How to Install a Pet Door

A homemade pet door will make getting your dog or other pet from inside to outside much simpler and more convenient.

| January 2015

By rediscovering the everyday tasks that were the hallmarks of American life centuries ago, we are able to take more control over the resources we need. Chris Peterson and Philip Schmidt provide 30 projects that can help you get started with these everyday tasks and begin to lead a more self-reliant lifestyle in Practical Projects for Self-Sufficiency. This excerpt, which provides instructions for installing a pet door for your home, is from Section 2, “Homestead Amenities.”

Buy this book from the GRIT store: Practical Projects for Self-Sufficiency.

Pet doors are available in a variety of styles, colors, materials, and mechanisms. Install one and your dog can go outside whenever he wishes with nary a lift of a finger from you. But don’t even consider installing a dog door to the outdoors if you don’t have a securely fenced-in yard. To avoid the potential for someone opening the gate in your yard and unintentionally letting your dog loose, locked gates are also a must.

One of your biggest decisions when faced with the plethora of dog door styles will be choosing between the electronic and the manual dog door. If cost is a factor, you’re going to lean toward the manual; if security is your greatest concern, then your best bet is the electronic door.

The electronic door is made of hard plastic or Plexiglas, and it responds to an infrared signal from a key attached to the dog’s collar. It can emit a hum when activated, which is disconcerting to some dogs at first. When shopping for an electronic dog door, pay attention to the specs; some electronic doors open in only one direction.

Some dogs will go through the door right away without a problem, but most need to have some level of introduction or training. It’s important that you introduce your dog to this contraption slowly and cheerfully. If you know a friendly dog who already uses a dog door, invite him over; dogs do learn from each other. Barring a friendly canine teacher, there are some simple techniques that with enough patience are bound to work.

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