Dog doors can be a great thing for both dogs and their human companions. They give dogs independence to come and go outside when they want and need to. Getting the right size door and positioning it properly when you install it is critical, though, to prevent injury and make it easy for your dog to use the door. Your dog shouldn't have to squeeze or crouch down to get through the flap. This will cause excess wear and tear on your dog and the door which will decrease the life of the door and could injure your dog.
The best way to determine the right size door for your dog is to MEASURE YOUR DOG!!
- Door Opening Width: Measure the widest part of your dog. Add 1 inch to determine Door Opening Width.
- Door Opening Height: Measure from top of shoulders to underside of chest just behind the front legs. Add 1 inch to determine Door Opening Height.
- Door Opening Top, from ground: Measure from ground to top of your dog’s shoulders. Add 1 inch to determine the height from the ground to the top of the door opening (for installation and positioning).
It can be difficult to directly measure the width and height of your dog with accuracy. Here are a couple of different ways to do that, or at least to confirm your direct measurements.
- Cardboard Test: Using the measurements of a dog door opening that closely match your dog’s direct measurements (from above), draw a rectangle on a piece of cardboard to match those dimensions. Then cut a hole in the cardboard following your drawn line. See if your pet can pass through the hole easily.
- Door Test for Width: Wedge open a regular door in your house to the width of a dog door opening that most closely matches your dog's direct measurements from above. OR, have your dog walk through the door and wedge open the door where he can comfortably pass through. Take that measurement for width.
- Easy Measurements for Door Opening Height: Measure from ground to top of shoulders. Then, measure from ground to the lowest part of your dog’s belly. Subtract the belly number from the shoulder height number. Add 1 inch to get the Door Opening Height.
If you don’t find a door that exactly matches your dog’s measurements, get the bigger size. Always get the bigger size.
Panel Door for Sliding Glass Doors: The installation height of a panel door for a sliding patio door is predetermined. Make sure that the height of the opening plus the "step-over rise" is at least equal to the height of your dog's shoulders.
Your dog door will come with specific installation instructions. Here are a few installation considerations as you think about which door will be best for your dog.
Dogs duck their heads as they push open their door and step through, so ideally you should install the pet door with the top of the opening/flap about an inch above your dog's shoulder height (ground to top of shoulders). The lower the bottom of the door opening, the better (given the ideal placement of the top of the opening). The "step-over rise" should NEVER exceed 1/3 of the dog’s shoulder height (ground to top of shoulders). Pay special attention if your dog is particularly deep-chested or low slung and adjust accordingly.