How to Build a Dog House

Dog kennel

Anyone can build a kennel for their dog with the right tips.

Does your dog spend a lot of time in the garden and you would like to give it a weatherproof kennel? If you have some skills with hammers, nails and the like, you can build a dog house yourself.

Why dogs need kennels/dog houses

A dog kennel is a good idea if your dog regularly spends long periods in the garden or running free on your property. If you spend a lot of time in the garden from spring to autumn, you can offer your dog a cosy retreat with a kennel. 

Owners who let their dog guard a fenced garden in their absence should provide their four-legged friend with a kennel as protection from the wind and rain.

What type of wood do you need to build a dog house?

An outdoor dog kennel should be robust and durable. Material plays a crucial role in building a weather-resistant dog kennel. Tip: Stainless steel screws are weatherproof! We also recommend the following types of wood: 

Larch wood for dog kennels

Larch has a high resin content and is therefore weather-resistant. So it’s no surprise that a lot of garden furniture for pets is made from larch wood. This is our favourite for building a dog house. However, it is slightly more expensive compared to other types of wood. 

Spruce wood for dog kennels

Spruce wood has several advantages: It is light, flexible and – treated with natural wood preservatives – relatively durable. It is also cheaper than larch wood. 

Pinewood for dog kennels

Pinewood is considered an all-rounder – and the cheapest option. For instance, many garden fences are made from pinewood. Impregnated pinewood (thermopine) is suitable for outdoor areas in particular. 

Dog kennel: What size is right for my dog?

Anyone who thinks “as big as possible” isn’t doing their dog a favour – at least not in winter. The kennel offers less protection from the cold because it is too big. 

Measure your dog in order to find the ideal proportions. Note the following: Shoulder height and length from the snout to the base of the tail. Then estimate how much space your dog needs to turn around.

Now add around 20 percent to each of the obtained measurements. This rule of thumb gives you the height, width and depth of your dog kennel in order to calculate the required material. 

How big does the entrance of a dog kennel need to be?

Measure your pet’s shoulder height too for the calculation. The door opening should ideally be 0.8 times as high as your dog’s shoulder height. 

Getting started: Building your own dog kennel

There are several building instructions for dog kennels. You’re best off looking beforehand at as many dog kennels as possible and considering which characteristics you like best. Can you implement them with your DIY skills? Then let’s get started! Sketch a construction plan and buy the required materials at a hardware store. 

Check too that you have all the necessary tools to hand. These include, for instance, a drill, screwdriver and try square. You also need a saw to cut out the entrance. 

Building your own dog kennel: The most important tips

The floor of the dog kennel

A base plate at a distance from the ground is practical. You can use clever combinations, such as a pallet as a floor placed on some flat stones. This gives the kennel some distance from the ground so it doesn’t cool down as quickly. 

The side walls of the dog kennel

The side, front and back walls of the dog kennel are made of wooden slats or boards – apart from a homemade pallet construction – more on this soon. 

First of all, carefully screw together the floor and side parts. Any inaccuracies can lead to the kennel becoming unstable. You’re best off drilling all holes beforehand to prevent the wood from splitting. Stapling isn’t the best solution since the wood is used outside. 

If the kennel is used in winter, it’s recommended to line two layers of the side walls inside with polystyrene. This provides good insulation but cannot be eaten by your dog. 

Building your own dog kennel roof

Flat or pointed roof? It’s your choice! Of course your DIY skills also play a role here. A flat roof is obviously easier to build. 

There are several options regarding material. You can make the roof from wooden slats, corrugated iron or roofing felt. Of course it’s hugely important that the roof is rainproof. This is particularly true of unprotected free-standing dog kennels. 

Building your own dog kennel from pallets

Building a dog kennel from pallets can make the job easier! Disposable pallets are suitable since they are usually smaller than the standard euro pallets. As the name suggests, disposable pallets are usually cheap to procure because there is no deposit on them. 

Building a dog kennel from disposable pallets is also somewhat quicker, because pallets form a good framework. However, check before construction whether any leftover nails or staples are hanging in the pallets. 

Children helping to build a dog kennel © Ilike /
Building a dog kennel can be great fun for children too – but remember to supervise them and keep dangerous equipment out of reach.

The last step: Waterproofing the homemade kennel

Whether they’re made from wooden slats, pallets or a skilful combination of the two, waterproofing protects dog kennels from discolouration. Make sure the product used isn’t toxic for pets. 

Linseed oil can offer sufficient protection depending on the type of wood. Waterproof colours are also possible. It is best to seek advice at the hardware store as to which waterproofing option is best suited to your chosen wood. If you use a colour, you should sand down the dog kennel beforehand. 

Important: Check right at the end that there are no sharp edges or screws sticking out on which your dog could injure itself. 

Insulating wooden dog kennels

Dogs that spend plenty of time in the garden in winter need a warm, dry shelter. It’s possible to install insulation in advance with polystyrene in the side walls, like with a sandwich biscuit. 

What else can you do to get a warm dog kennel? Warm straw or cosy dog mats are suitable for the floor in winter. Heat Pads are particularly popular. 

Another reminder: It’s particularly important in winter for the dog kennel to have some distance from the ground. 

Find more ideas on garden design in the following magazine articles: Building a garden pond and How can we help wild hedgehogs in our gardens? Read our 10 tips.

Alternative: Buying dog kennels

You should only build your own dog kennel if you enjoy DIY. Depending on your ability and the design of the kennel, building it yourself can take between five hours and up to three working days. The material costs are in addition to this. 

Would you prefer to buy your dog kennel ready-made instead? No problem! There are several different models for dogs of different sizes on the zooplus online store.

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