Introduction: Protecting Your Outside Dogs From the Cold

It does not get as cold in Northern Alabama as the northern US States but we still see occasional temperatures in the teens and sometimes even lower.

My youngest son owns two large dogs, one is a Siberian Husky and the other is a Husky mix. Their names are MAX (Maximus) and Toby. These dogs are different from most dogs in that if left outside, will develop thick fur coats to protect themselves from the cold and they even grow fur on the bottom of their feet. But even his dogs will have a hard time with temperatures in the teens and lower when the normal outside temperature rarely drops below 30F in the winter.

Another interesting trait about Huskys is they are incredibly smart and they will destroy just about anything to entertain themselves. Knowing this, if I were not planning to put back of this dog house up against an electric fence for protection I would have enclosed all the pieces in metal boxes and flexible steel conduit. This is something to consider of you are planning the same project and can't protect the wiring with the side of a building or electric fence.

Also, this project is not weather-proofed, but we only expect temperatures to drop below 20F every 5 years or so and I intend to dismantle everything after the coming cold spell is over.

Disclaimer: Don't try this if you have a house dog or a Husky who lives inside your nice warm house except for potty breaks! No matter how much extra hair your fru-fru dog grows in the winter he is not climatized to the outside winter temperatures and will likely suffer from frost bite or die if you try! Instead, you should bring your fru-fru dog inside when it gets cold.

Tom -

Step 1: Parts List

To compete this project you will need:

Dog house - We were going to build one but we found a Aspenpet dogloo II dog house at LOWES for $124.98 (1/4/2014). Some quick math showed that we could have built something cheaper with new material but not by much.

5-1/2 inch clamp light - We found this at LOWES too for $6.68 (1/4/2014).

125 Watt Heat Lamp - $3.32 (LOWES - 1/4/2014). They also had 250 watt heat lamps but I was afraid that the wattage would be too high. Also, I'm trying to keep a spot warmer than 20F, not heat the dog house the same temperature as the inside of my house.

RANCO 111000-000 Controller - Wired per this Instrucable I had published earlier.

Some scrap wood & 4 screws to make a clamp.

I chose screws that are long enough to mount the RANCO controller but short enough to only protrude into the dog house about 1/8 inch. These were left-over mini-blind screws and the tips do not come to a sharp point. If you are using something longer and sharper like sheet rock screws you will need to cut the points off to make them safe for your dogs.

Step 2: Mount the Controller

Start by making a template of the 4 mounting slots on the back of the RANCO controller.

I discovered a quick way to make a template years ago - I just lay a piece of paper on the back of whatever I want to mount then I punch through the paper with a small screwdriver, marking exactly where the screws need to go.

Then screw-in the first screw - I usually start with the top, right screw.

Then hang the template on the screw and use the template to locate & screw-in the other three.

When done you can just lift the template off the screws and the controller should hang perfectly.

Step 3: Disassemble the Bracket From the Light

The light comes with a bracket that's attached with a single wing nut.

Loosen the nut and remove the bracket.

Once the bracket is removed the base of the light fits through the hole in the top of the dog house.

Step 4: Make a Mounting Bracket

Since this is a short-term project, we made a clamp from a piece of scrap pine 2X6 then we screwed the pieces together with long sheet rock screws.

One very important step is to pre-drill holes in the two long pieces. If you don't then the wood will split apart when you try to run screws through.

Step 5: Mount the Light

Then we pushed the light up from the inside and clamped the 4 pieces together with a bar clamp while running in the 2 remaining screws.

When done the top of the dog house looks like the second picture.

Step 6: Install Doghouse and Programming

Put the doghouse in place.

As you can see the back of the dog house is against the electrical fence that protects the wiring from the dogs. If the dog house were placed anywhere else in the yard I would need to protect the controller and wiring with steel because the Siberian Huskys would literally chew the parts right off the dog house!

The RANCO controller ships with a plastic encapsulated thermistor on the end of a cable and these parts would make two nice chew toys for the Huskys. To prevent them from eating the sensor I placed the thermistor just inside a slotted vent that at the rear of the dog house.

The RANCO programs easy enough. You press the program button to switch between 4 options - I set mine to heat mode, F and 20F. I want to create a warm place for them to go to but once inside I want the dog's body heat to turn off the controller so that the heat lamp does not burn them.

Next step would be to get them used to the dog house. My son and his wife cut a old piece of carpet to fit the inside and they promptly drug the carpet out and turned it into a chew toy. The are cutting another piece and will fasten the next one to the dog house floor. This may end up being the toughest part of the entire project!

Tom -

Step 7: 1/6/14 Update

We discovered this morning that the two Huskys completely ignored their warm dog house! Instead they did what huskys do in the cold - they curled up against the warm ground, stuck their noses under their bushy tails for warmth and went to sleep, Then they got up this morning perfectly happy and hungry! It got down to 15F last night.

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