How to Build a Dog House - 5 DIY Experts' Advice

We know that dogs enjoy safe, secure spaces where they can relax away from the threats of weather and other animals. Just like cats, dogs have this desire to “hide” in secure spaces dictated by their primal instincts. Pet parents who want to accommodate this craving for security of their pets may be interested in knowing how to build a dog house as their next DIY project.

Scientists have found evidence long time ago that wild dog relatives, such as wolves and coyotes, make their homes in dens. We've known this since the early age just by watching cartoons. Domestic dogs, on the other hand, often curl up in their dog beds or cozy corners in our houses simply because they don't have any “caves” to retrieve to (most of the time).

However, our pet dogs cannot – and should not – always stay indoors like some domestic house cats.

While it’s not a good idea to leave dogs outside for long periods of time, especially in extreme weather (when it's too cold for dogs, or when it's too hot), high ­energy pups often prefer the outdoors to being cooped up inside.

It's winter time right now, and there are many ways to protect dogs during cold weather, such as getting them best snow booties or a good dog house. Not all pet parents can afford these best dog houses, but many can try to build their own DIY dog house for their beloved pet.

The reason being is that if your dog does go out, he or she will need a shelter of their own to hang out in. A good, sturdy DIY dog house will protect your pet from the elements and help them feel secure. We have previously published a very extensive article on DIY Cold Weather Dog House. This time, let's talk about how to build a dog house in a more general way.

How to Build a Dog House: Best DIY Advice

How to Build a DIY Dog House

There are great pre­-made dog houses available at pet stores, feed stores, and online. We've even researched and made a list of ten best dog houses most pet parents may be able to afford.

However, if you are handy with tools and have some time, building your own DIY dog home can be a rewarding experience that will also save you some cash. You can also custom tailor a DIY dog house to your dog’s specific size and your own particular decorative tastes.

There are a wide variety of patterns, materials, and detail choices circulating online and they range from basic to fancy. A few of the best advice on how to build a dog house are covered below, as well as some advice to consider when starting your own project.

Before we dig into this, I would like to encourage to read a recent interview Top Dog Tips' editor Samantha has done with a dog house manufacturer on how to build a dog house of the best quality: The Importance of A Quality Dog House.

DIY advice on how to build a dog house from the web

How to Build a Dog House as DIY Project
Photo: DIY Network

1By far, the most popular dog house tutorial is this one​ on Ron Hazelton’s home improvement website. The house’s measurements are relative to the size of your dog, which is a great idea (unless your dog isn’t fully grown yet).

Ron's DIY article on how to build a dog house features two rooms, insulated walls, and a slanted roof to keep puddles from collecting and warping the structure. One of the best design elements is the hinged roof, which utilizes a piano hinge, so the house can open up for easy cleaning. The download for the plans is free of charge and step­by­step videos guide DIYers through the building process.

2This ​DIY Network doghouse also has a sloped roof, but it’s designed as an A­frame. The blueprints are a free download on their website and a handy list at the top of the article itemizes the supplies you’ll need to gather before getting to work.

A 14­-minute video on how to build a dog house and multiple photos for each step are included as well, which really help to clarify the various stages of building. The article’s author, John Riha, has thoughtfully added a few tips with regard to choosing dog­-safe materials.

Make sure that any wood you’re using is free of splinters. If it’s pressure-­treated, use it only in areas your dog won’t be able to access, like the dog house base. This house is for small to medium ­size dogs, so you may need to make adjustments for bigger dogs.

3Handcrafted Travellers has instructions for an Earth­-friendly take on housing your​ dog. This one is made from bricks, hay, clay, sand, and manure and is shaped a bit like a teepee. It takes several days to construct due to the drying time of some of the materials, but it blends in nicely with the natural elements in the yard.

The designers, Cheryl and Roland Magyar, suggest that the entrance of your dog’s new home face the entrance of your own, so that your pet doesn’t feel isolated. This will also allow you to keep an eye on your dog. One great thing about this design is that it doesn’t require you to have an armory full of power tools in order to build it.

4Canidae, the pet food company, has a useful article​ on their Responsible Pet​ Ownership Blog. The article covers several guidelines to consider when building a dog house, as well as shopping for one.

Canidae's article on how to build a dog house include using your dog’s indoor crate as a way to gauge the proper size of the house, how to tell how tall the entryway should be, and a caution against placing the house too close to your fence. There are also several suggestions on what to use for bedding inside the house.

5An article​ by Larry Mueller on Outdoor Life presents plans for another dog house, with a few different additions. This doggy house has a flat roof that fits by way of a collar and hook ­and eye latches for easy removal. It’s also got a porch where your dog can hang out, off of the ground.

As an added caution for dog safety, the instructions call for covering gaps that might encourage chewing. In order to keep moisture from condensing on the inside of the dog house, Mueller suggests painting only on the outside. In the winter, collected moisture can make the inside of the house clammy and uncomfortable as well as causing potential mold issues.

More advice on how to build a dog DIY house

If the above articles haven’t inspired you to go out and gather some two-­by­-fours, here are a few more clever designs:

  • Jörgen Börg’s​ video shows how he built an adorable log­ cabin style chalet for dogs that has wooden shingles and some neat details at the peak of the roof.
  • Skaie Knox has collected several cute dog houses on Home Jelly, that include one with a green roof and another that’s a house within a house.
  • This set of plans​ on DIY Cozy Home has a covered porch and a raised platform with food and water bowls nested inside.

General tips on how to build a dog house of your own

How to Build a DIY Dog House for Dogs

To make any DIY dog house a success, there are some general tips that most DIYers and crafters have recommended, both with an eye to dog safety as well as architectural allure.

If you live in a latitude that sees snowy winters, make sure the roof of the dog house is sloped so that snow will slide harmlessly to the ground instead of building up pressure and warping the wood.

Use screws and nails meant for outdoor projects, made of materials designed to withstand the elements.

Make sure screws and nails don’t poke through from the outside of the house into the interior since they can represent safety hazards to your dog.

Ensure the dog house is large enough for your dog to enter, turn around, and lay down in.

Some designers suggest adding a vent at the peak of the roof to increase airflow and cut down on condensation.

Help your dog get used to his or her new outdoor home before he or she is caught outside by the weather and must seek shelter. Your dog needs to know that they have permission to enter it. Encouraging your dog with treats and gentle praise will let them know you approve.

When adding the finishing touches, use only low VOC paint or stain and give it a few days to dry. VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compound, which can cause an array of serious health problems. Learn more about VOCs here.

With a few tools, some careful attention to detail, and a little inspiration, anyone can build a simple shelter for their four ­legged friends. Taking the time to review directions carefully and make a list of the necessary materials beforehand will help construction run smoothly. Who knows, maybe once you’ve tackled one outdoor project, you’ll want to move on to a backyard shed!

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