How to Pick a Pet Door for Your Dog or Cat
Humans aren’t the only ones who need to enter and exit through doors—so do cats and dogs! While felines and canines are completely capable of using regular
doors, there are also a lot of benefits when it comes to using pet doors.
Before purchasing a dog door or cat door, consider these five features:
How to Pick a Pet Door
- Animal Type
- Pet Size
- Weather and Security
- Door Type
- Door Placement
We are incredibly proud to announce that Rustica is now offering PetSafe pet doors for cats and dogs as an additional, optional feature for our artisan-crafted wooden doors.
So, if you’re looking to renovate your space and hoping to accommodate your pet, take a look at the simple process below for determining the ideal pet door type that is best for your entire family.
How to Pick a Pet Door for Your Home
With so many options on the market, it’s helpful to have a little guidance when shopping for your pet’s new door. The five considerations below will help you determine which type of dog or cat door would be the best for your favorite pal.
Most pet owners don’t know that doggie doors and cat doors are a bit more complex in design than they appear. This is why it’s important to consider, before all else, the type of pet you are purchasing the door for.
Pet Doors for Dogs
Rustica offers four of PetSafe’s quality pet doors for dogs, including:
- PetSafe Extreme Weather Pet Door
- Electronic Smart Door
- Extreme Weather Aluminum Pet Door
- Freedom Aluminum Pet Door.
Each is carefully designed to fit the needs of different breeds of dogs, as well as owner preference.
Pet Doors for Cats
Cats can use any of the above doors but Rustica also offers an automatic pet door design specifically created to work with the microchip system that many cat owners prefer.
PetSafe’s Microchip Cat Door is an electronic pet door that responds only to the 15 digit code of your pet’s microchip, guaranteeing that nothing else enters your home through the door’s cat flap. This system can be programmed with up to 40 microchip codes, so it’s perfect for a foster care refuge or shelter as well.
Pet size is only an issue when it comes to different breeds of dogs, as cats are typically around the same size. Rustica offers several different types of dog doors, depending on breed size.
For smaller breeds, Rustica offers PetSafe’s Extreme Weather Pet Door and PetSafe’s Electronic Smart Door. Both doors fit dogs up to 100lbs. For a medium-sized dog or a large dog, we recommend the PetSafe Extreme Weather Aluminum Pet Door, as well as the Freedom Aluminum Pet Door. Both offer a door opening large enough for pets up to 220lbs.
It’s important to make sure the original door panel can handle the size of the pet door. Not all doors will be able to accommodate a pet door, especially if there are decorative or structural elements at the bottom of the door. If you have any questions or concerns about your door’s ability to accommodate a dog door, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our customer service representatives.
Weather and Security
Pet doors have a reputation for being terrible when it comes to weather and security. Thankfully, PetSafe has resolved many of those concerns with its innovative security systems and energy-efficient designs.
If you’re concerned about weather, such as maintaining the desired temperature of your home, or worried about snow and rainfall, you’ll be happy to know that there are pet door options that solve these very issues. The Extreme Weather Pet Door and the Extreme Weather Aluminum Pet Door both feature three flaps to keep your home warm and cozy in the winter and cool and refreshing in the summer. These flaps are three and a half times more efficient for temperature control than a single flap.
For larger dogs, the Freedom Aluminum Pet Door not only stands up to heavy wear and tear but also features magnetic closure and weather stripping along the side.
If you’re looking for an automatic pet door for added security, Rustica has options for you as well. These advanced doors are perfect for energy efficiency while adding an additional element of safety. The Electronic Smart Door is a high-tech pet door that opens only when your dog or cat approaches while wearing a smart key around her collar (It also includes a backup smart key for additional control and safety). This specific pet door has an insulated flap that features UV sun protection.
The PetSafe Microchip Cat Door is also an electronic pet door that opens to your cat’s microchip code or to the four-way manual lock that can be used to override your cats ability to enter and exit the house. This system includes weather stripping and magnetic locking when the manual locking feature is not in use.
Some doors are more compatible with pet doors than others. For this reason, Rustica offers the addition of a PetSafe pet door for wood doors only.
A wooden door is the best door type
to use with a pet door because installation is quick and easy. Additionally, there aren’t any glass or decorative elements that might prevent the installation of larger pet door openings for heavier breeds.
Rustica makes it easy to purchase a cat or dog
for your hinged or sliding door by having our experts do the installation for you. If you wish to install a cat or dog door
into a steel, aluminum, or another metal door that might be used as a screen door, storm door, or patio door, you can purchase the PetSafe door from Rustica and then install it yourself.
Door placement is important because it helps you determine the extent of security and weather resistance you desire. It’s completely normal for a pet owner to want to install pet doors on interior doors as well as exterior doors. This allows a pet to move from room to room while preventing a child to do so. Some homeowners keep a litter box in the basement but would rather keep the door closed while still allowing the cat to travel up and down the stairs.
Interior doors probably don’t need to lock, nor will they need to have additional flaps for weatherproofing. An exterior door, on the other hand, will need to take both of these into consideration.
How to Install a Pet Door
Rustica offers the option of delivering your door with your cat or doggie door pre-installed, but you can also DIY the door installation. The directions below are best followed when using a wood door, like one of Rustica’s many, beautifully crafted sliding barn doors, Dutch doors, front entry doors, or patio doors. Installing a pet door in a non-wooden door will look similar, but may require different tools.
Step 1: Measure Pet’s Shoulder Height—
Before you mark, cut, or drill anything, you’ll want to measure your pet’s shoulder height using a measuring tape. This will help you determine appropriate pet door placement.
Step 2: Mark Pet’s Shoulder Height on the Door Panel—
Once you’ve determined your pet’s shoulder height, you’ll want to take your tape and a pencil and mark the height on the door panel itself. These markings will act as a guide for your pet door template.
Step 3: Remove Your Door From its Track or Hinges—
Now that your initial markings are in place, it’s time to prep the door. You’ll need to remove the door from its track or its hinges. If you installed the door yourself, you’ll be familiar with this process. If you’re a first time DIY-er, Rustica has several tutorials on installing and removing hinged and sliding barn doors
. YouTube is also a great resource.
Step 4: Line Up Pet Door Template—
Once your door panel is removed from the frame, you’ll want to place it on an adjustable workbench or sawhorse set. With the door template in hand, line it up with the shoulder height markings.
Step 5: Trace Template—
Once your template is lined up with your markings, go ahead and trace the paper. This will be part of your guide when you eventually cut the door panel. Important tip: make sure to leave three inches from the bottom of your door, even if it means moving up your pet door height. This ensures that you are not compromising the structure of the door or the integrity of the panel’s wood.
Step 6: Drill Holes in Four Corners of Template Tracing—
Now it’s time to pull out the big guns. Using a drill with a wood bit, drill through each of the four corners of your template tracing. These holes will help your jigsaw navigate the template’s border.
Step 7: Cut Along Template Markings—
Using a jigsaw,
cut along the edges of the template tracing to completely remove the door section.
Step 8: Insert Assembled Door Frame and Mark Screw Holes—
Once your pet door opening is ready, it’s time to insert your assembled door frame (temporarily). Your door frame will come completely assembled and with pre-drilled screw holes. Once you’ve placed your pet door frame in its door opening, grab your pencil and mark your screw holes on the original door panel. Then, remove the pet door frame.
Step 9: Pre-Drill Screw Holes and Screw into the Door Frame—
Using a quarter-inch bit, drill through your screw hole markings. Then return the pet door frame into its opening. Holding the exterior frame with one hand, use your other hand to screw the interior frame in with the nuts and screws provided. Trim your screws with wire cutters.
Step 10: Return Door Panel—
Your original door panel is now pet-ready! Return the door to its hinges or track system and admire your hard work.
Though the above steps work for most wooden doors, it is important to note that not all doors are compatible with pet doors. Doors that include additional features near the bottom, such as Rustica’s X Door
, cannot be paired with a pet door opening.
Where to Install a Dog Door
Although some of these additional bottom features are decorative, many are important to the structure of the door, (as in the case of the X Door). Other doors, like full-glass paned French Doors
, won’t be compatible with Rustica’s pet doors either, as the paned glass prevents installation.
For French doors or similar doors, you’ll want to get a pet door that matches your glass door panel size, which may or may not be big enough for larger breeds of dogs. If you have any questions about compatibility, you can always reach out to a Rustica customer service representative. And if you have any questions about what decorative and structural elements make up your door panel, check out our parts of a door
Another common question that many pet owners ask is whether it’s possible to install a pet door into a wall. Yes, wall installation is possible, but it requires a professional contractor. Though some of the measurements might be similar, you’ll need to make sure you aren’t interrupting a wall’s structure or sawing into a load bearing wall. There is far less room for mistakes when it comes to pet door wall installation, so please do not attempt to DIY this particular type of project.
How to Teach a Dog to Use a Pet Door
The truth is that the majority of dogs will learn to use a dog door fairly quickly, but you might have a pup who is a bit fearful or confused as to how to navigate these tiny portals, especially if you’ve purchased a door where the flap doesn’t automatically open when a collar tag approaches.
It’s important to avoid creating anxiety for your dog by forcing him through the door with a hard push or forceful pull. Instead, consider one of the helpful tips below:
Treats and Toys
With your dog’s favorite treat or toy in hand, sit or stand on the other side of the doggy door. It might be helpful to remove the flap the first few times so that your dog has a full view of your smiling face (just be sure to replace it afterward and continue practicing).
It’s important to move backward as the dog sticks his head, paws, and body through the opening. Increasing the distance as the dog moves forward will motivate him to retrieve the treat or toy from your hand by successfully venturing through his personal door.
As you stand on one side of the door with the treat, it’s okay for another family member (who the dog knows well) to sit on the interior side and lightly tap the dog’s behind in the direction of the door or gently pull on the dog’s collar from the exterior side. Just make sure that this action isn’t frightening to the animal.
Another key element to getting a pet to use a dog door is positive reinforcement. Your dog is most likely trained to respond positively to words like “good” or “yes,” so make sure to continue reinforcing your dog’s behavior as he moves through the door and reaches his treat. Dogs are also receptive to their names and owner’s voices, so you can oftentimes lure them outside by calling their names while holding a treat. As you practice, you’ll want to eventually eliminate the positive reinforcement and then the treat so they learn to move without a reward.
You can also demonstrate how to use a pet door by pushing through the doggy door with your hand. An adult won’t be able to fit through the pet door, but showing how parts of your body can move through the flap will be helpful for your dog.
Eliminate Regular Door Use
It’s also helpful to encourage your dog to only use the pet door for the next couple of weeks until he gets the hang of it. Anytime he wants to go outside or transition through interior rooms, encourage them to use the pet door. Make sure the “human door” is off-limits by keeping it closed and encouraging your furry family member to use the pet door instead.
How to Teach a Cat to Use a Pet Door
Despite their reputation for being stubborn and elusive, cats are adventurous, playful, and trainable creatures. Teaching a feline friend to use a pet door is similar to the techniques used for dogs, with a few exceptions.
Whether you’ve installed a patio pet door to give your cat a taste of the wild or whether you simply want to give him a discreet way to locate the litter box, your cat can be trained to use a flap or electronic door.
Remove the Flap
Because cats can be easily scared, it’s best to remove the door flap for first use to allow your cat to see outside or have a view of the adjacent room. The flap will transform into a window for your cat to first look through before venturing forward. This will create more of a trusting relationship with the door and also prevent the door flap from suddenly hitting or touching your cat, which could send them running in the opposite direction.
Once your cat has learned to walk back and forth through the door, either replace the flap or for a more gradual transition, place a small towel or pillowcase that covers half of the door.
Treats and Toys
Cats are also motivated by their favorite treats and toys. To encourage your cat to use the pet door, place a treat or jingle their favorite toy on the other side. You’ll be surprised how quickly they jump through the door for their reward.
Time is Key
Because cats are natural explorers, sometimes all they need is a bit of time to discover their new door. Let them sniff, scratch, touch, and explore the door flap on their own. If they like physical touch, give them a few pats and pets along the way as encouragement. Otherwise, leave them to their own discovery and soon they’ll be using the pet door without any trouble.
Your Pet’s Dream Door: A Rustica and PetSafe Creation!
Now your pet can benefit from two quality companies. Both Rustica and PetSafe are known for their time-tested door craftsmanship. A PetSafe addition to your Rustica door will keep all members of your family safe, whether they travel on two or four feet. Like Rustica’s own doors, these pet doors are offered in a few different styles and finishes, so both manual and electronic dog pet doors can look as great as they function.
Before purchasing a PetSafe door through Rustica, you’ll want to verify that you’ve considered the size of both your pet and door, as well as the door’s purpose and panel placement in your floor plan. All of these elements are incredibly important in ensuring that you purchase the perfect door for your pet and install it correctly.
As long as you consider this list and follow the directions for buying a pet door, you’ll find a door that both humans and pets love. Soon, your dog or cat will be running in and out through their new pet door, enjoying their newfound freedom.