Sunday, August 23, 2015

Dog House Project

 Replacing Dog Houses

 Every dog in the kennel has his or her own house to provide protection from inclement weather. They are simple structures, but important for the health and well being of the dogs. Over the years our dog houses have taken a beating, and it reached a point where we were performing so many repairs to the houses that it made more sense to just replace them.

 An 'extra' week at work netted enough money to replace nearly all the dog houses in the kennel. The design we use is popular among dog mushers. Most of our dogs spend more time on top of their houses rather than in them, so the flat roof gives them a surface where they lie in the sun or sit and look over their realm. They are large enough for the dog to fit, but small enough to retain body heat. The door is off set to one side to provide better protection from wind. A deep threshold makes it easier to contain a thick bed of straw in each house, and the frame around the door help prevents chewing and wear and tear from chains dragging in and out as the dog goes about his or her daily business.

It's a simple and straightforward design, basically a rectangular box on legs. Each house requires only a single sheet of plywood, a ten foot 2 X 4, two eight foot 2X2s and about half a pound of #8 inch and a half rock screws.

The first step of the project was acquiring materials, which of course necessitated a trip to town.

Enough material for 20 dog houses

The second step was to measure, mark, and cut out the panels needed to construct the houses and to build a prototype. In doing so I learned the legs called for in the plan I was using were two short, only 27 inches. By making the legs 32" the house sits higher reducing the amount of snow that can blow or be dragged into the door. Much of the rest of the day was spent cutting out the panels. I just stacked them in in rows, with the parts organized based on the order of assembly. It took me most of a day to cut the panels from all 20 sheets of plywood.

Plywood panels stacked in order of assembly

The third step was to cut out all the small parts needed. Each house needs 4 legs, 32 inches long. It needs furring strips cut for all 8 edges and all 4 edges of the roof. Even though I was using a chop saw I was surprised that it took me about 5 hours to cut and stack the small parts. Again, I stacked them in the order of assembly to keep things reasonably well organized.

Legs and nailing strips were chopped and then stacked in the order of assembly

The actual assembly of the houses was the most time consuming part of the job. It was a step by step process, with each dog house requiring about an hour to assemble.

1 - Cut out the hole for the door. I used a combination of a circular saw and a jig saw to do that.

2 - Screw the door frame into place.

3 - Flip over the front piece and screw two legs into place.

4 - Screw two furring strips onto the top and bottom edges of the front panel.

5 - Screw two legs into place on the back panel.

6 - Screw two furring strips onto the top and bottom edges of the back panel.

7 - Screw the two end panels onto the back panel.

8 - Screw the front panel onto the end panels.

9 - Screw furring strips onto the top and bottom of the end panels.

10 - Cut out the corners of the floor to clear the 2 X 4 legs, and drop the floor into the box. (Don't fasten it down, it needs to be removable for seasonal cleaning.)

11 - Screw furring strips onto all four edges of the roof.

12 - Screw the roof to the top edges of the house.

Assembled houses stacked under cover, awaiting paint.

The final step is to paint each house. I used non-toxic latex exterior house paint left over from earlier projects. We had just enough leftover paint to cover all 20 of the new houses. The cobalt blue was from the dog trailer project two years ago, and the lighter blue from repainting the trim of our house earlier this summer.

Painted houses lined up while the paint dried.


  1. Swanny why not close in the legs to trap heat in the winter? Jeff

  2. Hi Jeff. If we completely close the legs the edges of the wood get hung up on high spots in the ground, making the houses tippy. By the time heat retention becomes an issue we have more than deep enough snow to seal the gap, so it becomes something of a moot point.

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  4. do you insulate your dog houses or just leave them as built?

  5. Hi Swanny, where can I find the plans for this house? This is perfect for our rescue husky we are adopting.

  6. You can download the plan from Sled Dog Central at

    The plan describes material needs for 10 dog houses. Just divide their numbers by 10 and you'll be set for a single house.


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  8. Great resource. Just finished one from your plans for my dog.

  9. It is a fantastic post – immense clear and easy to understand. I am also holding out for the sharks too that made me laugh. Labs North Carolina