PetSafe Aluminum Dog Door Install Project

Lea Jaratz

My Doggy daddy and I have been debating getting a dog door for a while, to help out when we're held late at work or gone for a long day. After some researching the variations (electronic, locking, insulated, etc) we decided to go with the good old fashioned flap style PetSafe Aluminum Dog Door. Cheap, durable, no batteries to replace, no extra collar attachments to be worn.

First off, select the door sized to accommodate your dog's chest at the widest place. We picked up the large to fit Tahlula. To be safe, we took it out of the box and had both dogs step through it once before installing. It was a close fit, but good enough.

Installation isn't too hard, so long as you have the tools. The package includes a template that you can center and tape on your door. Mark your corners, drill some holes, and use your jigsaw to cut the rectangle out. (Optional: have your Shepherd mix supervise the entire operation, as shown right.) The cutting and cleaning up uneven edges took about 40 minutes.

Then, you drill holes for the frame screws. Again, not hard with the right tools. Line the interior and exterior frame segments up, finish tightening the screws, and you're done!

As I was watching the door go in, I pondered some security issues that the PetSafe people obviously covered. The screws are on the inside, so the door cannot be removed from the outside. There is also an aluminum shield that can be dropped down as an insert on the inside, to lock the door from the inside, for additional security.

Now, to train your dogs to use the door:

Step 1. Go outside with a cookie. Stick your hand back through the flap, and show your dog the cookie.

Step 2: Once the dog goes for the cookie, lead them through the door to follow the cookie. Where the cookie goes, the dog will follow.

Note to dogs: The dog door will only fit one pup at a time. Don't rush, there are plenty of cookies for everyone.

Potential downsides to some dog doors:

  • Without any remote device to identify my dogs, any cat, dog, raccoon or bird could come in my back door. So far, no unwelcome visitors, but if you're in an area with lots of wildlife, you might want to upgrade to something like the PetSafe SmartDoor.
  • My dogs can go in and out as they please, which is ideal for purposes of potty time, bird watching, and greeting the neighbor. But, it also means they are free to chase the skunk that wanders into our yard or bark at the cable guy working next door. If your dogs have little self-control with such temptations, the dog door may not work for you.

Read our other reviews of PetSafe products: