Introduction: Custom Rescue Dog Pen
Runner Up in the
Dog Challenge 2016
I want to first preface this because I know this looks really trashy and redneck, but we adopted a dog from a horrible shelter which really wasn't helping their animals that much, and gave him a new home with us. My childhood dog had recently died a few months ago at the age of 7 due to lymphoma, and we knew we could give another dog a kind a loving home. In the first 7 days, this dog bit us 10 separate times because he was beaten, and would act out of self defense over toys and his bed. He had clearly been beaten by his previous owner, and if we couldn't fix him, he would unfortunately have to be put down. This was really our only hope at saving the dogs life, because he was really too much for the shelter. It is a bit of a trashy solution, but it saved this dogs life.
Here we are 3 weeks after we got him, and he has settled in great. The pen has worked fabulous and it has made it super easy to clean up any messes he has made. He hasn't bitten anyone in the past week or so (knock on wood), and he really likes it. The dog had kennel stress from being in the kennel (he wouldn't want to leave his cage or go for walks because he was afraid of the other big dogs... he's only 18 pounds), and he loves his pen because it is a place he feels safe and a place he can call his own. His cage is used as the doorway and all of his toys and his big bed is in there, as well as carpets so it is comfy. The one wall consists of a large door, so we can let him straight out of his pen into a very large fenced in area outside we built for him. We hung a bell on the door and are actively trying to bell train him. This was a relatively cheap and easy solution for a large issue we had, and it ultimately saved this sweet dog's life. I'm only 16, so this is one of my most favorite things I have built, and I'm glad it helped out this dog so much.
Step 1: Supplies
I helped my dad design this pen, and it uses cheap and common materials you can find at your local home and garden centers. I used very simple tools which most people should have at home, and considering we were using inexpensive and common materials, I really turned out fabulous.
The tools and materials needed consist of:
- Chop Saw
- Circular Saw
- Cordless Drill
- Staple Gun
- (2) Sheets of 4 by 8 Plywood
- (7) 2 by 3's
- 2ft Tall Chicken Wire
- 12ft by 4ft roll of linoleum
- Box Cutter
- Other Miscellaneous Small Hand Tools
Step 2: Laying Out the Plywood Base
We purchased two 4'x8' pieces of plywood to put as a base for the pen. It gave the linoleum a sturdy sheet to stand on, and was a much better alternative to a carpet base.
I first had to cut one piece of ply wood in half to 4 feet, because the roll of linoleum was a 12 foot long stretch. I measured it perfectly so that there was enough room on one side for the cage, and the other side lined up perfectly with the middle edge of 1 of the 3 french doors we have in this room. After I cut one piece in half, I then had to take out a small notch for the hot water line of our base boards. This allowed it to sit flush up against the wall, right next to the door. I then butted up the two factory edges to ensure that it was a clean seam, and screwed all the plywood through the carpet into the plywood beneath. My dad actually suggested it, and he said that it does nothing to the carpet, and it is completely unnoticeable once removed. I lightly screwed the sheets down, and made sure to make all the screws flush so that they don't effect the linoleum.
Step 3: Installing the Linoleum
The linoleum actually took while a while to install, because I wanted the final product of this to look as nice as I could make it provided what is is. I rolled out the sheet and it clearly fits, so I then cut out a notch for the base board water pipe again, and shovel it against the wall. The trim causes it to be about a quarter inch out from the base of the doors, so I traced out the rough trim shape freehand, and spent around 45 minutes meticulously cutting it out so that it butted up perfect on each of the pieces. This step is quite self explanatory, and the pictures really speak for themselves. I found that I could use a dry erase marker to roughly "pencil in" the outline of the trim, and slowly cut away little slivers until it joined up flawlessly with the wall. Feel free to use construction adhesive to secure this down, especially if you have a larger dog or it is a more permanent solution, but I only screwed it down and pinched it with the fence, and our small dog hasn't made it budge in the slightest.
Step 4: Building the Fence Frame
The fence frame was pretty simple to build, and it consists of two rails running along the outskirts of the plywood, with 21.5 inch slats in between. The 21.5 inch slats make the overall height 24" which is perfect for the chicken wire we got. The vertical slats/uprights are spaced every two feet, and allow for an even look all around the pen, while also securing it tight. The only irregular placing of an upright is at the far end next to the cage, and has enough wiggle room to slide his cage in. The cage is actually zip-tied to the fence to make sure it doesn't move. The uprights provide much needed rigidity, and serve as one of the places we stapled the chicken wire.
I used the chop saw to cut all these, and I measured it perfectly so that there was only about 2 feet of miscellaneous scrap 2 by 3 from the entire project. I wanted a little bit of leeway to make sure that I could get perfect spacing up against his cage.
I screwed the 2 by 3's to the plywood first, then laid out the top rail and the uprights. I screwed the uprights to the top rail using butt joints (which I use for all joints in this... nothing fancy), then unscrew the bottom rail from the plywood, and screw that on. Although this seems like a convoluted way of doing things, it actually proved to be super simple, because I didn't have to do any excess measuring, and in the end everything lined up absolutely perfect. There was a little warping toward the far end because we were using super inexpensive wood because this is really just temporary, but after I screwed it down in the final installation, the entire structure is incredible sturdy and rigid. Again, our rescue dog is barely 20 pounds, and has super tiny legs. He tries jumping out when we get home, but he doesn't even get close. (We bring him right outside and play with him in the grass. He is from the Bronx, so he is a city dog, and had never really seen this much grass before). The fence is plenty strong enough, and I often sit on the side and play with him, whether he is inside the pen or outside it.
Step 5: Painting the Fence
After it was assembled, I took the thing outside (and yes it easily fits through the door), and painted it with a super durable, super thick exterior latex paint. We used to live in an old victorian, so my dad has extra paint from that, and since it was latex and it dries out strangely, he wanted me to use it up before it went bad. I was able to use a roller and make 2 heavy coats of thick latex paint. It is great for a dog pen, and is safer than regular paint, because it won't chip and possibly get in his mouth or on his toys or anything strange. The latex basically dries as one large rubber coating, and makes it perfect for this specialized application. The latex also filled any rough voids or damages in the rough lumber we bough. The tan also sort of matched the walls and floor, and made it overall less of an eye sore.
Step 6: Attaching Chicken Wire
The chicken wire was 2 feet tall so it matched the fence, and I attached it with staples and a staple gun. I attached it to the inside of the fence, so that be would not be able to somehow push through, and so far it hasn't created any problems. If you are doing a more permanent fence you might want to consider a different material, but for our circumstances this worked great.
I had to stretch and pull the chicken wire in both directions while stapling it, so that it was taut and there was no sagging in the fence. I had my family help pull while I stapled the chicken wire to the fence. I put staples all along the top and bottom, as well as on the uprights, and it is miraculously strong. I was really dreading this part, but it really didn't take all that much time. I did, however, have to wait overnight for the paint to dry before I messed with attaching the chicken wire, so that is just a warning in case you are completing this project yourself.
I realize the chicken wire was a seemingly odd choice, but all in all, it works quite well and it really doesn't look as bad as you might think because the thin metal wire blends in quite a bit. Again, this is only temporary, and it works great!
Step 7: Final Assembly
After the chicken wire was all installed, I simply flipped the fence back over and lined it up with the plywood. I screwed it all down into the plywood, making sure to line each side up flush with the plywood, because all the wood was a little warped. After it was all screwed down, I took a box cutter and sliced the excess linoleum off the exposed sides where it hung over. The linoleum wasn't a perfect 12 by 4 to allow for a little wiggle room for any application. I used a zip tie to attach his cage to the fence, and we use that as a door. The final assembly was even easier than I had hoped, and it really worked out great!
Step 8: Admire Your Work!
Finally this was finished, and we put our dog in it. As mentioned earlier, he really likes it and knows it is his home. It is far better than being in a cage overnight at our house, and way better that being in a cage in a shelter. This took about a day and a half of working all day to complete it, including waiting for the paint to dry overnight, but it was well worth it and saved this dog's life and changed it for the better.
Please notice, that we only put him in this over night, or when we aren't home, and we let him out into our great room (where this is situated) after he goes outside and pees. He is able to run free when we are with him, but is confined to this large room until he is properly socialized and is trained. Again, this is only temporary, and it has saved this little guy's life, as well as saved us from much grief. It is a much better alternative to keeping him in a tiny cage, and it at least allows him to run and play a bit when we aren't home.
- Brandon (16)
PS. Little guy's name is Kody ;P
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