How to Build a Dog House: Sort Through the Confusion

How to Build a Dog House
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Dogs have become an integral part of day-to-day living for many people around the world. Hundreds serve as assistance dogs helping individuals with disabilities live a more normal life. Some canines serve in the military, working side by side with soldiers in keeping the country safe and saving people’s lives. Thousands more are beloved pets and invaluable parts of households. It is quite normal then to give dogs the best treatment possible.

When it comes to providing the right shelter, you can choose to have your dog live in the house with you. If, however, you opt for your canine to live outdoors, then providing a comfortable retreat within your property is highly advisable. For your peace of mind, you may want to see our DIY fence enclosure for dogs to make sure Fido doesn’t wander off.

Homemade dog house

The next question then is how to build a dog house, one that will meet all your pet’s needs? This guide will help you sort through the confusion.

Advantages of dog houses

There are many reasons why building a dog house is the better choice. Below are a few of them.

  • Practical if you decide to not let your dog live inside the house with you. No matter how much people love their pet, sometimes it just isn’t practical to have a dog live inside the house with them. It might be that someone in the family is scared or allergic of dogs. Perhaps the design of the house or the chosen furnishings weren’t planned to be dog-proof. Whatever the case, you might be in the same situation. Having a dog house then is very beneficial as it is a place where your canine can rest without getting buffeted by the elements daily.
  • A great tool for facilitating training and housebreaking. It can be stressful bringing home a puppy that is yet to be housebroken. Bring him in prematurely and he could be peeing all over, become rough with your furniture and do a lot of damage to your interiors overall. To help him acclimatize to his new environment, let him live in a dog house out in the yard first for as long as needed. Allow him inside only when he is better trained and behaved. Our tips on proper crate training will give you an inkling on how best to do it.
  • Serves as a dedicated outdoor space. Even if your pet mainly lives inside the house, there will be times when he’ll love staying outdoors. If it suddenly rains, if the heat becomes too much, or if he gets tired – the dog house will be a perfect place to rest for a while.

Why build? Why not just buy a dog house?

If you choose to buy a dog house, then by all means do so. There are certainly a wide range of choices in the market for all types of budget. You can purchase at pet shops or find the right product online in just a matter of a few mouse clicks. So why build one?

Dog houses infographic

Here are some of the main reasons why going the DIY route is a more practical choice:

  • If you have the carpentry skills and can source the materials for free or cheaply, then building a dog house is definitely easier on the pocket.
  • It is a great opportunity to recycle or upcycle materials; allows you to do a bit of good for the environment.
  • Building one from scratch gives you total creative freedom and control. Want to paint the dog house in neon pink? Feel free. Want it to be as wide as your garage? Totally up to you. Sky is the limit.
  • A DIY dog house can be considered a labor of love. Taking the time and effort to create one for your four-legged best friend conveys just how special he is to you.

Things to consider before starting the build

Before you jump right into actually building a dog house, there are several important factors you need to carefully think about first. Not taking time on these considerations may lead to a poorly built or badly positioned dog house. So what exactly are the things you need to consider before the build?

Location – where best to place it?

Scouting for the right spot is easy. Simply look for a place that is cool and shady. Think about the changing seasons as well because an area might be cool and shady in the summer, but would it stay dry and comfortable during the colder months? Basically, find a place for the dog house that is not too exposed to the elements. Not only will this ensure the comfort of your dog, choosing the right spot can extend the life span of the dog house too. If it won’t get wet too much or it isn’t exposed to the sun a lot, it won’t rot or fall apart easily.

Another important thing to consider when it comes to location is drainage. The dog house should not be in a spot where rain water tends to stagnate for a few days. The dampness wouldn’t be good for his comfort nor his health. Lastly, think about wind exposure, especially if your address experiences several storms or typhoons in a year.

Choose location and design

Lastly, try not to place the dog house too far away from the main house. Your dog might think he is getting banished or punished and he might just hate living in a house that’s too removed from familiar sights, smells and sounds.

Size – how big should it be?

The best way to determine the right size of a dog house is to take the weight and height measurements of the dog that will soon be living in it. Unless you have the skills and the resources to build a canine mansion, regular dog houses shouldn’t be too big. It should just be enough space for your dog to stand in. It should also just have enough room for him to lie down on his side and comfortably switch positions whenever he wants.

Note also that although you have complete freedom to build a much bigger dog house, if this won’t be properly insulated then your pet will be very cold during winter.

Dog house size

If you are planning to create a more permanent dog house but your new pet is still a puppy, then factor in his growth. For an educated guess of his future size and weight, see how big and heavy his parents were. If this is not doable, then research online the average adult size and weight of the breed of your dog. Just make sure to err on the side of caution, otherwise you’ll be forced to construct a much bigger dog house a few years later.

Flooring – raised or ground level?

This decision would depend on the area you have chosen for the dog house. If the spot has good drainage, meaning water won’t stagnate there for days and mud or snow wouldn’t be an issue, then ground level flooring should be okay. However, if there is a chance that rainwater might seep into the dog house or if it gets muddy, slushy or dusty in that area, then raised flooring is the best way to go.

Raised floor on dog house

When deciding how high the raised flooring should go, consider ease of entry. Unless you really want to include ramps or a set of steps, the flooring should be raised to an enough height where your dog can easily get in without tripping over himself. It is also a good idea to construct the floor in such a way that it is a little bit slanted towards the opening to further limit water, snow or mud from getting inside.

Roof – what style should you choose?

It is highly advisable to forego flat roofing and opt for a slanted one instead. This is so snow won’t pile up and weigh the dog house down. Additionally, rain water and debris would easily slide off, which helps with maintenance and keeping the dog house in good shape for a long time.

Now if you really want to make things easier for you come cleaning time, find plans for a hinged roof. This way, you just have to open it up when you need to take out something – say bedding that needs changing or an old chewed out toy. Lastly, it is advisable to coat the roof with reflective paint, which improves the overall ventilation of the dog house.

Budget – how much can you afford?

Even if you are going to DIY a dog house, you are most likely going to spend for some things still. You might need nails or a few wood boards to complete the project. That is why it is advisable to have a budget plan. You will avoid financial surprises and you might even discover more ways to save money.

Plan for dog house and budget

After examining the above considerations, come up with the right budget for the work ahead of you by listing down all materials needed for your planned dog house. This should be easier now that you know how big it is going to be and what roofing and flooring type is best for your pet. Go through the list carefully and see which items you can get for free or substitute with a cheaper but equally good alternative.

For those stuff you need to buy, it is a good idea to canvass first which shops offer affordable quality materials. As for labor, ask your friends or someone in the family to help out if needed.

Materials needed and where to get them?

The materials and tools that you need to gather depend mostly on the plan you’ll be following. Here are a few common or popular resources you might eventually need:

Woodnot only is this easier to handle when going the DIY route compared to metal or plastic, wood is also wonderful for creating a properly ventilated dog house. Plastic or metal tend to get too hot during the summer months even if placed at a shady location.

Using wood can also be easier on the pocket since you can recycle some old furniture or make something out of scraps from the lumber yard. The one disadvantage to a wooden dog house though is that your dog might chew on it and the splinters could prove problematic. With proper training however, your four-legged best friend can learn to treat his house better.

Building a dog house

Insulation – your dog is important to you so naturally you would want him to be comfortable in his little house. This is where insulation comes in. That additional layer of insulating panels on the roof and walls will make all the difference to your pet’s comfort during summer and winter months.

Paint – needed for making the dog house look good. Carefully check the labels on the can though and make sure there aren’t any toxic chemicals just in case your pet really wants to chew parts of his house. And as mentioned above, choose reflective paint particularly for the roofing to help with the ventilation.

Nails, screws, hammer, saw and other carpentry tools – choose quality hand tools that will help you get the job done quicker without exposing you to DIY-related injuries. As for nails and screws, opt for galvanized options or those that are weatherproofed. These won’t rust easily and will contribute to the long life of the dog house.

Dog house kits – want to still ‘assemble’ a dog house but don’t quite have the carpentry skills required? Or maybe you don’t have the time needed to take on the work? Then these prefabricated kits will make things a lot easier for you.

Wood for dog house

You can source these materials from the nearest home builders shop or you can check out pet stores near you. Ordering online is also a great idea and definitely more convenient. If budget is a bit limited, then see what thrift stores and scrap yards have to offer. And you can always see if you have any old furniture lying around that you can upcycle and breathe new life into. Stop by a nearby restaurant or a grocery shop as well and check if they have pallets they can give you for free.

Safety considerations

Building a dog house can be a very rewarding and fun project to take on. But just like any other construction work, there will always be the chance of accidents or injuries happening. Hence it pays to be careful always by making sure no harm comes to you, other people living in the house, or your dog during the build. Those wooden materials might interest your dog’s palate so read on how to keep your dog preoccupied with interactive dog toys to prevent any mishaps.

Keep yourself safe

Keep the materials and tools in proper storage when not in use or in between build stages. Alternatively, cordon off the area where you are doing the work. This way, other people in the house won’t make the mistake of wandering in there and accidentally stepping on nails or knocking things over. This is especially important if you have a child in the house.

When doing the construction, wear protective gear such as gloves and appropriate boots or shoes. Hand and feet injuries are quite common in construction areas whether at commercial zones or in the shed for do-it-yourself projects, so best take whatever precautions needed. If working with metal and doing some welding, do wear necessary eye protection.

Wear protective gloves

Schedule the work properly as well in order to avoid rushing, which often leads to mistakes and accidents. Lastly, take the time to fully understand the dog house plan you’ve chosen before committing yourself to the task. Do ask for help whenever needed.

Keep your dog safe

When using wood, ensure that the lumber you have is not treated with potentially poisonous chemicals. Again this is because dogs tend to chew stuff and dog houses are not immune to that. The same advice is relevant for your paint choices. We’ve compiled useful tips on how to keep your furry friend safe which will add to your knowledge regarding caring for your pets.

Aside from that, please avoid doing haphazard work. Inspect the dog house as you go along. Make sure nails are hammered in properly, the wood planed adequately so that no chips or splinters are jutting out, and the whole structure is well balanced. Doing a thorough quality work is the key to a fantastic dog house that is safe and comfortable to live in.

It is ideal that you make a checklist of these safety considerations to avoid missing anything. As well, ask for help or advice if necessary.

Tutorials for building a dog house

So you’ve scouted the right location and you have the budget to start the project.

Plan for dog house

Here then are a few dog house building tutorials that you can start right away or use as a foundation for your own plans. Aside from outlining the important steps in these tutorials, videos are also provided to further make the projects approachable.

Tutorial 01 – building a basic dog house

This guide from Skil is an easy to follow tutorial for making a dog house that will keep your pet safe and dry.

Materials needed:

  • Cedar 2x4s
  • 1 ½ inch cedar boards
  • 3/8 inch outdoor plywood
  • ¾ inch outdoor plywood
  • Exterior screws

Note: all the wood you are using should be suited for outdoor use but aren’t treated with any toxic chemicals.


  1. Use the 2x4s to create the floor frame to achieve slightly raised flooring, which helps in keeping dirt and water from entering the dog house.
  2. The frame should be around 36 by 48 inches. Make adjustments depending on the size of your dog.
  3. Add some 2x4s inside the main floor area, properly spaced, to make the flooring rigid.
  4. Then sheet the floor with the appropriate sized exterior plywood. The plywood will help square the frame. Use an electric screw driver as shown on the video to attach the plywood easily. If an electric screw driver isn’t available, hammer and nails are a good alternative.
  5. Now it’s about time to create the two side walls. Again, measurements should depend on the size of the dog house you’re making. Cut the studs and frames and assemble as shown on the video.
  6. Next up, assemble the back wall and front wall with entrance. Make sure the back studs are shorter than the front so that when you put over the roof later, it will slope down to the back.
  7. Attach the two side walls to the flooring you’ve made earlier and follow through with attaching the back wall and front wall.
  8. Screw the walls together.
  9. Proceed with sheeting the walls with plywood.
  10. Attach cedar trims to all the corners and angles.
  11. Next, coat the dog house with outdoor stain and wood sealer.
  12. Once everything is dry, proceed to creating the roof using the same framing as the floor. However, sheet this with ¾ inch construction plywood so that the roofing nails will have something thicker to adhere to.
  13. Put trim around the roof and drip edge over the trim, finish with asphalt shingles on the top.
  14. Place the roof on top of the main frame. Check that the roof is indeed sloping towards the back.
  15. Get creative with the finishing touches.

Tutorial 02 – building an insulated dog house

Tutorial number one taught you to build a basic dog house. It’s already a done deal if what you have to contend in your area are just dry and wet weather. However, if your address experiences the four seasons, then adding insulation to the dog house is a must.

This tutorial will show you how.

Materials needed:

  • Wood panels
  • Plywood
  • Corner posts
  • Galvanized screws
  • Hinges
  • Lift hinges
  • Starter strip
  • Vinyl siding


  1. Start by penciling on the wood panels where you need to cut using a jigsaw. Then cut the wood panels down to size, again depending on how big your dog is. These will make up the walls of the house.
  2. Attach the walls together easily using the corner posts and well placed screws.
  3. Once you have the walls put together, add a pitch at the top as shown on the video. This will ensure that the roof will be sloping a bit towards the back so that snow and debris won’t collect on top.
  4. Create the roofing using wood panels. Attach it to the pitch you’ve added. Instead of just attaching everything with screws or nails however, hinge the back side of the roof and then use lift hinges for the other sides as discussed in the video tutorial. This is so you could easily open up the roof later for convenient cleaning of the dog house.
  5. Utilize drip edge for the roofing. You can also overlap felting material on the roofing to ensure the whole structure is water tight. Tiles can also be used on the roofing for a more sealed roof that’s also aesthetically pleasing.
  6. Install the bottom part or the flooring by flipping over the dog house and attaching the plywood using screws.
  7. Smoothen the inside walls of the dog house with plywood.
  8. Assemble the vinyl siding using the starter strip on all walls of the dog house and you’ll finally have a fully insulated structure.

You can also head on to our article on how to make dog houses for the cold winter months for more ideas.

Tutorial 03 – DIY dog house using pallets

Provided by Pinetar Robyn Homestead, this tutorial will show you how to take full advantage of pallets you can get very cheaply or even for free. Constructing a dog house this way will definitely be easier on the pockets.

Bonus: the roofing in this tutorial is going to be a green roof, a unique and environmentally friendly addition to your property.

Materials needed:

  • Stack of pallets
  • Strips of wood for the posts
  • Galvanized screws or weatherproofed nails
  • Stain and sealant


  1. Fill in the missing wood on one pallet to achieve a smooth and hole-free base, which will serve as the flooring.
  2. Take other pallets, fill in any missing wood and attach these to the base in order to put up the walls.
  3. Next put up the roof. You can use the instructions in both of the tutorials above to do this. You can use scraps from the pallets you have or you can get wood panels or cobble up the roof using 2x4s and sheets of plywood. Just be reminded to construct a sloping roof.
  4. Stain and seal the walls and roofing for better weather resistance.
  5. On top of the roof, maybe you can layer chicken wire and some water barrier and add soil on top in which you can then put in the plants or vegetables you want. Please see the video to better understand this part of the construction.

How to make your dog love his house

So you finished constructing a beautiful and warm dog house and placed it at the best location you can find within your property. You take your dog there for him to inspect his new home. Instead of being excited about the whole thing, your dog instead turns away uninterested. Worse, he looks like he hates it! What to do?

First, don’t feel too dejected because this is a common scenario. Your pet just needs to adjust to the new environment and here are some of the things you can do to speed up the process:

  • Do not force your dog to get in. Do not shout at him or lock him out that night in case he really shows no interest in living there. This will just make him feel as if he is punished.
  • Make the dog house a positive experience. Perhaps you can put his favorite food by the door or place his favorite bedding and toys inside.
  • Stay near the dog house as much as possible. This way, your dog will have a familiar sight and smell nearby and won’t consider the new dog house so alien. In fact, he might just get curious and learn to like it more quickly.
  • Continue to feed your pet in the dog house or keep placing the food bowl by the door. Soon the house will be a familiar sight to him.
  • If the above are not working, check to see if there’s something in the area that’s making your pet uncomfortable or scared. Perhaps there’s an odd smell there that he doesn’t like. In this case, consider transferring the dog house, preferably somewhere a little bit closer to your house so that your dog doesn’t feel like he was banished.

As a whole, be patient and understanding. Even people are not always comfortable with changes and new things. Be positive that your dog will soon love living in his own little house. You can also see our tips on dog training using a clicker that you’ll find valuable.


A dog house is a great gift you can give to your pet. Yes you can easily buy one from pet shops, but going the DIY route can be a more rewarding thing to do.

Homemade house for dogs

Taking the time and effort and shelling out the money required to build a dog house shows how much you love your canine best friend. It can be fun as well because there are just so many types, designs and plans that you can choose from. Although things can get confusing at times, hopefully this guide and the tutorials detailed here will help you. Good luck in building that dog house and may the whole process be an awesome experience for you!

And while your creative juices are still flowing, maybe it’s time to plan on your next project — an enclosed dog run which we have featured in our article under the Health and Care Section.

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.