Dog-Proof Screen Door Solutions: Quick Picks
- Add Screen Grills [Our Pick: Slide-Co Screen Door Grill] Metal grills that attach to the bottom portion of your screen door. Fairly easy to install but not very attractive.
- Install a Screened Doggie Door [Our Pick: PetSafe Pet Screen Door] Install a pet screen doggie door in the bottom portion of your own screen so that your pup can go in and out without scratching at the door.
- Replace Existing Screen With Tougher Screen [Our Pick: Phifer Pet Screen Kit] Tougher screen material may be better at withstanding your dog’s paws and claws.
- Use Magnetic Screen Door Instead [Our Pick: EazyMesh Magnetic Screen Door] Magnetic screen doors allow your dog (and yourself) to easily enter and exit without needing to slide a door back and forth.
Keep reading for more solutions and details!
Screen doors give you a great way to allow fresh air into your home, while still keeping mosquitoes and other unwelcome creatures from coming inside to feast.
But if you have a dog (and I am assuming you do), you know that our beloved pups have a special talent for destroying screened doors.
Thankfully, there are a number of solutions available that will help you protect your screen door from dog-wrought destruction.
Some of these solutions will require nothing more than a few clicks and a credit card, while others will require a little work; but they are all well worth the effort or expense for folks who want some fresh air flow without bugs and critters getting in.
How Do Dogs Damage Screen Windows and Doors?
There are two basic ways in which your precious pup may damage your screened door:
He may scratch at the door, which can rip thin, fabric-based screens or bend the strands from metal screens. Some dogs may do this because they are trying to tell you they want to go inside or outside, while others may do so in response to some sort of irresistible stimuli, like a squirrel or cat running around outside.
Some dogs – particularly those who are easily excited – may not really register that the door is there while hauling tail toward the door. The result is a high-speed collision, an embarrassed dog, and a damaged door. These kinds of high-speed collisions often result in a torn screen and bent (and ultimately useless) frame.
So, the first thing you’ll need to do is identify the way in which your pup is damaging your door and then decide upon a viable solution. There are a number of different ways to address these issues, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different options until you find one that works well.
1. Screen Grills
Screen grills are simply protective coverings, designed to be placed over the lower portion of your screen door. Most attach to the door via a few screws, so you’ll need to break out the cordless drill to install them, but they aren’t especially difficult to mount.
Screen grills are probably the simplest and most effective solution, and most dog owners should probably try these first.
There are a number of options on the market, just be sure to measure your door carefully (and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions) before making the purchase.
Both the Safety 1st Screen Door Saver and the Slide-Co Screen Door Grill are competitively priced, easily installed and well-reviewed options that will probably solve screen-door problems for most dog owners.
2. Visual Barriers
If your dog has a problem crashing into the screen door when excited, you may be able to stop the behavior by making the screen more visible. One way to do so is by attaching pieces of flagging tape to the screen, just like you would do when setting up an invisible fence.
You may also have success by attaching a solid material to a portion of the screen. You don’t need to cover the entire thing (which would eliminate the point of the screen door in the first place), just place the material at your dog’s eye level. This will normally cause him to put on the brakes instead of flying into the screen.
Obviously, you’ll want to use something that is not going to harm your pet. Materials like fabric, cardboard or thin plastic are good choices. You can find cardboard in a million places, but plastic sheeting (like this ABS plastic) is more affordable than you’d think and looks great.
3. Add a Scratch Shield
Some owners don’t mind if their dog goes outside, but they just don’t want the dog to damage the screen when trying to push the door open.
In these cases, a scratch shield may be helpful. Scratch shields are large plastic sheets that attach to the door and protect the portion that dogs scratch the most (the side that opens, beneath the handle).
Scratch shields are usually designed for use on solid doors, but they can also work for screen doors in some cases. The Original CLAWGUARD is probably the leading option in this category, and most customers have been pleased with it.
Additionally, the CLAWGUARD is very easy to install and requires only one tool for installation – a pair of scissors.
If your dog’s nails are problematic, you may also want to make sure that they’re adequately trimmed. While you can’t declaw a dog, maintaining your dog’s nails (and rounding the nails through the use of a grinder) can make a big difference when it comes to protecting your furniture from dog scratches.
4. Install a Screened Doggie Door
If you aren’t afraid of a little work, you can install a screened doggie door to alleviate your pup’s need to scratch.
Screened doggie doors are designed to be installed in the lower section of your screen door, thereby giving your pooch an easy way to get in or out on his own.
It is actually easier to install these doors than you may suspect (and certainly easier than installing a traditional doggie door).
In most cases, you’ll need to cut a hole in the screen and then sandwich the screen around the edge of the hole between the two-piece frame. From there, you’ll simply need to press the frame together tightly, attach the swinging dog door to the frame and you are done.
You’ll need something to cut the screen with (like boxcutter-style knife), but that’s usually the only tool you’ll need.
The PetSafe Pet Screen Door is the best-reviewed option in the category and most owners were very happy with their screened doggie door. A few customers did report that it was necessary to add a few extra screws to keep it securely attached, but this is relatively easy to accomplish.
5. Replace the Standard Screen with Heavy-Duty Screen
If you love your screen door and don’t want to mar it with a grill or pet door, you can actually remove your existing screen and replace it with a heavier-duty variety, which will withstand your dog’s claws with ease.
Replacing the entire screen isn’t the easiest task in the world, but it is well within the capabilities of the average homeowner.
To replace the entire screen, you’ll need to pull out the existing spline (the rubber strip around the edge of the screen that keeps it attached to the door) and remove the old screen.
Then, you’ll trim your new, heavy-duty screen a few inches larger than the door frame and lock it into place by inserting a new spline around the edge.
You can insert spline without any special tools, but it is much easier to spend a couple of bucks on a screen-rolling tool and use that. You can purchase the screen and spline separately, but it is much easier to just buy a kit, such as the Phifer Pet Screen Kit.
6. Replace the Entire Door with a Magnetic Screen Door
One of the easiest solutions for creating a dog-friendly doorway situation is through the use of magnetic screen doors.
These doors consist of a door-sized mesh screen, which splits down the middle, allowing you to pass through. To keep the door closed, long magnetic strips are attached to each half of the split. Yet while these magnetic strips hold the door closed, they’ll easily separate when you or your dog tries to walk through.
The video below shows a nice example of how these magnetic door screen designs work:
There are a few different magnetic screen doors on the market, but you’ll need to be selective if you want to get one that works as intended. Poor-quality versions will feature flimsy mesh that won’t hold up to long-term use and weak magnets, which will fail to keep the door properly closed.
The EazyMesh Magnetic Screen Door is one of the best-reviewed options available, so you should definitely give it consideration. Not only is it reasonably priced, but you won’t need any tools for installation.
7. DIY Screen-Grate Door
Sliding glass doors usually come with a screen door in the same track, but these doors are usually made with very cheap mesh that won’t hold up to even the tiniest dogs. You can replace the screen with heavier-duty mesh as we explained above, but there is also another option.
For the DIY enthusiast, you can make a screen panel that will fit between the edge of your partially opened glass door and the frame. This will still give your home a little fresh air, but it will withstand your dog’s claws. The best way to do so is by using a length of wire shelf as a frame, around which you can attach some heavy-duty screen. Use a needle and heavy-duty thread (or dental floss) to “sew” the screen to the frame.
It’ll end up looking a bit like this:
You’ll have to customize this kind of panel a good bit to get it to work (and remain bug-proof), but with a little ingenuity, you can create a successful solution. Check out this walkthrough from PetHelpful to get started.
Do you have a pet that is determined to destroy your screen door? What kinds of solutions have worked for you? Did you take a do-it-yourself approach or did you just purchase a “plug-and-play” solution?
Let us know all about your experiences in the comments below.
January 9, 2020
Great article with a great content written in it. Please share some more blogs related to Dog-Proof Screen Door Options. A great thanks for this one.
July 31, 2019
This is a great site. Thanks so much for the tips. I have a four month old puppy. His mom is full blooded Collie and dad is full blooded Golden Retriever. So very active and hyper it seems. I am looking at info for doors that he cant ruin and I have seen some good ideas. Major is wearing us down. I didnt expect this when we got him.
July 31, 2019
Glad you found the article helpful, Nettie! Best of luck with Major!
July 13, 2019
I am looking for a dog door to fit in the inside of the wooden frame I currently have. The existing frame has a heavy door which she cannot manage. She is a mini schnauzer. I need some kind of light weight door, or screen, that she can easily manage coming in and going out. Is such an item available?
Please let me know what other information you may need about this.
March 9, 2019
Very informative post. It is very informative post. The tips you have shared in this post is very informative. I would definitely try to follow your tips. Thanks for sharing this information with us.
February 21, 2019
I’m looking for a secure door that will keep dogs out to protect my cats inside a room. I’d like them to be able to see out, but not let the dogs in.
I foster stray kittens and have 3 Newfoundlands.
December 29, 2018
I’m the pet-sitter for three dogs, one of whom is a renowned escape artist, the Anatolian Shepherd. At 150 pounds, he’s too much for me in an argument at the front door. If Mo (Geronimo) sees the least opening in the door and negligence on my part, he darts through, with those wonderful legs taking him to freedom.
For awhile. I have to get my car to retrieve him and there is always the danger of drivers not seeing him. He doesn’t know from cars.
The owners can easily afford to install a heavy-duty glass and screen door at the front door. Right now there is only the wooden door with stained glass ornamentation. If I could open the front door and have the second door very, very securely in place, this would lessen or possibly eliminate my Anatolian’s breaks for freedom. The door would have to withstand his weight if he jumped up and placed his paws on it.
Where might I go for this, please, if you know.
Regards, “Auntie,” Friend of all dogs
December 3, 2018
I am looking for a screen door for the front door that keeps dogs inside and insects outside.
September 26, 2018
Another great option is a retractable screen storm door! They allow you to switch between half-view and full view glass and screen options with ease.
August 22, 2018
i have a serious problem with a dog who belongs to a couple that are not home much….ever however, they own a lab named Stormy. Stormy is afraid of rain, thunder, etc..she hangs out in everybody’s home in my neighborhood in the country. i had a great screen door on one side of my kitchen doors (french) but, Stormy clawed for years for us to let her inside. we did always. she finally tore it up so bad…nothing left. i really want another screen put up but, stormy is still here. i love dogs and have 2 inside but they were trained to just go to the door and stand to “go out”. what in the world can i do? i don’t want stormy to tear up another one..at the same time, i cant let her stay outside afraid of the weather. btw, i know when it’s coming before i see signs of it. she must feel it and my husband or i let her in. HELP PLEASE
August 23, 2018
Hi Lynadonna – sounds like you need to teach Stormy a new way of letting you know she needs to go out. Try teaching her to sit by the door like the other dogs before going out. You may want to consider a doggie doorbell too – we have an article all about those here: https://www.k9ofmine.com/best-dog-doorbells/ Good luck!
July 20, 2018
My 85 lb crazy dog will just push until he opens the bottom of the porch door, causing it to bend up and eventually break. We have the heavy pet screen, but he’s very strong and determined. Any suggestions for a screen door that is heavy enough at the bottom?
June 5, 2018
My boxer sometimes runs full force and smacks the screen door with both feet at the same time to let me know she wants in. Has knocked the glass out on the inside before. Need something to keep her out of the screen but not something she’s going to get her nails or toes stuck in and pulled off when she hits and bounces back. The grill’s with the small holes worry me.
May 29, 2018
All great suggestions but this morning our Alaskan Klee Kai (standard size)just jumped into the sliding screen door until she pushed the entire door out to go chase a jack rabbit. Luckily since she is a runner, we keep her in a harness and practice call and return every day at the dog park or she would have been long gone. So…any suggestions for a ventilated screen that she can’t push out?
May 30, 2018
Hey Susan – we mentioned several options in this article that would work for you. Sounds like you just need something more durable. Try #1, #5, or #7 – good luck!
May 5, 2018
Thank you, all very helpful.