Articles about DIY

 

 

Dog Houses For the Beginning Do-it-Yourselfer

by Damien Andrews

In the early 1970's, when I struck out on my own in the construction trades, times were hard – at least for me they were. I tried contracting out for framing, roofing, interior build out, and too many other things to mention. Those were my day jobs. To make ends meet, I also worked at night in my tiny garage workshop, or on-site for individuals instead of contractors. One of the things I did in my workshop back then was build custom dog houses for people. There wasn't much money in it, but I really enjoyed building them, and every dime I could corral back then was critical – so I did it. Building custom dog houses for people led to building play houses for kids, which I naturally always did on-site – many times after dark. Today, I still contract out on occasion to build a play house from the ground up, but I haven't started from scratch on a dog house since the mid 1990's. It's too labor-intensive, and most folks don't want to pay those costs.

If you're an intermediate to advanced do-it-yourselfer and you want to build your own dog house, then you'll first need a plan. You can find a few sets of free dog house plans on the Internet. Dog house plans are also common in many of the books of plans you can buy. The advantages to getting well done plans for an already designed dog house are a) you get a parts list that makes shopping for parts easier and b) you'll avoid some common pitfalls in construction. After all, a dog house is really a small house, and as such it will require framing, walls, roofing, flooring, and more if you're taking the decorative or ornate route.

If you decide to design your own dog house and create your own set of plans, a couple of things to remember are: don't have any protrusions on the floor of the house • be sure to design the outside bottom of the dog house so that it can easily be leveled • don't allow any nail heads or screw tips to poke through the roof of your dog house • don't allow any nail heads or screw tips to poke through the walls of your dog house • if you're going to paint the interior of your dog house, then be sure that the paint is tough enough for that duty, and also non-toxic to pets • don't have any sharp edges in your design, especially where the dog enters the house • keep the entrance of your dog house as small as is reasonable for the size of your dog. A smaller door prevents excess drafts.

 

For the beginning do-it-yourselfer there are some superb options to getting (or creating) dog house plans and starting from scratch. Today, you can buy custom made dog houses that are practically already assembled – and all you'll need are a few basic tools and an hour or two and you'll have a magnificent house for your family's canine. Like any self respecting do-it-yourselfer, you'll naturally want to add your own special touches to the completed dog house, and that's no problem with the better quality, prefabricated custom wooden dog houses available today.

There are several advantages to buying a prefabricated dog house. Some of them, for example, can be assembled and ready for occupancy in less than an hour. You won't have any wasted lumber or hardware. You won't be confronted by any nightmarish (and often quite costly in time and money) construction errors such as short walls, bad roof pitch, out of square, etc.

Here are a few simple tips to make the assembly of your prefabricated dog house easier and more pleasant. Read the plans for your selected dog house all the way through before beginning your assembly process. As you read the plans, sort the major pieces: the walls, the roofing, the floor, etc. Sort your hardware out on a large, flat surface – and keep a small measuring device handy! Sometimes the only difference between parts is their length of the diameter of their head. I keep a 6" metal ruler marked at 1/16" increments on the table – it can be a real time saver. Often, a wrong part, usually too long or two short, will fit for the first application, but later, when you're further along in building the dog house, you'll find that the other, similar part won't work. It's at that point that you must disassemble the already partially assembled dog house and start again. (If that happens, keep it to yourself – your do-it-yourselfer cohorts will never stop hassling you if you tell them.) The most important tip I can give you, since these dog houses are wood: NEVER FULLY TIGHTEN ANYTHING UNTIL IT IS NECESSARY. You don't want to strip out screw holes, and when screwing into wood, the first time is the strongest time! If you should happen to strip a screw hole out, refer to this article.

The Bungalow Dog House

The Bungalow Dog House

For the smaller dog, this house features four cedar walls, a shaded window, and a front porch. External Dimensions: 22" x 20" x 22" High • Internal Dimensions: 17" x 15" x 18" High.

Spend all the time necessary to really get your dog house nice and level. Sleeping on an angle is not conducive to a good rest. If you've ever been camping and put your tent on a slight slope, you know what I mean. It will also ensure proper watershed from the roof, and front porch if your model of dog house has one. I have had the best luck setting the correct number of solid, 2" thick concrete blocks in the positions required, and then leveling them. Then I sit the dog house atop the blocks. Some dog house designs only require four concrete blocks, while others require 6-8. No matter the count, it's easier to shift and level the concrete blocks than it is to continuously move the dog house as you are leveling it. I use a 4' level for this project, and a narrow trenching shovel to get the blocks right. Set the blocks properly and you'll have room to slightly shift the dog house's position once it's atop them. Another advantage to this approach is that the dog house is slightly elevated. That makes it easier to clean under, and also discourages bugs and other, larger critters from setting up house beneath the floor.

You'll probably want to build your dog house very close to where it will be finally installed. The assembled dog house will be awkward to move a great distance. If you do opt to build it in your shop and carry it out back, or to its final destination, make sure that any gates will be wide enough to accommodate the move. Some dog house designs can be moved on a hand truck – but be careful not to torque the house improperly. Structures are not usually designed to be moved – including your house. If you were to pick up a well made house by the edges of the roof or foundation, you'd be in for some serious torque-created problems.

The Room with a View Dog House

The Room with a View Dog House

For smaller canine friends, this dog house features cedar construction, a raised floor design and stairs leading to a rooftop getaway. Your dog will be 'king of the hill' with this dog house. External Dimensions: 21" x W 29" x H 26" High • Internal Dimensions 18" x W 18" x H 14" High.

Face the entrance to your dog house away from the predominate winds in your area. Of course this is not necessary if you have lots of wind blocking vegetation in the right places, or your house will block the wind. The point being, you don't want your new dog house to be drafty.

The Chalet Dog House

The Chalet Dog House

This unusually styled dog house uses cedar boards to gently arc from ceiling to walls. The gentle curved lines are also extended to the front porch covering. The porch even has solid, detailed rails. External Dimensions: 45" x W 27" x H 35" High • Internal Dimensions: 25" x W 23" x H 28" Porch External Dimensions: 16" x 27" x 14" • Internal Dimensions: 16" x 23" high.

All dogs will tend to spend their time in the back of the dog house, not the front. Many dogs will also lie down in the house with their front paws in the entrance – watching their surroundings – their domain. But when it's time for sleep, they move to the back. They seem to like the security of the back corners – walls all around and a roof. That way, they only have to 'guard' one entrance. This seems to make them very comfortable. Dogs become very attached to well designed, well placed dog houses.

The Barn Dog House

The Barn Dog House

Your family's pet will be the envy of the neighborhood with this spacious, beautifully designed dog house featuring a covered porch and raised construction – for easy leveling! The window can easily be closed off to control ventilation. External Dimensions: 39" x 47" x 35" High • Internal Dimensions: 32" x 36" x 33" High • Porch External Dimensions: 29" x 39" x 33" High • Porch Internal Dimensions: 20" x 35" x 31" High.

I am a dog lover, and have really never been without one. I currently have a great German Shepherd Dog that flew all the way from Germany to eat my wife's favorite pair of shoes. That monopolized dinner table conversation for almost a week! But now they're fast friends, and he is a deeply loved member of the family. I know – you are reading this article so that you can build a dog house, not read about my pets. But there's a point here that I'm working up to: I have never seen a dog house that I think has really good ventilation. This includes all prefabricated dog houses and those designed and built by do-it-yourselfers and professionals alike. I have seen some dog houses with ventilation, but it is always lacking one way or the other. There's a pretty easy fix for this, at least with the wooden dog houses.

The Mansion Dog House

The Mansion Dog House

From the spacious, lattice work enclosed front porch to the chimney appointment, everything about this dog house says style and comfort. There is also a louvered window, not shown here. External Dimensions: 48" x 47" x 39" High • Internal Dimensions: 39" x 40" x 35" High • Porch External Dimensions: 33" x 42" x 19" High • Internal Dimensions: 32" x 39" High.

Good dog house ventilation requires adequate openings for good circulation, but it also requires that those be controllable. In the summer you'll want full ventilation, but in the winter you'll want to seal the vents and reduce air flow through the dog house. This will help keep it cool in the summer, and warm in the winter. All you'll need to get to create really good ventilation in a wooden dog house is a 1" drill bit and some 1" plastic cap inserts/plugs – like those you see in the ends of mailing tubes. They fit inside the 1" holes you'll drill. I can't really tell you how many vents to create as it will depend on the weather in your area. In warmer climates, you'll need more ventilation in your dog house. Drill the 1" holes from the outside of the dog house, and place them under the roof overhang. Angle the drill bit slightly upwards as you drill. This will prevent any drops of water that blow in on the lip of the hole from going into the dog house during storms. When winter arrives, simply stick the plastic plugs into the holes so that they're flush with the outside. If you can't find plastic plugs in the color you want, get some spray paint for plastic in the right color. If you have insect problems with the vents, stick a fitted piece of 1/8" hardware cloth on the inside of the holes with caulk. You can also staple, but finish off by putting caulk over all the outer edges. This will eliminate any possible injuries caused by sharp wire edges.

 

Whether you decide to do your own dog house designs and plans or assemble and customize a prefabricated dog house doesn't really matter. There's always something very satisfying about building a dog house. And think of how much happier your family's pet will be with their very own draft-free, perfectly level space for relaxing, sleeping, and dreaming of chasing plump, slow rabbits.

Large Dog House Porch

Large Dog House Porch

Built rock-solid from logs and half logs, this roomy dog house porch can be set out in front of almost any dog house, but looks best with the offerings presented here. It also makes a superb raised bed area – both indoors and out. If you have a swimming pool, place it near so you’re your dog can be around the family, while not getting wet on the ground. Exterior Dimensions: 22" x 28" x 12" High.

 

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