While many people assume their pets don’t need shelter outside or think that the dog will mostly stay inside, the reality is that every dog needs a dog house. This gives the pet shade and shelter from the elements if left outside, whether through the day or overnight. It gives pets a place to retreat or take shelter when other animals intrude in the yard. It also lets pets feel like they have their own special territory to do with as they please, while giving owners a place to send the animal if it is too unruly or ill to stay inside. Here are a few tips on how to choose the perfect dog house.
Size Up Your Pet
We’ve all seen the sitcoms where the owners buy a dog house only to find the dog cannot get inside the door. That’s the obvious case of the dog house being too small. To avoid problems like this, determine the actual size of your pet and the space it needs. Note that if you’re looking for a dog house for a puppy, make the selection based on the expected adult size of the animal, not how big the puppy is now.
The ideal dog house is large enough that your pet can comfortably turn around inside and stand up in without hitting the roof. Don’t assume that the bottom of the dog house needs to be based on the size of a pet bed, since the dog may be laying on a pet bed it’s had since puppy-hood out of habit while being too large for it. Have your dog lie down and then measure how large a space it is taking up. You don’t want to use measurements based on a dog curled up, since the dog should have more space than this – and the dog will need more space than that while turning around to get comfortably curled up. Bigger isn’t necessarily better; dogs feel more comfortable in a dog house somewhat larger than themselves, not a dog house that feels as spacious humans want their own homes to be.
The size of the dog door should be at least the three-quarters of their shoulder height. Larger and wider doors are an option, but this reduces the heat retention of the dog house in the winter.
Another factor to consider is weight, especially if the dog house has an elevated floor. Don’t put a dog in a dog house rated for a lighter animal. If the dog house lacks a floor and sits on the bare ground, this is a moot point. However, you may want a solid floor to prevent the dog from digging into the ground and burying things inside the dog house.
Pre-Made Versus Kits Versus Home Built
The downside of pre-made dog houses are how few pet stores sell them, but the upside for owners are how many choices you have at the retailers that offer them and the convenience of just buying it, hauling it home and putting it in the yard. You could buy a Dogloo Indigo dog house, put it under the tree where the dog likes to rest and be done with it. Depending on the retailer, you may be able to arrange for the pre-made dog house to be delivered to your home.
Home built dog houses should only be taken on by do-it-yourselfers who have the right dimensions and skills to make the dog house your pet needs. Dog house kits try to offer a compromise, selling you all the parts you need to build a dog house to build something per a pre-planned design. The downsides to kits include the labor that you have to invest, the quality of work depends on your skills and the risk that if you don’t properly account for the dimensions, you may build it and find out that it doesn’t fit your pet. One of the few benefits of these kits is that you can find them in pet stores that don’t sell fully assembled dog houses since kits take up far less space than assembled dog houses.
Another benefit of kits and pre-made dog houses are the little design elements that extend the life of the dog house, whether it takes the form of metal frames around the door to prevent chewing, rust-resistant finish on metal frames, or more durable materials than what you might find at the hardware store. Pre-made components in kits or pre-built dog houses are also more likely to have built in insulation, a critical feature if you want to leave your dog outside during the winter. Cheap plastic dog houses, though, typically lack any insulation unless you pay for the more expensive ones.
Conversely, the upscale pre-made dog houses may have built in heater boxes to save the do it yourselfer from having to figure out how to safely install a heater in a dog house that doesn’t accidentally burn the dog or burn down the dog house. This is an equal hazard when heaters are involved, whether you have a wooden dog house or a plastic one.
Wooden dog houses are made from cheap materials, but they are a nightmare if your area is infested with wood eating insects. Plastic dog houses, especially those with a square or blocky design, are prone to being buffeted by the winds.
Boxy dog houses are cheap to make or buy, and you can use the top of the dog house as a work surface while the pet may be able to use it as a perch. Igloo shaped plastic dog houses are more stable when the winds whip up, and the design sheds snow and debris as well. Dog houses with peaked roofs may meet local building codes or homeowners’ association rules while shedding snow and leaves. The shape of the dog house is irrelevant to the degree of ventilation – you should put in roof top ventilation no matter what shape the dog house takes.
The benefit of kits or pre-made dog houses is that they usually have that literally built into the design. Be careful of those cute pre-made dog houses that look like playhouses with faux windows on the outside – make sure they actually provide ventilation or that there are other ventilation holes in the dog house to prevent your dog from overheating in the summer.
Pre-built dog houses are often made from materials that resist bacteria, reducing the smell that we associate with dog houses. They are typically easier to clean of animal vomit and feces, as well. Be careful with pads that may be built into pre-made dog houses, since they may be hard to get out and clean and expensive to replace.
Interior wind walls are only found in pre-built dog houses or kits, though the benefit of them depends on how much time the dog spends outside and your climate. This is either something you have to build or pay extra for in a dog house.
Keep these tips in mind and you should come away with the perfect dog house!