Baby It’s Cold Outside

Doghouse

DoghouseMy German Shorthaired Pointers, Storm and Blaze, live mostly outside. They’re happy to be out in the yard, lounging or playing when I’m not out hunting with them. With our move to Indiana, the winter days are much colder than they were when we lived in California. I’ve realized, probably a little late, that they need somewhere to get in out of the cold while everyone is away at work and school. In early Fall, it was easy. I threw a couple of blankets and a tarp over a wire kennel that they share and everyone was happy. The blanket/tarp solution isn’t really working any more with the forecast temperatures hanging around freezing most of the day. I need a new, permanent solution.
In California, my son and I built them a dog house – it was pretty simple. A couple of sheets of plywood and some 2×2’s to support the corners. I got the design from my dad, but I don’t know where it originated so I can’t give full credit where it’s due.

I’m using the same basic design with a couple of changes to make it a four-seasons place for my dogs. It has:

  • a roof that slants from front to back. This encourages snow/water to drain off to the back instead of dripping into the entrance.
  • a room roughly square with the entrance to the side
  • a hallway from the front of the doghouse to the entrance. This provides both some wind protection and a place for the dog to lay when he doesn’t want to be completely inside.
  • A removable roof to enable me to clean out the room easily

Improvements for the four-seasons version:

  • Insulated walls. I’m adding interior walls with rigid foam insulation.
  • Insulated floor. The floor will have the same insulation between the joists, held in place with cleats and another layer of OSB to discourage varmints from nesting in there
  • Caulked seams. I’m going to caulk all the exterior seams to minimize the transfer of cold air into the “living space”
  • Hinged roof. With the original removable roof, I noticed that I almost never removed it completely. I’ll hinge the new roof to make sure I don’t drop it.
  • Vent. I’m installing a 2″x12″ floor register as a vent so I can close it in winter and open it in summer.
  • Size: I based the size of the doghouse on the size of the dog according to the guide here.
  • Two doghouses. Blaze and Storm sleep together at night and that is fine, but they don’t like to always be together. It’s the difference between sharing a house and sharing a room.

Measurements:

The guide indicates the room should be about square, x% larger than the dog, nose to tail
Doorway should be no smaller than 75% of the dog’s height at the shoulder
Room should be 1.25x dog’s height floor to top of head. For my dogs, that’s…

That means the room will be 39″x39″x37″, with a doorway 10″x18″ and a hallway 18″x40″.

Construction

Construction is done with 2×2 and 2×3.  I love 2×3 because they can handle almost anything a 2×4 can at a lower cost.  For the dog houses, 2×2 is even cheaper and provides plenty of support in most places.

Floor

First step is to build up the floors. I’m building up a box, 61 inches by 43, out of 2×3’s. I’ll put 4 additional floor joists evenly spaced to provide some structural integrity. The four gaps between joists that are under the room will have 1 1/2″ rigid insulation in them with a sheet of OSB covering it. The OSB is held in with cleats and is included to keep varmints from nesting in the insulation.

Framing

Next, framing. Corners for the room and the back of the hallway are built by laying a 2×2 on the 3″ side of a 2×3 and screwing them together. Front ones are 40″ tall, rear are 34″ to provide about a 1/7 pitch to the roof. There is a top plate and bottom plate that the corner braces are attached to, but intermediate studs aren’t needed because the rigid insulation provides some level of structural integrity to the walls. The tops of the corner supports are cut at that 1/7 slant so the roof can sit flat on the top plate. The doorway is framed with 2×2’s so the dogs don’t chew on the insulation there.

Interior walls

The interior walls are cut to fit the framing. Front and back walls are square or rectangular, and the side walls are trapezoidal. The wall with the doorway of course gets the door cut into it.

Insulation

Cut the insulation to fit the walls and set into place. A piece of painter’s tape can help make sure they don’t fall out while you’re getting the exterior walls together.

Exterior walls

Cut the exterior walls to fit the framing with a one-inch overhang on the bottom to help connect to the floor. Install the vent in the outer side wall, cutting the opening through the outer wall, insulation, and inner wall to just fit. Also, when cutting the outer walls, don’t forget to account for the thickness of the OSB when you measure. I’ve had otherwise beautiful corners ruined because I didn’t overlap the plywood or OSB.

Roof

Cut a piece of OSB to fit with some overhang. Mine is 70×48. Using 2×2, make a box that matches the outer dimensions of the doghouse. Make sure to add a crosspiece at the top of the interior “hallway” wall to help keep the wind out.

Caulk and paint

Caulk the exterior seams, particularly around the living space, then paint. I am using the cheapest paint I can find – barn and fence paint.

Final Touches

Once it’s all painted, attach the roof with two hinges in the front (it’s not as difficult to lean over the lower back as the higher front) and fill the room with cedar chips. I like cedar chips because they discourage bugs and make the dogs smell nice.