step 4

For pet doors that require screws to fasten the outer hardware to the door, drill the screw holes you marked using a 3/8-inch bit or bit size recommended by the manufacturer.

Step 5

Use a jigsaw to cut the opening. Start in one corner, inserting the blade into the ½-inch corner hole you drilled. Carefully cut along the pencil line. Continue around the outline of the pet door.

Step 6

Insert the outer frame with no flap into the opening from the exterior face of the door. The frame should be flush with the interior door surface. If the frame extends into the interior, use pliers to remove a single break-off level. Break-off levels are horizontal and vertical pieces that can be snapped off with pliers to make the pet doorframe thinner. Break off one level at a time, starting at a top corner. Bend the metal inward toward the center. Remove 2-inch sections of the break-off level at a time. Continue around the pet doorframe.

Step 7

Insert the frame. If it still extends into the interior, remove another break-off level. Repeat until the frame is flush with the door.

Step 8

Insert the inner frame with the flap into the opening on the interior face of the door. Hold the door in place and insert the screws. Tighten the screws until snug. Don't over tighten.

Add caulk to the inside of the outer frame to prevent air leaks.


Training your pet to use their new pet door may be a challenge. Some people like to leave the flap off for a day or two. This allows your pet to move through easily. It also helps to call your pet through the hole from outside. When your pet goes through the door, praise them lavishly.

Another option is to offer treats or food for each time they go through the door. Pet experts recommend that you repeat this reward three times in a row to firmly lock the behavior in place. If you have a younger animal, it may take longer to teach them the new practice. But be patient. Some animals take longer than others. But when your pet does learn, they'll love their newfound freedom.

Use the slide that comes with the door kit to keep other animals out when you are away or asleep. Make sure your pet is safely inside before closing.


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