The dog locked the door from inside? (Step by step instruction)

Most apartment doors in the United States have 2 deadbolts – one that can be unlocked from outside with a key, and one from inside the apartment for extra security when you’re in it. While you are away from home for a long period of time, pets might experience separation anxiety and big dogs can easily lock the interior deadbolt.

If you are being locked out by your dog there are two things you can do if it is an apartment that has one entry door and no access from the patio:

First, find a screwdriver or some metal stick that you can use to enlarge the gap between the door and frame. That way you can locate the latch that was moved by your dog, then with either a flathead screwdriver or knife try to scratch the latch back into the door. There is a chance that the pet did not lock the hidden deadbolt all the way in, however, if the deadbolt is locked all the way inside then you cannot scratch the latch due to the deadbolt mechanism.

The second option is to locate the hidden deadbolt and make a hole from outside then unlock it using a Phillips screwdriver.

How to unlock a deadbolt that is locked from inside by your dog?

As briefly mentioned above, first you need to try with anything long and a thin to see if a deadbolt was locked partially. If that doesn’t work then you will have to drill a hole in order to reach a tailpiece that you need to turn to unlock it.

Drilled door to reach a deadbolt locked inside

Picture above is a demonstration of a drilled hole. Not sure if a reader can differentiate, but there is a round tailpiece right behind the hole. When you apply Phillips screwdriver and turn in left, the tailpiece would move the latch and unlock the door.

Locate the latch by taking a look on a deadbolt that you can actually open with a key in your hand. The center will be a keyhole (where you put a key). Then make a straight line using a pen or pomade if you have one. Straight line needs to meet with a latch (you can find it by pushing apart the door and frame). Finally, make a circle right on the intersection of straight line and horizontal line coming from a latch

Get a drill and drill bits. This all scenarios are described if you want to unlock the door yourself. Otherwise, locksmith would help you as well. So, if any store like homedepot or lowes are open at a time of lockout, then go get any drill with any drill bits for metal and drill the circle as in picture.

Since we are discussing about drill, you might one to get this one for future lock installations or drilling a hole in the wall for the portraits –

Patch the hole. There are many tutorials on how to patch either wall hole or front door hole. Find the color and patch it. You still may want to inform leasing office on this matter. Maintanence might patch better and maybe with no cost.


I am Rauan, I have over 4 years of experience as a locksmith tech and then as the owner of my own company. I live in Houston, TX, and love to provide valuable insights related to locks. Enjoy reading

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