For four years, we lived in rentals with a dog. Having the freedom to install a dog door was honestly one of my most frequently thought-of reasons for owning a home. Sometimes dogs have to pee early in the morning when I like to sleep in. Sometimes they get sick and want to go outside in a hurry, and it’s much more pleasant for them and for people if they can get outside quickly. And old Wilbur’s greatest joy in life is being inside the house, so I didn’t want to relegate him to the yard for long periods of time. Soon after Wilbur came home with us, we installed the dog door. It was a pretty straightforward process, though it did take some time. Here’s how it went:
1. Complete 6 foot fence around back yard.
2. Get dog.
3. Realize the antique screen door will have to go.
4. Do a bunch of research and choose a type of door. I considered the ones that unlock or even open magically when a pet wearing the magnetic or electronic “key” collar approaches, and while I liked the enhanced security aspect, I decided the simplicity of the traditional flap made more sense for us. I then proceeded to choose pretty much the most expensive flap door possible: the Endura Flap. But with a solid frame construction, effective seals to keep cold air from constantly leaking in, and a 10 year warranty on the flaps, it might be worth it, especially
if when we replace the back door and have to uninstall and reinstall the dog door one or more times.
5. Check for proper door sizing using dog, treats, and a piece of cardboard.
6. Order door. Receive door.
7. Trace included template on door. Check for level.
8. Take door off hinges.
9. Use jigsaw to cut hole.
10. Cut some
2x4s [Edit: whoops, I meant 1x4s] to attach to the ridiculously thin panel of the door so that the double-flap (more energy efficient) model will fit.
11. Get rid of the routed edge around the panel using the Fein multimaster and a chisel.
12. Drill, countersink and screw the 2x4s to the door.
13. Put the door back on its hinges.
14. Follow directions to install the dog door frame, including make sure it’s level.
15. Attempt to use wood filler to cover the screws and joints between pieces of wood.
Fail “Buy some experience,” as Matt’s grandpa says. Figure out why technique was no good and led to ugly cracks.
16. Use birthday gift of blade/carving set to remove wood filler and redo the job better. Decide that wood filler is ok on the screws but caulk is better for the joints between pieces of wood - at least on the exterior side. Yes, Matt really got this for me for my b-day, and yes, I do appreciate gifts like this.
17. Caulk the interior joint between the two sides of the frame so the cut part of the door won’t be exposed to water.
18. Teach dog to use his door by throwing treats through while holding the flap open. Rejoice when he starts using it on his own after only one day.
19. Procrastinate on painting the door, figuring it will be more efficient to do it when we’re already painting siding and trim in the not too distant future.
20. Enjoy happy dog. Sleep in. Start next project.
Edit: The dog door came with a panel that locks it from the inside, so if Wilbur isn’t home to guard the house, we can still keep intruders out.