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Build a Great Dog House or Kennel
Not every one of man's best friends appreciates the snow. Or the cold. Or the rain. Or the severe midday sun of August. So, if you want to make things a bit more pleasant for your canine companion, there are a number of important things to remember as you build a great outdoor doghouse or kennel.
First, and foremost, of course, is that your dog or puppy be properly sheltered from the elements. So you should build its doghouse of sufficiently strong and durable exterior materials. The most cost effective and easily workable materials are plywood and simple framing lumber, of course. If you are a bit handy, you might also want to make use of cement-fiber hardboard, or felt building paper, or shingles, or other such building materials.
To the greatest extent possible, assemble the doghouse using wood screws and glue, as opposed to just nails or construction staples. You’ll find that the finished product will hold its shape for far longer, with less warping, gapping or splitting. When the basic assembly is completed, be sure that all finish surfaces are properly sanded, sealed, caulked and stained or painted. You don’t want your pet suffering from exposed ragged edges, splinters or projecting nails, nor do you want a doghouse exterior that easily gathers dirt or leaves, or that is hard to hose and brush clean. Gloss finishes are the easiest to keep clean and new looking. Having a well-sealed doghouse also keeps insects, dirt, vermin and water out, while keeping dog body warmth in. If the doghouse must shed continually excessive heat, paint it a light color; if it must retain the minimal heat of weak winter light or is in a colder climate, go dark.
Be sure that the doghouse roof is sufficiently pitched to drain water easily, and to shed accumulated snow. (However, if your climate is perpetually snowy, a flatter roof will allow a deep insulating layer of snow to encase the doghouse. Just be sure the roof construction and finish can stand the eventual draining of meltwater.) Also, be sure that any water will continue to drain away from the doghouse vicinity, rather than just sit in a murky puddle at your best friend's feet. It may thus be best to locate the doghouse atop a small rise or mound. If you dwell in a fairly cold, windy or snowy region, you will also want to locate the access to the doghouse away from the prevailing winter winds. This will minimize any snow build-up in front of (or within) the doghouse, and will offer your pet sanctuary from chilling winds and driven rain or snow.
Size the doghouse to contain a somewhat larger volume than your pet’s expected eventual mature size. You don’t want the doghouse to be too small to accommodate your pooch and its normal movements and postures (as well as any blankets, beds, dishes, toys, etc.). Yet you also do not want the doghouse to be so large that it invites other unwanted guests (such as transient raccoons, opossums, skunks, groundhogs, or other dogs), or so large that your pet does not feel ownership of its entire defensible domain. It is also easier within a fairly compact space for a canine to warm itself using only trapped body heat.
Doghouse floors of concrete, tile or stone are very inhospitable to animals. They often stay damp, and are consistently clammy, sapping body heat. They can also exacerbate body sores, and are not particularly comfortable. A wood floor is much easier on a dog’s body, and a raised wood floor allows for the insertion of some intervening insulation to ward off the ground’s chill. If your dog will spend extended nights or cool hours within its doghouse, the inclusion of a single 60-watt light bulb can be enough to cut the cold.
To insure your pet’s ease of mind and wellbeing, make sure that approaches to the doghouse are well within its view. To give your pet a sense of security and defensibility, the doghouse should also have but a single entry. It is also wise to establish a properly sized dog run (preferably with features of interest and variety) adjacent to and immediately accessible from the doghouse.
Finally, to be sure your pet really loves its new doghouse, allow it to assist you all the while you are building it.
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