If I Had A Hammer… I’d Hammer on a Dog House! July is National “Dog House Repair Month”.
The beautiful thing about dog houses is that they don’t have to be beautiful. If they provide shelter and are built with love, it’s all about what’s on the inside that counts, right? So let’s talk about what makes a dog house a beautiful thing from your dog’s perspective and how to keep one in tip-top shape.
The Basics of a Good Dog House
Wolves, coyotes, foxes, and all other wild canine species are adept at fashioning their own homes. They know what they need to protect themselves from predators and the elements and they make it happen. We have to assume that aesthetics don’t play much of a role in that process. For that reason, Happy Hound recommends you start with the essentials for health and well being, then worry about “curb appeal”.
It’s really as easy as 1-2-3 when designing a dog house:
- Space — Provide adequate space for your friend to stand, stretch, turn around, and lie down with plenty of room for extended legs. However, they don’t need lots of space. You’ll find that some dogs prefer more limited confines because they provide a sense of security and makes it easier to stay warm.
- Temperature — Not too hot, not too cold. That means you’ll need to take into consideration not just the design features of your friend’s house, but where it is located. Insulation can protect against radical swings in both heat and cold, but think about placement. Direct sun, exposure to prevailing winds, and other factors should dictate placement. Seasonal factors may necessitate ventilation features that can be opened during hot summer months and closed for winter. And a door flap can aid in heat retention during the cold months. Elevating the structure a few inches from the ground can provide cooling ventilation in the hot months and a layer of insulation from cold or frozen ground in the winter months. It may also help prevent rot and mold.
- Dry — Create a structure that will remain dry, even in driving rains. Happy Hound recommends testing the roof and sides of your dog house with a garden hose and check for leaks. Preventing the incursion of water includes an overhang above the opening that protects the entrance from blowing rain or snow. Once you’ve confirmed there is no leaking or entry from blowing elements, consider placing the dog house away from areas where water may flow or pool. Keep in mind that a wet dog will introduce water to the house upon entry, so be conscious that blankets and rugs may then become wet and ultimately freeze or remain very cold. Some people use wood chips or straw, which drain water away from your canine companion.
Dog House Repair Checklist
A comprehensive checklist for repairs will vary depending upon the dog house, but a good place to start is ensuring that all of the above conditions are still being met.
For your convenience, here are some items that might be on most repair checklists:
- Be sure the structure is still solid. Check that joints are firm and materials aren’t overly worn.
- Double-check to be sure there are no nails or screws protruding into areas where your dog might pass.
- Check for cracks in the building material or chewed areas that could produce sharp edges.
- Inspect the integrity of insulation, if present.
- Inspect roofing materials for any signs of compromise.
- Inspect bedding materials to confirm they are still in good condition.
- Inspect for pest invasion, including wasps and hornets.
Dog houses and their placement vary about as much as the dogs they house, so take an extra moment to consider your particular situation. Here are some examples of issues that may warrant action and National Dog House Repair Month is the ideal time to do it.
Food and Water — Does your dog house provide proximity to food and reliable access to clean drinking water? Consider a covered area outside the dog house, so pests don’t come inside to get to the food and your dog isn’t apt to spill the water into his/her sleeping area. While you’re at it, consider securing those bowls in a manner to prevent spills.
Nearby Hazards — Is the dog house located under a dying tree limb that could fall and injure the dog? Is there any sort of hazardous waste or chemicals being stored nearby that could consistently expose your dog to danger? Is the dog house located in a safe and secure area, away from traffic and/or dangerous machinery?
Housing Materials — Is the dog house built from any materials that could pose a danger if your dog attempts to chew on it, such as treated lumber or materials that could splinter and lodge in their intestines, such as fiberglass?
Predators and Pests — How accessible is the dog house to other animals, both big and small, that may pose a threat? Depending upon where you live, this might include coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, ticks, hornets, and even raccoons.
And Now for the “Wow”!
Yes, a big part of the fun is a dog house’s aesthetic appeal. It’s absolutely fine to go crazy with design, colors, and fancy features. We’ve even heard of a dog house that features a plasma television! But realize that most of this will be for your fun, not that of your dog. And there’s nothing wrong with that because you’re likely the one who’s going to be looking at it.
Buying a Dog House — There are lots of sources for pre-fabricated dog houses, from basic to baroque. We don’t need to tell you that an online search is probably the best way to find a source for ready-to-use dog houses, so go for it. You may even want to check listings to see if anyone is selling a used dog house. And, of course, your local pet store probably has some instant options for you.
Building a Dog House — For the more industrious and inspired among us, you don’t need a building permit to construct a dog house, so roll up those sleeves and get started, if that’s a project you want to undertake. You can even find plans online for a D-I-Y dog house if you have concerns about your own architectural and engineering skills. But remember, if wolves, coyotes, and foxes can build something acceptable without opposable thumbs and power tools, just think of what you can accomplish! Don’t be intimidated; your dog won’t judge you.
Safety First — One thing to consider when building your own dog house, or elaborating upon one you’ve purchased, is your dog’s safety. Consider any paints or coatings you may use to ensure they’re not toxic; remember, dogs sometimes chew on things. Similarly, wild and ornate decorations may present a choking hazard or inflict cuts or puncture wounds; dogs are pretty smart about that sort of stuff, but avoid obvious dangers. For that same reason, if you’re considering adding electricity for heating pads, water fountains, lights, or other features, think about exposure to the elements or any tendency to chew on cords.
In the Dog House
Remember, even if you live with an “inside” dog, you may want to also provide an “outside” option that serves as his/her private space. We’ve heard stories of dogs who head right for their dog house when human household guests arrive, particularly if those guests include rambunctious kids. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, it just has to provide the basics listed at the outset of this article.
Enjoy National Dog House Repair Month
Most importantly, even if you don’t have a dog house and have no intentions of getting one, enjoy July and use National Dog House Repair Month as your excuse to spend a little extra time thinking about what would make your dog’s life even more enjoyable.
Home Away from Home
Don’t forget that Happy Hound is happy to be your dog’s home away from home any month of the year. We absolutely know how to provide them with the protection, upkeep, and love they need during those times when they can’t be home with you. Checkout our full range of dog day care and boarding services, plus dog training and dog grooming.
Thanks for reading!