I have always been amazed at how much a decent dog house can cost you from the pet store. Build a nice dog house that works better, lasts longer and is mobile? Challenge accepted.
Step 1: Measure Your Mutt
We got my dog Zelda when she was about a year old from the pound. Being our first dog we didn't have a kennel ready for her to use so I knocked one up out of left over particle floor board I had in the shed. She quickly outgrew this, it was becoming a squeeze to fit in every night and she would often bump her head if she launched out of it too quickly. It was time for something bigger.
The first thing you are going to want to do is get an idea of how big your dog house will have to be to fit your hound. I wanted mine to be able to sit up, lie down and turn around when she is inside her house. The end result will be different for every dog and my kennel ended up being a bit bigger than I needed. On the plus side I now have 2 dogs and they both fit in it on cold nights. My dog Zelda is about the size of a German Shepard or large Labrador so I got some rough measures of when she was sitting, standing, lying and her turning circle for the design.
Height: 750mm at the front sloping to 680mm at the rear
Length: 1100mm with a 300mm deck at the front
I also chose the above dimensions so get maximum use out of the 2400 x 1200/600 sheets of ply and fiber cement sheeting that will be used during the build.
Step 2: Materials/Parts
By listing the goals I had for the finished product, it was easier to identify what was going to be needed once the build began. I wanted the dog house to have insulated cavity walls for the cold winters, be able to be moved by one person and have easy access for cleaning. The final location for the dog house was going to be in a carport which meant less costs due to not having to make the roof weather proof. If it needed to used in an exposed area a weatherproof sheeting material like shingles or roofing iron could be used to clad it.
I wanted to keep costs down where possible and make use of materials that were already lying around in the shed. By ripping some warped framing timber down I was able to get twice as much length out of it while at the same time keeping the weight of the dog house down. Cladding material ended up being some fiber cement sheeting, while the floor was a convenient piece of ply I had lying around. Internal sheeting was 3mm construction ply and I picked up a miss tint 10L bucket of outdoor self priming paint on the cheap at the local hardware store. The whole project was about 200 bucks out of pocket but I did save on some of items like the 12mm ply and framing timber I already had which may take material cost to over $300.
The shopping list looked something like this:
2 lawn mower wheels
2 Galv hinges for the roof
Several tubes of Liquid nails and my old friend gap filler
2 Sheets of 2400 x 600 cement sheeting
1 Sheet of 2400 x 1200 x 3mm ply
Earth wool insulating material
Paint (just grabbed a miss tint which was marked down)
Sample pot of decking oil
2 x 2.4m lengths of 25mm External Corner Pine Molding
While out of the shed I scrounged:
Some old timber beams to rip down for the face and deck of the kennel
All the 35 x 70 framing timber I needed (guessing maybe 15m all up)
Bolts for wheel axles and saddles to mount them
Grinder, Circular Saw, Table Saw, Silicone Gun, Nail Gun, Painting gear, Clamps, Drill, Impact Driver and all the rest. Keep in mind all you would really need is a hammer and a hand saw if you don't have a great range of tools it will just take a bit more time and elbow grease.
Step 3: The Build!
Despite my best intentions I (once again) failed to properly plan out the build and get a decent design drawn up. This no doubt cost me time in trying to figure stuff out as I went, luckily all I was building was a box with a hole in the front so I couldn't go too far wrong. In no way am I experienced enough in framing structures to be telling people exactly how they should be constructing the bones of their dog houses but there is plenty of info online if you are unsure of how to get it together. My job involves working on some construction sites for new homes so I just mimicked how a cavity wall structure goes together from what I could remember seeing builders do. Basically it just had to be strong enough to be able to pick up the front and wheel it around without falling apart or warping.
I started from the ground up building the frame and attaching the floor and wheels that would hopefully let me move the kennel around like a wheelbarrow when it was finished. Using some bolts for axles I attached the wheels into the cavity of the floor frame with some saddles I had. This does not give great rolling performance and I'm sure there are other better ways to do this but the end goal is for the kennel to be able to roll around when needed, it doesn't need to win any soap box derbies. Once the wheels were on I organized some feet for the front to attach at some point to get the whole thing level.
From there I screwed/nailed on the frame for the walls with an opening for the door at the front. Once the lid was together all the frame was done and ready to go, I did attach the lid to the kennel with the hinges to get an idea of how it would work but had it off in order to sheet everything up.
Step 4: The Build Part 2!
External corner pine molding was attached to the outside corners of the frame to give me an edge to work to when measuring and cutting the cement sheeting. The next step was to clad the outside of the frame and attach it with liquid nails, clamping and leaving overnight as per the directions. Cement sheeting was fairly easy to use and by working from the sheets square edges I could reduce the number of grinder cuts I had to make (don't forget your dust mask and goggles). To get the "front deck" look I was going for I priced up some decking materials like timber and composite decking but found them to be out of my budgets reach. Luckily I found a few large (cedar?) beams in the shed that had a nice grain pattern which I ripped down to suitable planks using a table saw. If you are stuck for what to use to get a similar effect someone pointed out to me that some pallet timber would look great too. To make it easier I cut up the planks and made sure they fit but didn't attach them until I had painted the exterior to save having to mask up the front.
Now that the outside is clad the insulating material can be put in. I just grabbed the cheapest stuff I could find (earth wool) which wasn't fiber glass bats (which I wanted to avoid due to how irritating/itchy it can be). When it was all stuffed in the walls I lined the interior with the 3mm ply and nailed and glued everything together. The roof got some pine molding around the top to try and provide a path for any water that gets on the kennel to flow along instead of running in under the lid and getting my dog wet.
Step 5: Paint It Up
With all the sheeting done it was time to paint. After some fix ups using some trusty gap filler 2 coats of weatherproof paint went on inside and out. The decking planks and front face were attached and got 2 coats of the decking oil and the lid was re attached now that it was all sheeted and painted. Once it was together the finished product was pretty much how I had imagined it and to my delight was easy to lift and roll around the yard.
Step 6: Put Your Dog in It!
There were some nervous moments when my dog first looked at its new house and turned her nose up in apparent disgust. Despite the temptation don't force your hound into its new home or it might become scared of it and prolong the whole transition. All I had to do was move some of her bedding into it and before long she was happily using it every night instead of her old particle board box. To make the floor softer I cut up some coriflute to size and laid it under some towels.
Building the dog box was a fun project that only took a few hours here and there when I had the time. If you have thought about making a home for your canine companion I highly recommend having a crack. You will definitely learn a thing or two (I did) and your dog will love you for it.