Noah's Work: Providing Shelter
BUILDING A DOG HOUSE
To build a shelter quickly for your own dog or for Animal Rescue Work, start out with a sturdy crate or wooden box of a size that could house your dog. Otherwise build the framework. The dimensions are determined by the size of the dog. The dog should be able to stand in his dog house, lie down and turn around but should not have an area too much larger than he is. Add to the height to allow for the thickness of a cushion or straw. Dogs generate a lot of heat which can carry them through the winter but in too large an area this heat is dissipated and lost to him for warming. Crates can be found at an import business, for example, or at a lumber yard. If you construct a frame of your own, close in the house with 3/8 or 3/4 inch plywood, preferably heat treated wood which is resistant to weather rot.
The opening or doorway should be the width of your dog at the shoulders and the height of the torso from shoulder to paws. Make sure that you leave approximately an 8" lip on the bottom of the entrance. The lip prevents your animal from dragging the straw or bedding you place in his house out of the doghouse .The straw is for the dog to create a warm bed in winter and a cozy bed year round.
Once you have the frame solidly put together, fix the crate lid to the crate top. You need to waterproof the roof. Use a solid piece of metal (our wonderful volunteer had a supply of flexible metal which he would nail on the outside of the roof.) The wood should be interior to the metal. It acts as insulation. Metal conducts cold or heat. Or if you have no metal, a piece of 3/4" plywood painted two or three layers with a waterproof outdoor paint, helps prolong the life of the wood. Better yet use roll roofing in one piece, nailed on with roofing nails. Roll roofing adds a lot of weight onto the house. The nails must not not pierce through into the interior where your dog could scratch himself. If you use roofing tiles (also heavy) it would be better to slant the roof as rain might get in otherwise. If you can, add about a foot or so to the roof over the entrance so that a covered veranda is created for your dog to use to sun himself in winter or to lie under in the summer as he/she watches the world go by.
You must raise the doghouse on two by fours so that the bottom does not rest on the ground where it will get soaked in wet weather which will cause rotting very quickly. If you raise the dog house on heat-treated two by fours pieces of wood, it will last for years. Normal two by fours will rot after two or three years and need to be replaced.
The cracks between the boards of a crate should be covered . You can use 3/8 inch plywood (which doesn't last more than a couple of years) or roll roofing or roofing tiles (these last two materials are heavy if you have to move the house). Be sure to make these covering materials tight to the structure as your dog will worry any protruding bits and pull them off. Again, be sure that the nails or screws do not impinge on the interior of the dog house where your dog might injure him/herself. If your dog is on a line which allows him/her access to the doghouse, the doorway might become chewed up by the chaffing of the chain or line as your dog goes in and out. A reinforcing piece of sturdy wood is best affixed on the sides of the entrance. Always face the doghouse so that the sun can enter the door in winter. This gives a lot of warmth on cold days, especially if your dog is kept outdoors.
Adding straw (which generates a lot of heat) is a must for an outdoor dog (hay is cushioning but generates no heat); an old sofa cushion is good but some dogs chew them up and strew the insides all over your yard. A dog that chews everything is best given a blanket along with straw.
If your dog is on a line, check to be sure that the line cannot become tangled in trees, brush, any stumps which are in the area, (or on the dog house itself) which the dog can reach. A dog so entangled can freeze on a cold night in winter. The line is ideally, at least 6 feet long. If your dog is a chewer you may have to put him/her on a chain. Be sure that the chain is not too heavy but is heavy enough so that your dog cannot break it Chains can kink and shorten as an active dog moves around. The line could become too short for the dog to reach his house. So check the line frequently. Fix a line to a metal pole pounded deeply into the ground and place the pole in front of the dog house or to the side so as to allow the dog to reach the dog house in inclement weather. It is best to attach the line to the pole by a large ring which can swivel around as the dog circles the pole. By doing this the line is not so easily shortened by winding around the pole. You must check your animal often, especially in inclement weather.
A dog always on a line is not a happy dog. Be sure to exercise your dog on a lead. Use a choke chain for training your dog but never leave a choke chain on a dog while he/she is tethered for any length of time. Dogs can hang themselves by accident.
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