DIY Dog Doors: Easy Come, Easy Go!

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Dog DIY By Nathan Hinds 9 min read March 16, 2020

Got a pooch that loves to go in and out all day long for absolutely no reason? A dog door may be just the ticket to keeping you sane and keeping your dog satisfied!

When safely used, dog doors open up a world of sniffs and adventures within your own backyard for your pooch – they help keep him occupied without relying on your constant attention. 

When it comes to picking out the right dog door, though, one size does not fit all.

The commercially made doors on the market are of varying quality, but even the very best dog doors available may not suit the needs of your furry friend or your home. 

DIY dog doors allow you to construct the canine entryway of your dreams, from sizing to safety, and everything in between. Unique plans offer ample opportunity to customize your dog door based on your materials, budget, and, most importantly, the size and shape of your dog. 

Below, we’ll cover the basics of dog doors, and then we’ll share some of our favorite DIY dog door plans so you can match the right hatch to your home!

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Why Should You Make Your Own DIY Dog Door

Customization is the key benefit when it comes to building a DIY dog door. Store bought dog doors tend to come in a limited range of sizes and materials, and may not work for all door sizes. 

So, before you make a trip to your local hardware store, consider these benefits of the DIY dog door:

  • Multi-dog (or chunky dog) accommodations: If you live in a multi-dog home with dogs of all shapes and sizes, you’ll soon discover that the store bought dog door sizes are quite limited. With a custom dog door, you can adjust the height and width to easily accommodate your pup or pups.  
  • Cost effectiveness: Dog doors tend to run the gamut of prices, but many DIY options can be made using materials you’ve already got in your home. A lot of plans utilize scrap wood, metal, plastic, or other products. You’ll recycle and save money with your DIY dog door!
  • Make your own security features: Generally speaking, a lot of the dog doors available for purchase are bare bones – just frame and flap. You’ll have to find creative ways to add your own security features. Many DIY plans offer solutions for sealing off the gaping hole in your door for security and pest avoidance.  

7 DIY Dog Door Plans

We’ve covered the benefits of making your own dog door, now we’ll dive right into our favorite DIY plans!

1. Design Your Own DIY Doggie Door

From The Honest Kitchen comes an easily constructed means of customizing a doggie door for any size of pooch. This plan offers simple step-by-step instructions on how to measure your dog and door, plus explicit directions for installation. 

DIY Dog Door

This plan additionally offers useful instructions for sealing off the dog door each time you leave for much-needed home security and pet safety. 

Difficulty Level: Easy

Materials Needed

  • Rubber flap
  • Screws
  • Sheet metal
  • Paint (optional)

Tools Required

  • Measuring tape
  • Drill
  • Saw
  • Sander
  • Glue

2. The Two Flap Solution

Credited to Gwylan on Instructables, the two-flap solution is a unique design aimed at keeping your home weather-proofed while still providing a convenient entrance and exit for your pooch.

make your own dog door

With two dog door frames secured by magnets, the two-flap design attempts to seal out the elements – the materials used still make it easy for your pooch to see through and move freely through the flaps. 

It can easily be customized and made to look a bit prettier with a few simple tweaks, and you can tailor it to suit your home’s style of door.  

Difficulty Level: Hard

Materials Needed

  • Plywood
  • Plastic sheet
  • Magnets
  • Hinges
  • Dowel
  • Wire
  • Eyebolts
  • Scrap wood
  • Sheet metal
  • Screws
  • Weather-stripping
  • Wood glue
  • Silicone sealant
  • Duct tape
  • Isopropyl alcohol

Tools Required

  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Utility knife
  • Ruler
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Pencil

3. Buildipedia’s Build Your Own Dog Door

If you’re not quite the master craftsman, Builipedia’s Kerry Jones offers a beginner-friendly guide to dog door building. Simple step-by-step instructions to design and build this no-frills plan are the perfect option for the budding builder. 

build your own dog door

With pet safety and human ease in mind, this plan is as straightforward as they come. 

Difficulty: Easy

Materials Needed

  • Rubber or plastic flap
  • Screws
  • Glue
  • Aluminum strip

Tools Required

  • Drill
  • Ruler
  • Sawhorses
  • Jigsaw
  • Sander (and sandpaper)
  • Scissors

4. Naval’s Farm DIY Dog Door video

While this YouTube post by Naval’s Farm doesn’t offer any explicit step-by-step instructions, recreating this homespun dog door should be a snap if you’re the crafty type. Featuring a double flap and magnetic framing for extra protection from the outdoors, it’s as secure as it is functional. 

Dog tested and owner approved, this DIY dog door is affordable, safe, and efficient!

Difficulty: Hard

Materials Needed

  • Plastic flaps
  • Plywood
  • Screws
  • Magnetic and/or aluminum framing

Tools Needed

  • Scissors
  • Jigsaw
  • Drill
  • Ruler

5. Homemade Dog Door

YouTuber Laura Hobbs offers a simple step-by-step tutorial for a dog door made easy. You’ll keep costs low with this homemade hatch, comprised primarily of recycled or pocketbook-friendly materials. 

A primary focus of this plan is letting the pooch in, but keeping unwanted visitors out. With the help of several magnets, the plastic flap snaps closed in a flash and provides a secure seal between your home and the outdoors. 

Difficulty: Moderate

Materials

  • Premade magnetic dog door flap
  • Wood screws
  • Poultry net staples
  • Magnets
  • Metal tracking (from a store-bought shelf)
  • Metal curtain rod
  • Wooden garden stakes
  • 2’X4’ wood plank

Tools

  • Drill
  • Saw
  • Paintbrush
  • Jigsaw
  • Dremel SawMax (or other means of cutting metal)

6. DoItYourself Large Pet Door

Offering detailed instructions for customization and construction, Justin Stewart’s DIY dog door strives to produce the perfect match for your pup. Specifically designed to suit the unique needs of larger pups, this door offers extra amenities like visibility and comfort to your plus-sized pooch. 

custom built dog door

This designer has thought of everything, from brush strips for your personal comfort to advice on tearing your polythene. 

Difficulty: Easy

Materials

  • Adhesive
  • Door flap panel
  • Wood
  • Staples
  • Brush strips
  • Polythene

Tools

  • Drill
  • Grinder
  • Tape measure
  • Jigsaw
  • Staple gun

7. Mother Earth News Homemade Pet Door

Using simple, low cost materials, Mother Earth News offers a crafty solution to your dog door woes. If you’ve got the tools, the remainder of the materials can be purchased for super low prices or derived from scraps already in your home. 

dog diy door

Complete with detailed directions and suggestions for additional improvements, this is an efficient and safe option that works for both you and your pet! 

Difficulty Level: Medium

Materials Needed

  • Car mats
  • Medium-gauge sheet metal
  • Magnetic ribbon
  • Canvas
  • Corner molding
  • Aluminum strip
  • Metal offset clips
  • Masonite or hardboard
  • Panhead wood screws
  • Mastic

Tools Required

  • Drill
  • 1/7”, 1/64”, and ¼” drill bits
  • ¾” hole saw
  • Utility knife
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Keyhole saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Scissors
  • Sandpaper

Dog Door Size: How Big Does Your Dog Door Need to Be?

When sizing up your dog door, you’ll want to avoid the discomfort (and potential humiliation) that comes from making a door that’s too small. On the other hand, a door that’s too big may allow in unwanted, or downright dangerous, critters into your home. 

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As a rule of thumb, the height of the flap should be your dog’s height, from floor to shoulder, plus an inch. That additional inch of clearance is vital to an easy entrance and exit from your pet door, and will avoid unnecessary strain on the back. 

Generally, in terms of width, the same rule applies – an extra inch adds a little extra space in case your pup packs on an extra pound or two.

You’ll also want to make sure that your pet can easily step through the door, and that the hole you’ve cut isn’t too high up. A general measurement is that your pet shouldn’t have to step over more than 1/3 of his height to get through the door. 

If you live in a multi-dog home, you’ll want to make sure that all your dogs’ measurements receive equal consideration. You’ll need to accommodate the widest and tallest for the size of the hole, and the shortest for the height of the door

The Benefits of Dog Doors

It’s important to note that in most cases, your dog shouldn’t have unmitigated access to the outdoors when you’re not home.

Conventional dog fences can have holes, electric fences can break down, and outdoor predators like coyotes can come out of nowhere. 

However, for the times when you are home, a dog door can, quite literally, open up a host of new possibilities for both you and your furry best friend. 

While daily walks and regular attention are, of course, a must, the freedom to go outside on a whim will cut down on the time you spend on bathroom breaks, so you’ll have more time for quality bonding. 

Here are some of the top reasons why you’ll want to consider a dog door:

They Help Combat Boredom

If you have a physical or electric fence, a dog door is a perfect pairing to allow for outdoor recreation on good weather days. From lounging in the sun to exploring the different smells in the yard, outside time is far more interesting for doggos.

Being cooped up inside can contribute to poor behavioral choices and anxiety – a bit of freedom in the outdoors offers a chance to release excess energy and enjoy a change of pace. 

They Provide Convenience

If you work from home, you’re busy with kids, or swamped with household projects, you may not have ample time to stop and take your pooch for a walk around the block at his beckon call.

Dogs sometimes send mixed signals, and sometimes their requests for a bathroom break may be a request to go outside and sunbathe. With a dog door and a properly house-trained dog, you and your pet can get your business done simultaneously, allotting more time for quality bonding.

They Give Your Dog a Means of Quick Escape

Nobody wants to think about it, but house fires and other disasters unfortunately happen. In the unlikely event of a fire, a doggy door provides a quick way out for your pooch that he might not otherwise have. 

Of course, this contradicts the general rule that dogs shouldn’t be given unsupervised outdoor access. But, in some cases, it may be the best option for you and your pooch.

You’ll just have to weigh the risks of allowing your dog outdoor access when you’re not home against the risks fires represent.

custom made dog door

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Dog doors can alleviate a lot of frustration for you and your pup – when you DIY it, you tailor it perfectly to your pooch! Have you made a DIY dog door? Let us know how it went in the comments!

Also check out our guides on how to make a DIY dog run as well as a DIY dog house, if you’re feeling extra handy this month.

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Written by

Nathan Hinds

Nathan Hinds is a professional pilot, writer, and an avid animal lover. He is passionate about animal rescue and is involved in both fundraising and fostering. Nathan is a lifelong resident of St. Louis, MO and is the proud parent of a senior beagle mix named Gilmore, as well as a whole bunch of cats.

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