Install A Pet Door

  • Install A Pet Door

More than half of Australian and New Zealand households have at least one dog or cat as a domestic pet. More and more, animals are becoming part of the family.

While it is common to keep larger dogs in the yard for security, most owners also allow their pets the run of the house. But they still need regular access to the outdoors. 

The use of litter trays offers cats an indoor toilet facility, but a dog always has to go outside. This usually entails getting a human’s attention, having them open the door, and then barking to be allowed back in. 

The provision of a pet door allows animals to come and go without disturbing anyone. It took this Lhasa Apso called Amber half an hour to get the hang of using her new door.

Personal style

Pet doors come in a range of sizes, styles, colours and security options, to suit the individual needs of the animal and the homeowner. 

Dog doors and cat flaps are available for fitting to solid doors, glass doors and screen doors. They can be designed to open only one way or both, and can be locked for security. 

To prevent the opening being used by unwelcome visitors such as strays, possums or other small animals, some doors come armed with sensors that will only unlock when they detect a magnetic strip in the pet’s collar. 

With this approach, your pet effectively has its own key pass to open the door and lock it after entry, with no unauthorised access permitted.   

Sizing up your pet 

DETERMINE THE SIZE of door you need before you buy, by measuring the shoulder width of your pet. 

MEASURE THE TUMMY HEIGHT of the animal from the ground and use this to determine the distance from the floor to the base of the pet door. 

The base should be no higher than tummy height so that the animal can pass through easily.

Also consider the agility of your pet. An old arthritic dog or overweight cat won’t use the entry if it requires an energetic climb or leap of faith. 

how to measure your pet, handyman magazine,
Determine of door you need before you buy, by measuring the shoulder width of your pet


measure your pets tummy handyman magazine,
Measure the tummy height of the animal from the ground 

Step 1. Set pet hole baseline

Use a spirit level to mark the base cutout line while the door is still in position on its hinges. This will ensure the pet door appears plumb, even if the door is not. Remove the door and place it on a pair of sawhorses. Check the line height.

Step 2. Mark door centre

Find the centre of the door on the baseline. Measure and mark 115mm to either side for a 230mm wide door. TIP If a template is provided with the pet door, attach it at the desired height on the line with masking tape. Mark the drilling points and cut lines.

Step 3. Sketch door cutout

Position a set square or builder’s square on the 115mm corner setout marks and draw two vertical lines, 265mm in length, perpendicular to the ends of the horizontal baseline. Draw the top horizontal line to complete the door rectangle to be cut out.

Step 4. Cut out the door hole

Drill a 10mm diameter hole in one corner of the rectangle, making sure the hole is kept on the inside of the lines for a neat finish. Position the blade of a jigsaw in the starter hole and, staying just to the inside of the marked lines, cut out the shape.

Step 5. Drill clearance holes

Sand the edges using 120 grit paper then position the outer side of the pet door. Swing the flap in both directions to check movement and adjust if needed. Mark the position of the four fastening bolts, drilling 4mm clearance holes at each attachment point.

Step 6. Secure the pet door

Paint all cut surfaces to protect the timber then position both the internal and external components tightly against the door. Insert the fastening bolts and secure the two halves. Re-hang the door and begin training your pet to enjoy its new freedom.

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