How To Build A Dog House
Many rural and some suburban dog owners believe that their pets fare better, feel better, when outside in a fenced-in yard. They may be right. Outside there are plenty of things to do and see, and romping around in the great outdoors is a great way for a dog to get exercise. One important consideration for such indoor-outdoor hounds is the weather. Wind, rain, and extremes of temperature are unpleasant to endure even for dogs with long shaggy coats. For this reason, it is imperative to provide shelter from the elements, especially if you will not be around to bring your dog back inside at the first sign of climate change. The proverbial dog house is the classical way to provide such safe haven. When designing (or buying) a dog house it is helpful to think like a dog. Imagine what you would appreciate most if you had to spend time inside the structure.
- Size - a dog house should have a roof tall enough to accommodate the dog standing without crouching; long enough that the dog can stand or lie without its nose or rear touching either end; and wide enough for the dog to turn around easily.
- Air conditioning (ventilation) - a good dog house should have fenestrated with apertures that can be opened or closed depending on the weather.
- Flooring - dogs need a comfortable surface on which to lie. While the actual floor may comprise of some sturdy construction material, it is a good idea to place comfortable, waterproof matting on the floor.
- Protection from the elements - to provide maximum wind-break, provide only one back-high entrance (to be positioned away from the prevailing wind). Insulation provides some protection against extreme heat and cold.
- Design - don't be limited by preconceived ideas of what a dog house should look like. Consider a gambrel or salt box design. Feel at liberty to create a larger structure with two or more connecting rooms, if you wish, but remember that dogs - den dwellers at heart - like snug enclosures.
- Materials - make sure construction material is durable, not (easily) chewable, splinterable, or toxic (do not use pressure-treated wood). Material should also be relatively light-weight, impervious, and easily cleanable. Trex® decking is a good material to use for some features of a dog house, floor and roof, if not walls as well. If insulation is vital, walls and roofs can be constructed as a plywood sandwich containing solid foam insulating material. Roofs, rendered waterproof with tarpaper or shingles, should have an overhang to keep water from the walls. All wooden surfaces should be primed and painted to protect them against water damage.
- Dry dock - the floor of the dog house should be elevated on skids so that it doesn't sit in water.
Once built the dog house should be positioned in a shady area, cleaned regularly, and properly maintained. Your dog would thank you for your efforts - if only he could speak - but you may have to settle for a bright-eyed smile and a wagging tail!
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