A dog door can be a nice convenience for your fur baby, allowing her to come and go outside as she pleases. Your dog may bark for joy if you install one, but will you? And is this a DIY project? Let’s sniff out the details.
The pros and cons of a dog door
A dog door can make life with a dog much easier. The doors allow a house-trained dog to let himself in and out when he needs even if you’re away from home or busy inside the house. You’ll no longer need to recruit a neighbor to let the dog out when you’re out of the house for hours at a time.
A dog door also expands your dog’s world for play and roaming. A dog that’s free to go outside as she wishes is less likely to get bored and use pent-up energy to destroy things inside. And In the event of a fire or other emergency, your beloved pet can escape even if you’re not home.
But with these advantages come other considerations and disadvantages.
- The yard into which the dog door opens must be fenced to keep your dog safe.
- Even with a fence, predators such as coyotes and large raptor birds could target your pooch, especially at night and particularly if your dog is small.
- If your dog is a barker, he may use the door to confront every squirrel, bird, pedestrian or delivery truck he hears. This annoys your neighbors.
- The same door that allows your dog to get out allows unwanted visitors to come in. Skunks, possums, raccoons and even snakes, not to mention burglars, can enter your house through the dog door. And on rainy days, your dog may track in water and mud each time she returns from a trip outside.
- It’s difficult to prevent indoor cats from using the door. They may bring in dead or dying prey such as lizards and mice as trophies.
- Dog doors can compromise the energy efficiency of your house. They swing shut after your pup passes through, but they are not airtight.
Installing it yourself
If you decide that on balance a dog door is for you and your pet, installing one is not hard. First, measure your dog’s height and select the appropriately sized door. The dog door should be a couple of inches taller than your dog.
Next, remove your house door and lay it flat on a workbench or sawhorses. Center the dog door left to right and at least three inches above the bottom edge of the house door.
Follow the dog door installation instructions. The dog door will consist of an inset portion into which the frame of the dog door itself sets and a trim portion that attaches to the house door. Use the inset portion to trace a pattern for your cutout on the main door. Depending on the material your house door is made from, use a reciprocating saw and/or a circular saw with a diamond blade to cut the opening. Once both portions of the dog door have been put into place, put a thin layer of caulk under the trim portion before tightening the screws to ensure as little air leakage as possible.
Rehang the house door. Now your little fur buddy has his very own entrance!