If you have a large or excitable dog, there is potential for your sliding glass door and the accompanying screen door to be easily broken, scratched, or ruined. There are a few things you can do though to help protect your sliding glass and screen door and make it more pet-friendly.

1. Install a protective layer over glass surfaces.

The first step to minimizing dog damage is to place a guard over top of the glass panels of your sliding door. These are like a tinting film, except instead of darkening your class, they remain clear and protect the glass from scratches. Large dogs or dogs that need to scratch at the door to be let outside will end up permanently scratching your glass. Over time, the scratches will weaken the door and make it more susceptible to breaking. The protective film can be replaced once it is marked up, leaving the glass below unscathed.

If you are installing a new door, talk to the supplier about having the protective layer placed on the door before the door is installed in your home. 

2. Train your dog not to jump on the door.

Some dogs jump or throw their weight against doors in order to get someone to open the door and let them out. With large breeds, like a St. Bernard or full-sized Labrador, the weight of the dog can actually cause the glass in the door to shatter, especially with daily repeated blows. Hurricane and shatter-proof glass can help withstand the force of large, jumping dog, but the only fail-safe way to protect your door is to choose strong glass AND teach your dog different behavior. 

Your dog should not be rewarded for jumping against the door. Scolding the dog but letting him out will still teach him that the door gets opened when he jumps. Instead, you need to show your dog that jumping is not needed, which means you need to open the door before he resorts to jumping. Beat your dog to the door when he needs to go out, showing him that approaching the door yields the same results as jumping. Be there for your dog (such as after a potty trip) to open the door for him when he returns from the outside. Reward the correct behavior with scratching the ears or a small treat. If your dog forgets and resorts to jumping, make contact with the door uncomfortable by jerking the door out from under his paws or by spraying him gently with cool water, as negative reinforcement is sometimes needed. 

3. Choose re-enforced screen options.

Dogs can shred screens easily with their powerful and excited front paws. Door companies now market screens that are pet-friendly—they are much stronger and do not break as easily. You can even replace flimsy screens yourself. However, teaching your dog how to behave at the screen door is still needed, as screens can still weaken over time. 

4. Install a dog door.

Modern dog doors do not have to be the flap version of decades past. Doors can be customized to your dog's size. They can also be insulated and open and close automatically behind your dog so they don't allow heat or cold air to escape, affecting your utility bill. When you install your sliding patio doors, talk to the contractor about fitting the dog door into the design. The sliding door can be framed to incorporate the pet door. After training your dog to use his door instead of your glass door, yours will last ages and remain damage free. 

Just because you have a dog, does not mean you can't enjoy the benefits of a sliding glass door, damage free. Talk to a local door company, such as Solar Shield Windows, about pet-friendly options for your home.