Ultimate Guide To Choosing A Dog Door

Last Updated: 10 months ago

Maybe your pooch needs to go outside, but you’re in the middle of something and cannot attend to its needs. At the same time, you don’t want to neglect your furry companion. So, getting a dog door will allow you to give it the freedom to go out on its own terms.

Simply put, installing a pet door in your home is an essential step that will simplify your life. Plus, it will make your dog happy, which is something that all pet owners want.

Our dogs appreciate having freedom (to some degree). Apart from that, they enjoy being outdoors, as it is healthy for their mental and physical wellbeing.

Nowadays, you can get a pet door for any home. This guide aims at enlightening you so that you can make an informed, sensible decision about buying the right pet door for your companion.

What Is A Dog Door?

The Ultimate Guide To Dog Door

A pet door represents a portal in an actual door, window, or wall that enables your pooch to enter and leave the house whenever it wants. In other words, by installing such an item, you give up on your job as a doorman for your furry companion.

In essence, a pet door used to be a simple hole. However, the modern versions are more diverse. Some are electronically controlled, some are magnetic, while others facilitate protection from the wind, rain, or large intruders.

Benefits Of Having A Dog Door

If you’re still not convinced regarding the unmatched benefits of installing a dog door, maybe the following aspects will do the trick:

We are responsible for ensuring that our pets’ lives are happy. We consider that a pet door could seriously help you reach this goal.


The main advantage to installing a pet door is the comfort it brings. Let’s say that you’re working late hours or you’re out of town for the day.

Having such a door means you no longer need to ask for the neighbor to come and let your dog out. Or, in the worst-case scenario, you won’t come home to find an accident on your favorite carpet.

Maximizing Your Pet’s Health

Pets and dogs, in particular, must engage in regular exercise. Otherwise, they are prone to developing destructive behaviors such as furniture chewing, stubbornness, boredom, so on and so forth.

Although we love our pets and we wish for them to be happy and healthy, sometimes our busy schedules deter us from giving them the exercise they need so badly.

So, if your dog doesn’t get regular exercise, this could lead to obesity and muscle atrophy. Afterward, this could cause other health problems. You could seriously prevent these by giving your companion the freedom to enjoy time outdoors on a daily basis.

Spending Time Outdoors Stimulates Your Pet

Although dogs grow fond of spending time indoors nearby their owners, the outdoors is the place where they feel free, for good.

Plus, being outdoors equals having access to sounds, smells, and sights that contribute to keeping your companion alert and aware of its surroundings. It also stimulates its senses, which, once more, could prevent boredom.

Say Goodbye To Indoor Accidents

If a dog is kept inside for extended hours, it is inevitable: it could (better said: will) cause accidents. Finding traces of urine and feces inside is far from being pleasurable.

On the opposite, it can be a hassle to clean, not to mention that it causes nasty odors and bacteria. 

If your dog has access to the outdoors, you won’t have to deal with such incidents. The only condition is to make sure that you train your dog accordingly. It could take a while, but it’s certainly worth the effort.

Dog Door Installation

Bear in mind that both dogs and cats vary greatly in size. That’s why you should take the time to measure your pet before purchasing the dog door. Typically, the opening width should be at least 2 inches wider than your pet’s width. As for the height, it should be at least two inches taller than your pet.

Now you may be wondering how to install a dog door? Let’s find the answer in the following paragraphs. First, let’s see the tools you’ll need:

  • Drill
  • Grinder
  • Adhesive
  • Tape measure
  • Jigsaw
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Sandpaper

Step 1: Use The Template

In general, most pet doors include a template, which should make the process easier. Take the door off its hinges, if it’s the first time you’re doing such a project.

As you position the template, make sure that it is low enough for your pooch to reach it. Follow the outline after making sure it is the correct size of the pet door. You could also consider drilling holes along the outline.

Step 2: Cut The Hole

After marking the outline, it is time to cut the door. Making a hole in a wooden door is quite easy.

However, if you have a UPVC door, the process could be a tad trickier, yet not impossible.

The process is unchanged; the only difference is that you’ll need a robust blade to cut through the door.

Step 3: Sand It Down

As soon as you have cut the outline that will fit the door, you’ll notice some sharp edges around the corners. To maximize your pooch’s safety, make sure you soft those edges down.

Step 4: Attach The Pet Door

After cutting the hole, the next step is securing the inner place with screws or bolts (often included in the kit). You could ask someone to hold the door for you as you secure it.

After installing the frame, the next step is to attach the door flap. Make sure that it swings freely when in use, and stays put when it’s not.

As you can see, installing a dog door isn’t an impossible mission. If you have the right set of tools at your side, you can do it. Installing a wall pet door could be a bit more challenging, since it involves cutting through a wall that has wires, for example.

Types Of Dog Doors

Dog Standing Outside The Door

As we recently mentioned, dog doors come in a wide range of models to fit different needs and specifications. On that note, we enumerated the main types of pet doors you can choose from so that you could make a truly informed purchase.

The size of the door is a crucial consideration. If it is too small for your pooch, training it to use it will be quite impossible. As a general guideline, you should measure your dog before buying a pet door.

Without further ado, these are the main types of doors for your dog and their most important features.

Sliding Glass Dog Door

Many dog owners prefer installing a dog door in their sliding glass doors. That’s because these don’t require cutting a hole in a wall or door.

Generally speaking, pet doors designated for sliding glass doors are panels featuring the track of the door.

The slider of the door is going to slide against the panel as opposed to sliding all the way to the wall.

As for how the dog door for sliding glass door is secured, you should know that most panels are equipped with a pressure system.

Also, depending on the manufacturer, some panels necessitate drilling a hole through the track so that it stays in place.

Apart from that, panels are, in general, featured by alternative locking systems, as they cannot utilize your current lock. On that note, you could consider getting an automatic pet door; however, these are quite pricey in comparison with other products.

Patio Dog Door

Many owners prefer facilitating outdoor access to their pets through their patios. Depending on the type of patio door you have, you could choose from various models. The most practical and expensive option would be to get an automatic patio dog door.

This is, by far, the most convenient choice as it enables you to regulate the hours when your pooch could go outside. Still, truth be told, these are quite pricey; but they are long-term investments.

If you’re living in a moderate climate, you could get a cost-effective patio door featuring a clear, vinyl flap. The flexible, clear flap makes it easy for your pet to get used to the door.

Screen Door With Dog Door

Another viable option is to install a pet door on a screen. Whether we’re talking about a sliding screen door, a window screen, or others, such an item could be easily installed in any type of doorway.

As a general rule, we would recommend durable screen materials when it comes to installing pet doors. That’s because low-quality materials are prone to wearing out prematurely.

Some of these doors are attached to the corners of the screen. This way, one can attach the two sides to the frame. The other two sides are linked to the screen material.

Typically, dog doors for screen doors aren’t that challenging to install. In truth, fixing them is easier than in the case of pet doors for walls.

French Door With Dog Door

French doors feature a unique glass design. Although they look great, they could make it difficult for you to find the right dog door that would be the perfect fit.

In general, most French doors necessitate a custom-sized pet door. It’s important to ensure that your pet can easily fit through the door. If you own a dog of medium or large size, you should pay attention to this aspect.

Some manufacturers provide practical solutions for French doors, so it makes sense to consider those alternatives first. If they don’t work for the design of your French door, you could consider a DIY project.

Dog Door In Wall

Installing a pet door in a wall can be quite practical if you want to facilitate access to a utility room, the garage, laundry room, etc. Obviously, it implies cutting a hole in the wall before installing the dog door.

We wouldn’t advise you to do this by yourself unless you are skilled and have the right tools to help you.

Bear in mind that your walls have electrical wires or plumbing elements, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could end up causing a lot of trouble.

As a general piece of advice, for openings in exterior walls, you should ensure they are properly waterproofed so that you won’t have to cope with rain leakage.

Large Dog Door

Large-breed dogs could make your search for the perfect pet door quite tiring. If you’re on the lookout for a dependable dog door for a great Dane, you know what I’m saying.

As we noted before, it is crucial to ensure that the pet door you get is the right size for your furry companion. Imagine how you would feel if you had to go through a narrow door each day—quite unpleasant, right?

On that note, some manufacturers provide dog doors that are made specifically for large dog breeds. In general, an extra-large dog door is made of long-lasting, durable materials to fit the specifications of bigger (yet equally lovable) dogs.

Electronic (Automatic) Pet Door

Electronic pet doors aim at making our lives as convenient and simple as possible. To be more precise, the best automatic dog door facilitates a whole new level of security for your home in the sense that it deters unwanted guests (such as raccoons, stray cats, rats, and so on) from using the pet door to enter your house.

In general, automatic pet doors are activated by special collars that your pet should wear at all times. Alternatively, other models work with an electronic chip or magnet.

Another type of product worth mentioning is the energy-efficient dog door. Typically, this type of item has a rigid flap as opposed to a flexible one. That is meant to keep the house insulated, preventing the wind from entering your home.

Smart Dog Door

This type of door ensures ultimate peace of mind for every pet owner. Most models feature selective entry, exit, and auto-locking functions. These products offer the highest degree of convenience. You have control over whom and what enters your house, which gives you peace of mind.

Insulated Pet Door

An insulated pet door is a necessary acquisition if you live in an area where extreme temperatures are common. Some pet doors are made to work for moderate climates only, as they don’t do an excellent job at keeping the cold weather outside.

An insulated dog door is your best option if you live in an area where the temperatures are either too low or too high. Insulated dog doors come in a variety of sizes. Most designs feature a practical flap and frame, promising to be built for extreme weather.

DIY Dog Door

Dog Infront Of Private Dog Door

If you’re the type of person who is particularly handy, you could think of designing and creating your own dog door. If you’re skilled, there’s no reason you shouldn’t give it a try. Still, bear in mind that it could take some planning and preparation, but nothing extraordinary.

A good idea might be to look at commercial pet doors that are created for your pup’s breed.

Once you have the right size, you should mark the outline on the door, as we described before when we discussed the installation of a pet door.

To create the flap part, an idea would be to re-use rubber car mats. Cut them into a rectangle. It should be a tad narrower than the door opening. Glue the pieces together at the edges to make them one single, thick piece. If you think that this could be too bulky for your pooch, you could use thick polyethylene instead.

You could also add a magnetic strip to the bottom. Also, you should place a matching magnetic strip on the exterior of the door. This will prevent it from flapping whenever it’s windy outside.

When it comes to attaching the flap, you ought to align the magnetic edge with the strip on the door. Alternatively, you may use a staple gun and screws to secure the flap in place. Afterward, what remains for you to do is add some molding around the edges to make your little DIY project look neat.

Reliable Manufacturers

We bring you some of the best manufacturers of dog doors:


We already mentioned PetSafe in some of our review articles. That’s because it is a trustworthy manufacturer whose priority is to supply products that make the life of every pet owner much easier.

On that note, in spite of the size of your dog and your individual needs, PetSafe has it covered. They furnish pet doors for dogs and cats of all sizes.

You can choose from standard, magnetic, or electronic models, depending on your budget and needs.

If you pick a PetSafe dog door, you are imminently choosing a high-quality product that will give your furry companion the independence it needs. In addition, you can also get a decent dog door replacement flap from PetSafe.


Moving on, Hale Pet Door is another noteworthy name in the industry of pet doors. Their products are meant to provide optimal levels of security, durability, and efficacy.

In the event that you aren’t fully satisfied with your purchase, the manufacturer will provide a full refund in 30 days’ time.

The condition is that the product isn’t damaged. In the case of a broken pet door, one could receive a 50 percent return only.

Also, every Hale dog door has a five-year limited warranty. It applies only if Hale Pet Door installs the product.

Hale has more than 25 years of experience in the domain of creating high-quality pet doors. It offers superior quality, which is what helped them build a distinguished reputation.

Ideal Pet Products

And thirdly, Ideal Pet Products provides pet doors that aim at ensuring your pet’s safety while taking into account its sense of adventure.

Their selection of pet doors includes both large and small patio doors. One of their most popular product releases is the ruff Weather Dog Door.

It is, without a doubt, the best cold-weather dog door. It is designed to keep the cold outside, even in the most severe winter scenario.

So, this is a high-quality, energy-efficient dog door. We would recommend it to anyone living in a rough climate.

Ideal Pet Products has been producing pet doors since 1979. Their aim is to protect the environment by supplying energy-saving doors for various needs and budgets.

Each Ideal Pet Products dog door comes accompanied by a one-year warranty.

Final Thoughts

All things considered, selecting a dog door based on your pet’s specifications is not as challenging when you know what to look for. Being informed is crucial, which is why we aimed to offer as many details as possible throughout this article.

Although a pet door is a life-saving acquisition, you shouldn’t expect your companion to learn how to use it overnight. That is quite unattainable. Make sure you are patient with your pooch and make the transition as easy and fun as possible.

Also, we couldn’t say that there is a general timeframe for your companion to get accustomed to the door. It is different with each pet.

What you need to do is choose the item that comes in the right size so that your pet can use the door comfortably.


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