How to Install a Dog Door in Sliding Patio Doors

A pet panel dog door keeps Cotton from christening the polyvinyl chloride.
le chien blanc image by Francis Lempérière from

Opening and closing a door for your dog every time he needs to go out to potty can be impractical -- maybe you've found that out. A dog door is a convenience that gives your dog the freedom to go out to the patio or yard when necessary, without your help. If your home has a sliding patio door, you can forgo the traditional door or wall installation by inserting a ready-made spring-tension-panel dog door into the sliding patio door frame. The panel, which has a dog-size opening and flap at the bottom, fits securely in the patio door track, so no alteration or fabrication is necessary. Such panels are available in multiple patio-door and dog-panel sizes at pet stores and some general merchandise stores.

Step 1

Measure your pet first so you can purchase the appropriate door size for your pet's width and height. The opening of the dog door flap should be 2 inches wider than your pet at his widest point. The height of the dog door flap should be 2 inches taller than your dog's measurement from the top of his shoulders to his chest, according to

Step 2

Measure the height of your sliding patio door installation. Place the tape at the lowest point inside the lower track, then measure to the highest point inside the upper track. Standard sliding patio doors range from 76 inches to 96 inches in height. If your patio door size does not fit within the standard range, you'll need to have a panel customized to your specifications -- which might be cost-prohibitive.

Step 3

Determine the placement of the dog door panel. Choose between installing the panel in the glass track -- so that the dog door is flush against the doorjamb and the sliding patio door opens and closes against the stationary pet door -- or installing it in the outer screen track. A spring-loaded panel pet door works best in the screen track and may be preferable during warm days or evenings when you can keep the glass door open. It's also the easiest to install, according to

Step 4

Don your safety glasses. Open the sliding patio door. Stand the dog door panel upright. Press down firmly on the tension height adjuster at the top of the door. Alternatively, release the height adjusters by turning the knobs at the top of the panel counterclockwise. Lift the panel up and into the top track of the sliding patio door. Lift upward and swing the bottom of the door into the lower track of the sliding glass door frame. Slide the dog door panel flush against the doorjamb.

Step 5

Fasten the panel into the track with a screwdriver and supplied sheet metal screws if you want the door to be semipermanent and lockable. Drill a hole into the side of the adjacent sliding patio door. Insert the pin lock. Slide the patio door flush against the pet panel, then turn the lock. The lock on the pet door couples with the bracket on the sliding patio door to create a secure connection.


  • Use a broomstick in your sliding patio door to avoid having to drill holes for the lock.

Items You Will Need

  • Tape measure
  • Spring-load dog door panel
  • Safety glasses
  • Drill
  • Drill bit


About the Author

Elle Smith has been an advertising professional for more than 25 years. Her work for ABC, CBS and Sony Pictures Television has appeared on radio, on air, in print and outdoors. In addition, Smith has more than 20 years experience in marketing, graphic arts, commercial photography and print production, and is a licensed real estate agent with property management certification in California.

Photo Credits

  • le chien blanc image by Francis Lempérière from