LIFESTYLE

A Dog’s Abode: How to Build A Dog Kennel

Dog kennel building
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Building a dog kennel can be one of the most enjoyable chapters of being a pet parent. It will be a lot of work, but it will also be loads of fun. While we all love the convenience of just buying one, high-quality dog kennels are not cheap. This is why more and more pet parents are leaning towards DIY dog kennels.

DIY dog kennels are considerably less expensive, more customizable compared to commercial varieties in terms of appearance and dimensions, and can be done with labor of love. You can also allow other family members to participate in the project.

Advantages and disadvantages

An outdoor dog kennel serves as a dog house-like shelter that is enclosed in a fenced space. There are numerous advantages, as well as disadvantages of having a dog kennel, and these factors must be considered when deciding whether or not you want to build your own dog kennel.

The most prominent advantage of building a dog kennel is that it is a permanent and very durable structure. However, this might become a disadvantage for pet parents that have plans to move out or lives in a lifestyle where they are required to move from place to place. DIY dog kennels are designed to be a permanent structure, so it will become a challenge to dismantle the structure whenever the need to move out comes.

Dog kennel

Our fur babies can benefit from having their own residence. Kennels allow the dog to spend more time outdoors and have passive exercises. A kennel that is properly constructed can be a safe and secure place for the dog to do some passive exercises.

However, pet parents tend to rely too much on dog kennels. Because the dogs are penned in the kennel, it can deter the dog’s physical and social well-being. Our dogs need regular interaction that can be achieved more if the dog stays inside the house, where family members can interact with it freely. This is why there is a significant difference in overall behavior of dogs between those that stay in kennels and those that stay indoors. When a dog is kennel-locked, its behavior will be at both ends of the spectrum. They can either become very shy or very aggressive dogs.

The best solution to this prominent disadvantage is to maintain regular interaction and playtime even if the dog receives some exercise around its kennel. Interaction and socialization is very important aspect of your dog’s well-being, that is why it is recommended to use kennels in moderation. It is completely understandable that medium to large-sized dogs are more suitable outdoors, but you should not allow them to thrive alone because that will totally hurt their well-being.

Because kennels require construction, it might be a challenge for someone who does not have the needed skills to build it. Kennels typically have concrete floors, a chain fence, and the posts are secured in concrete. If you do not have enough tools, or skills to build one, you might need to hire someone to do it for you. However, if you are up for the challenge, you can do this by yourself or with a help of your neighbor and friends.

The size of a dog kennel is very important. If the kennel is too small, the dog will be cramped inside and may not have enough room to roam around and have exercise. Also, the surrounding fence should be secured, because dogs may dig under it and escape if the perimeter is not properly secured.

Dog indoor kennel

The fence – whether the one existing on the lawn or the one especially built to secure the kennel perimeter – should be secure. It should be constructed based on the needs of your dog. If the fence is too low, any medium or large-sized dog can jump over. The ideal fence can be made from metal wires, wooden planks, or steel bars.

The only commonly-used materials for fences that should not be used as a kennel fence are ropes or string. Not only that they can chew on it, these can be stretched by dogs and allow them to squeeze through and run away. It does not protect the dog from other animals as well, such as other dogs, cats, and rodents.

DIY dog kennel project preparation

It is very important to keep the entire process safe from potential injuries by keeping the younger children away from the workplace. There are several basic tools required, and these simple steps will help you to build your own kennel in no time.

Remember:

  • Safety should be the first priority.
  • Always keep tools and materials away from children. The dog that will live in the kennel should also be away during the entire process of constructing the kennel. They can be too playful and may lead to injuries when bumped into a machine or sharp objects.
  • Make sure to read the instructions before starting your project.
  • Always wear safety glasses and dust mask whenever you are sanding, sawing, planning, or cutting wood.

DIY dog kennel do’s

  • Do keep the construction as simple as possible.
  • Do find the most suitable space to construct the dog house.
  • Do make sure that you have all the materials and equipment ready right before you start.
  • Do find a well-ventilated place for sawing, cutting, planing, and painting.
  • Do enjoy the process of making your own dog house. This is one of the best expressions of how you show your love to your dog.

DIY dog kennel don’ts

  • Do not over decorate the dog house. A door nameplate is enough for a decoration. Too much of the dangling stuff will increase the risk of strangling the dog.
  • Do not rely on estimation. Use accurate measurements so that you will make no room for errors. It is very hard to start over again because you guessed a particular measurement, and end up not fitting the others.
  • Do not settle for cheap material. Selecting a sub-par timber or slightly rusted screw can make a huge difference in the longevity of the dog house. The amount of money that you will save initially will lead to additional costs in the long run.

Materials and tools needed

Before we start, make sure that you have the needed materials and tools for this project.

  • Plywood
  • Paint
  • Paint Brush
  • Jigsaw
  • Circular Saw or panel saw
  • Hammer
  • Rafter square
  • Tape Measure
  • Saw Horses
  • Pencil
  • Nails and Screws
  • Adhesive Cartridge Gun

Begin the construction

Completion of measurements

Set up the size of the kennel by measuring the length, height, and width of your dog first. Some pet parents miss the importance of starting with the dog’s measurements and they tend to “guesstimate”. Problem arises when the estimation for the kennel is considerably smaller than the dog. There should be enough room for movement and physical growth.

Kennel measurements

The measurements can be applied on your preferred pattern for the ends and the bottom, and please make sure that you give ample allowance for door height and width. You can follow several patterns available online, or you can even create your own based on pre-fabricated patterns and come up with a personalized one.

Cutting of the materials

On a pair of saw horses, lay the plywood panel with the better side facing up. Each component should be marked using a rafter square, and make sure that the wood grain follows vertically on the end and horizontally on the sides. The front and rear panels should be able to hide the side panel grains.

Use a pencil to mark a line down towards the center. Make your preferred bevel on one of the sides. The intersection between the vertical center line and that angle will provide you the required angle for the other side. Mark them and cut out one side panel and one end panel. You may use these patterns to for cutting and tracing the opposite side and end panels. It would be better to make sure that the side at the top portion of the floor is fixed. This inhibits the rising of accumulating moisture to the end grains of the sides.

You can also overlap the bottom portion if you want make sure that the end grains will be maintained dry. Use a jigsaw to cut the door opening. The panels can be shaped by using a panel saw or a fine-toothed circular saw.

Assembly

Now that you have already prepared the panels, it is time to assemble them. Use screws or nails to secure the end and side panels to the floor. Make sure that these panels are secured before applying the adhesive.

Assembly instructions

If you are using nails, they can be partially driven beforehand. You can fasten the nails in uniform distances, which is about 80 to 120mm apart, or four screws on each side will do.

The roof sections must be measured and there should be an overhang allowance on both sides. Bevel the roof edges to create a mitre joint. The overhanging edges can be trimmed by undercut, which allows better water drainage and inhibits the accumulation of moisture. There should be ample amount of adhesive to be applied to the apex joint to secure the entire structure.

Finishing

You can use acrylic paint for your newly assembled kennel. It is recommended by pet parents that made their own DIY kennels to apply at least three coats of acrylic paint, and make sure that you are using 100% acrylic paint because diluted versions are not very resistant to wear and tear. Paint prolongs the life of the plywood. You can also mount the newly assembled kennel above the ground on top of concrete or treated timber. Ideally, kennels should be mounted flat and not in an inclined space.

Dog kennel maintenance

Kennels require maintenance regularly. When a kennel is not kept clean, it can harbor different microorganisms and can also accelerate the wear and tear of the kennel. When a kennel is dirty most of the time, it increases the possibility for the dog to become sick. Dog owners need to clean the kennel regularly. There are dogs that are not as messy as the others, but that should not be an excuse for the pet parent to clean the kennel. You should conduct regular maintenance on the dog house and its surrounding structures to keep the kennel safe.

Dog kennel maintenance

When the kennel requires extensive cleaning, such as the warmer months and the shedding season, and it will need some thorough brushing and scrubbing, make sure that the kennel is dry before returning your dog inside. Warm and moist environment is one of the most favorable conditions for harboring pathogens and parasites, that’s why it is very important to make sure that the kennel is clean and dry.

Ticks can lodge themselves around the cracks and crevices inside and outside the dog house. This is the primary cause of tick infestation for dogs. Pet parents tend to focus too much on tick removal that is in the dog, but there is a good chance that through scratching and movement, some ticks are stuck inside the dog house.

Your pet supply store and veterinarian can recommend the most compatible tick removal solution that will combat the ticks that hide inside the dog house. This inhibits future tick infestation and keeps your dogs healthy and comfortable.

Ticks infographic

Every once in a while, you may want to freshen up the dog house and repaint it with your new preferred color. The drying process might be longer than usual because now you are dealing with a mounted piece of assembled timber. Also, whenever you decide to have this done, the dog must be away from the dog house until the paint dries off completely.

Keeping a healthy dog in a kennel

As previously mentioned, dogs that stay in kennels have a bigger tendency to have behavioral problems. The disruption is more evident if a previously house-trained fur baby gets to live in a kennel. We can keep a healthy dog in a kennel by promoting a schedule that will make sure that you will have quality time with your dog on a daily basis. For busy employees, this can be hard because of time constraints. But if you can keep a regular routine on a daily basis, fewer problems may occur.

The less frequent you have time with your dog, the higher the possibility that it will develop illnesses that will only present symptoms if they are already at their worst state. This defeats the purpose of creating a kennel that looks good and is roomy enough, but the dog that lives in it is not well at all.

Dog playing with boy in kennel

There are breeds that thrive in a dog house better than others. In general, medium and large-sized dogs are compatible with kennels and dog houses. However, some breeds that can be overly attached to their pet parents might experience a hard time adjusting. If you are in the planning stage of having a dog and will keep it inside your home during the puppy stage and eventually place it in a dog house as it matures, you are providing emotional and psychological agitation to your dog.

Toy dog breeds are mostly affected by this transition, and they feel neglected if the routine that they have been living for a while will suddenly change. The dog house that you have created might be a prison for them.

Keep your dog healthy

Dogs that grew inside the house and reached young adulthood might have a little trouble adjusting. You can do this gradually by letting the dog stay inside the house for several hours, then let it stay inside the dog house for the next set of hours.

You may lengthen the hours that the dog stays inside the dog house until the time comes that it is less stressed and agitated whenever it is inside its dog house and not inside your home. Gradual adjustment is a lot better in more ways than one compared to sudden change of environment. It can cause emotional trauma and will leave the dog scarred for life.

In summary, these should always be remembered by every pet parent that will be keeping a dog in a dog house outside their homes.

Dogs are naturally pack animals

As most dog breeds came from wolf ancestors, they are very social animals. Dogs are actually more social than us humans, and they need to belong in a particular family. When a pet parent owns a dog, the pet parent becomes the pack and will exhaust all efforts to be with it. When a dog is forced to live outside the pack with little or no human interaction at all, it will be one of the most powerful psychological aspects that will hurt the dog’s well-being.

Dogs still carry the den instinct

Our fur babies prefer a quiet, safe, and secure environment to have rest, hang out, and get some sleep. The perfect example of a modern den is obviously our home. Dogs can be housetrained, and if it can be trained early to live in a dog house with ample amount of interaction and companionship, it will be able to thrive well in a dog house.

Dog houses and behavioral shifts

This happens when there is no interaction at all. Their behavior shifts and they can become too aggressive. It is normal for dog that hasn’t adjust well to be very stressed and agitated. They cannot sleep well at night, and they can be very irritable. You will notice the increased frequency of barking and howling, which can disturb your neighbors. Another consideration is that, when a dog was not socially-trained, it will not be able to learn anything beyond that at all. This makes the dog less receptive to learning and less responsive to play and commands.

Because dogs are man’s best friend, it is not surprising that their activity can decrease, and their playfulness will become dull. They lose appetite, and become less responsive. Depression can also affect our canine friends.

Dog houses and behavioral shifts

Bear in mind that we are not discouraging you to let your dog stay outside. Dog houses can be wonderful shelters for fur babies if we can utilize them well. As long as you follow our simple guide to proper building the dog house, to proper adjustment for the dog and the routines that both of you should follow, then everything will work out fine. A successful dog house thriving dog is a dog that remains healthy, active, and alert even if it lives outside your home.

In conclusion

Now that your fur baby has its own abode, it now has its own space, a territory that is completely for the dog alone. As a pet parent, it is very important to understand the importance of shelter as one of the basic necessities of both dogs and humans. But we should also keep in mind that by providing these necessities, we only take care of their basic needs. We should never forget our responsibilities such as playtime and constant interaction. If we can successfully balance these factors, a successful and worthwhile pet parenthood will be guaranteed.

As we build our DIY kennel, it encompasses a great coverage of ideas, memories, and future moments that can be created with our dogs. While they will be living outside our homes, never forget that they are still part of the family. This recognition should always be inside our heart and mind.

Useful links

You may also check these instructional videos where you can get inspiration on what kind of kennel you want to make for your fur babies.

Good luck!

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Seth Weaseley

    Thanks for the amazing read, the instructions are detailed and really practical!

  • Alice Moore

    This article was very informative. But I’d like to bring up proper crate/kennel training for a dog. The kennels shouldn’t be misused as a ‘punishment’ or a ‘timeout’ if the dog misbehaves. It won’t make the right associations of safety that a crate is supposed to have. Instead if the kennel is misused then the dog won’t like the kennel at all because of the negative associations that he’d make. Putting this out there for other dog owners!

  • You’re welcome, Seth! I’m happy that you enjoyed reading this article.

  • That’s correct, Alice. It is very important for dog owners to understand the real purpose of putting their dogs in the kennel.

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