Super Comfy Dog Kennel Bed

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Introduction: Super Comfy Dog Kennel Bed

About: I am a perpetual student, researcher, and hopelessly dedicated skill collector. I hope that you can find something inspiring or useful in the instructables I publish.
My dog, Mac, spends about 10-12 hours at night in his kennel (it's OK - he likes it) - so I want it to be a comfortable place for him to be. Mac's old dog bed was getting a bit frazzled, and instead of dumping a bunch of money into another one that would have a limited life span due to questionable design and materials,  I decided to build him one structured more like a piece of furniture - one with a durable, washable, replaceable cover that could handle the occasional sickness and accidents without showing much wear and tear.  I never have understood why pet beds are made of fuzzy or soft fabrics - most pets (that you'd be building a bed for) are likely covered in fuzzy, soft, material already and probably can't tell the difference.

I also wanted to build the bed out of scraps and found materials - along with some supplies I had lying around - i.e. I didn't want to have to buy anything to make it.  Now, I realize that very few people are going to have most of these supplies "lying around" (what can I say?  I'm a pack-rat)  - but they would be readily available from most upholstery supply shops.  I buy a lot of my supplies from here: http://www.rochfordsupply.com as well as from local suppliers.

Total cost, if you were to buy everything, would probably be around $100 - which is half what I've spent in the past on beds that didn't last much more than a couple of years.  In addition, this bed can be easily cleaned (most can't) - and if the need should arise it can be recovered for about what a cheap dog bed would cost.

Supplies:
  • 1000-Denier, urethane-backed Cordura - I picked up some on clearance a few years ago (hence the cammo pattern).  It's waterproof, abrasive resistant, and tough - and was pretty inexpensive.
  • 1/2" Dacron batting
  • Scrap 2"x4" lumber for the frame
  • Scrap 1/2" or 3/4" plywood for the bolsters
  • Elasbelt Webbing - like very strong elastic - used as a replacement for springs in furniture
  • Urethane Foam - good furniture-grade foam will last a lot longer and be more comfortable
  • 1" Hook and Loop fastener - about 6 feet should do it
  • Staples, Foam Adhesive, Screws

Step 1: Build the Frame

While it IS possible to use lumber as-is, I find that taking the time to true/dimension lumber pays off in ease of construction and accuracy - so I do it.  The final dimensions on the frame sides is 3" x 1-1/4"  and the stretchers are 1" x 1-1/4".

This frame is assembled entirely with screws - no glue.  If you have a pocket-hole jig, this would be a great use for that as well. 

The goal here was a strong, square frame that could handle the continuous tension of the webbing as well as the weight of Mac.

Be sure to drill pilot holes for your screws - Why?  Because pine is notoriously easy to split.  The only time I don't drill pilot holes is if I'm using a self-drilling screw like a "Spax" brand screw - which I used to install the corner braces.

As for the rest of the description, I'll let the pictures do the talking.....

Step 2: Install the Webbing

Elasbelt Webbing is like really strong elastic - it makes great spring materials for seating surfaces - and in this case - dog beds :)  It's pretty easy to adjust how "firm" it is by how much you stretch it when installing it.  For this application, I wanted the bed to have a decent amount of "give" so I only applied about 1/2" of stretch to the webbing when I attached it.  Basically, to attach it, you staple down one end, pull it taught, mark your installed length, stretch it to that length, staple it down, cut it loose and do it again. 

Step 3: Upholstery

I used scrap foam from another project, so I had to do a little bit of splicing to get the sizes I needed.  If you use a good quality foam adhesive, there isn't any problem with the bond breaking or becoming stiff - and often the glue-line is stronger than the foam.  As with most contact adhesives, you get one chance to line things up - so - a little trick is to lay the two pieces you intend to bond on top of each other with the edges you intend to bond lined up.  Next, spray the adhesive along the exposed edges - give the adhesive time to dry a bit (usually about 5 minutes) - then just rotate the top piece over like a hinge.  There will probably be a little glue on the common edge that will act like a hinge to make it even easier to keep things aligned.

Once it was all assembled, I made sure I wasn't going to have any problems getting it in or out of the kennel - and had Mac test it out ;)

Step 4: Side Cushions

Mac, like most dogs, is a "lounger" - and he likes to lean against something while he lounges - so I wanted to build some side cushions for the bed.  One problem, of course, would be that if the side cushions were attached, they would make the bed too tall to get in and out of the kennel - so I decided to make them basically loose and have them attach to the wire frame with hook-and-loop fasteners.  I was also conscious of the fact that I didn't want them to eat up too much "floor space" - so they are relatively thin.

I had to cut up a bunch of scrap foam to make the side cushions - a bandsaw with a narrow blade is *perfect* for this.  You can also use an electric knife, or in a pinch, a hacksaw blade - but the bandsaw is the way to go if you have access to one.

I also tapered the thickness of the foam top-to-bottom by about an inch - although I'm not sure how much difference it made.  The best way to do this is to glue the foam to the backing board, and then cut the taper on the bandsaw.

Step 5: Field Testing

The final result is pretty nice.  I've already had occasion to test it's "accident worthiness" twice (Mac was sick for a couple of days) - and so I can attest to how easy it is to clean and maintain.... and Mac seems to like it, too :)

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    33 Discussions

    0
    Kitdragon2000
    Kitdragon2000

    Question 10 months ago

    Hello, This is my first question and i hope you have the chance to respond. I have been planning my great danes bed, basing it 99% off yours, and i couldnt find. How did you make sure the bed would hold your belgian? Or did you just assume? I ask because my dane's lines can get up to 200# and i'd like to make the bed sturdy enough for that at least. Do you have any suggestions? I was going to add at least 2 additional elastic on each side of the middle divide to help, but should i add more braces in the middle?

    Sorry it this it to wordy! I hope to hear back.

    0
    jwilliamsen
    jwilliamsen

    Answer 10 months ago

    Given that your dog is significantly larger - and the bed would be larger as well, I would suggest a "basket weave" for the support webbing like in the attached image. You will want to make sure that you are pre-loading the webbing sufficiently so that it doesn't just sag under minimal weight (i.e. you have to stretch the webbing before stapling it down). You might want to do a complete basket weave with no spaces - which would allow you to use less pre-load (just a possibility). The only way to "test" it is to maybe attach a few rows, put your cushion on top of it, and then press down to see how much force it would take to bottom out - then take that information and multiply it times the number of support strips. You could also just stretch your supports (maybe minimal spacing) along one axis, then test those strips to see if they give adequate support, and if not, start adding cross woven strips - i.e. add a center strip and test. Then two strips to either side and test, then keep adding as you need them.

    Remember, it's not the end of the world if it bottoms out in a few spots under focused weight - like standing - but you want it to support the dog fully when they are laying on it. It's also worth noting that if you add cross-weave, you will need to support the frame perpendicular to that axis as well. Even if you only put 20lbs of pre-load on each strip, if you have 15 of them, that's 300lbs of force that the frame has to deal with - not including the dog ;)

    Good luck! Just FYI, that same dog bed has been going strong all this time - it's holding up really well.

    FXS010WH4AG8T5N.jpg
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    Kitdragon2000
    Kitdragon2000

    Reply 10 months ago

    Thank you so much!

    i apologize if this sounds dence, but supporting the frame perpendicular as in adding support wood in length wise as well as depthwise? I think I will do the basket weave as you suggested it was getting close to that anyway on my draft so it won’t hurt much.

    I want to make sure I give enough support, last thing I need is it breaking while she’s laying on it. My girl is “sensitive” (insert eye roll) if something scares her she rarely does it again including kenneling if her foot gets caught because She didn’t pick it up high enough. (Can you tell she did this already?)

    and I’m not surprised it still lasts!! It’s a great piece of work!! And I’ve heard some amazing things about the material you used. Has your dog had any accidents on it? Does it sleep through?

    0
    jwilliamsen
    jwilliamsen

    Reply 10 months ago

    Yes - if going with a "basket weave", adding supports in both directions would be a good idea, unless you are using a much more robust material like thick (5/4 or thicker) hardwood for your frame - and even then, I'd still recommend it. You may also want to glue some support blocks in the corners to reinforce the joint - can't hurt. Using a lap joint where the supports cross would be my recommendation, but you could probably get away with just butt-joints on the cross members if you don't want to go to that much effort (just remember: you won't care about the extra time you spent making lap joints 6 months from now - you'll care about how well-built the structure is, though).

    This bed is on it's third dog now - it outlived my last two - and yes, it's seen it's share of battle scars. Pretty much everything that can come out of a body has happened at one point or another, and when it does, you take it outside, hose it off, scrub it with some detergent, hose it off again, and let it dry. If you're using coated Cordura, the water won't get to the padding. If you're worried about odors, just sprinkle a generous layer of baking soda on it, let it set for an hour or two, and either rinse or vacuum it off. My newest rescue is a "shredder" when he gets frustrated, and while he hasn't done any noticeable damage to the bed (not for lack of trying) ... the same can't be said of my lawn, garden hose, lawnmower bag ... sigh ;)

    frame.JPG
    0
    Kitdragon2000
    Kitdragon2000

    Reply 10 months ago

    thank you so much! you have been beyond helpful and i really appreciate it! And that feedback is Exactly what i was hoping to hear!! I'd like to ultimately switch most of my animal beds and such to it. I foster, rescue, and breed so i have all kinds of bodily fluids going through! Lol.

    Thank you so much for the pictures as well! It certainly makes life much easier! As soon as i move i plan to build it and will post pictures!! Thank you again!

    im sorry i have 1 more question. i was initially going to do 2 corner braces on each corner, would the bumpers (Right thats what you called it?) be better? Sorry im trying to learn all this on my own and want to make sure i understand right.

    0
    jwilliamsen
    jwilliamsen

    Reply 10 months ago

    Some beefy corner braces (possibly "table braces") would work, too. I just tend to use wood because it's strong, inexpensive, and usually there's scraps around that will work just fine. Just FYI, also have a preference for polyurethane glue - like Gorilla Glue - as opposed to yellow glue - because it's strong, bonds incredibly well, and is completely waterproof (just remember to dampen your joints before you glue up).

    0
    Kitdragon2000
    Kitdragon2000

    Reply 10 months ago

    these are the 3 corners im thinking of, would it be overkill if i did both like in the bottom LT corner? i know it would cost a bit more but i bet it would last like yours!

    meg base.jpg
    0
    jwilliamsen
    jwilliamsen

    Reply 10 months ago

    The thing about that joint design - with the two cross-braces - is that while you have more "leverage" over the stability of the joint, the connection is intrinsically weaker and prone to twisting - it will not stabilize the corner joint against twisting. If you were to glue and screw those braces into place, the joint would be still be fairly weak because you are gluing end-grain to long-grain - which is a very weak joint.

    Glue joints in wood, ideally, are long-grain to long-grain bonds which are much stronger. What you are looking for is bonded surface area - in which case, even a small-ish wedge in the corner would have more bonded surface area than the two-strut design. If you DO want more robust corners, a design like the one attached (using a section of 4x4 lumber) would be a good choice - just make sure to keep the grain orientation like what is shown in the attached image.

    joint and grain.jpg
    0
    Kitdragon2000
    Kitdragon2000

    Reply 10 months ago

    ok that makes sense. thank you so much!

    0
    Fotobuff57
    Fotobuff57

    4 years ago

    How many yards did you use for this project?

    0
    jwilliamsen
    jwilliamsen

    Reply 4 years ago

    Just a rough estimate - based on the size of bed I built - is about 2 1/2 Yards of cover material.

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    be1
    be1

    7 years ago

    My boyfriend and I just finished making a version of you dog bed. Love it! So does our 4 month old lab Bo.

    13, 7:10 PM.jpg
    0
    jwilliamsen
    jwilliamsen

    Reply 7 years ago

    Awesome! It looks great! Thanks for posting a picture :)

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    littlebadwren

    What a fantastic idea. I LOVE the cushioned sides to separate the doggie from the metal crate . Our beagles spend about 8 hrs at night in their crates and it would be great for them to have this extra "plush" to sleep against. thank you!!!

    0
    foehn
    foehn

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Nice bed, your dog looks happy in it--BUT I hope he gets out during the "10-12 hours at night in his kennel." I mean, dogs gotta pee sometimes during the night too! 10-12 hours is a LONG time to hold it!

    0
    jwilliamsen
    jwilliamsen

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    It actually depends on the breed and what they've been trained to do. Some people inadvertently train their dogs to go constantly - and then some dogs just don't have much "capacity" (baby-bladder syndrome). Malinois are known for their ability to "hold it" and sometimes Mac will get out in the morning and go lay in his bed in the kitchen and won't ask to be let out for a few more hours. I call him the "pee camel" - lol. He's gone more than 24 hours a few times in the past - which kind of freaked me out at first - but he gets to go when he wants, so I had faith he'd let me know. Then again when he DOES go, he goes for a looooooong time... it's like draining a swimming pool - lol.

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    foehn
    foehn

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Our little dog survives fine for the night, but I always try to get her out before bedtime for me. If she is really desperate, she will whine (rarely) for us to let her out. She is quite patient when asking to go out.

    I guess I am used to females (being a female myself)--I know you guys can hold it longer!

    Has your dog ever asked to go out while still in his crate? And if he is crated at night, why is he crated?-- or should I ask, is he locked in his crate for all night, and if so, why? is he especially destructive or something? Once our dogs are house trained, they got run of the house, ( and some were biggies, up to 90 lbs or so, female all).

    Jus' wondering. . . ;-) We had kittens that we had to crate at night because they would get on counters and knock all sorts of stuff off. They were just too kittenly-destructive to be allowed to race the house at night (and we needed our sleep!).

    0
    jwilliamsen
    jwilliamsen

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Mac isn't destructive - at least not any more (unless you're a stuffed toy). When I rescued him (he was about 5 years old) he didn't know how to behave in the house - he'd had a pretty rough life up to that point - so - I kenneled him to keep him from making mistakes and to help him feel safe. Now, he likes being in there, and he feels uncomfortable if the door isn't closed when he's put down for the night - although latching the door is unnecessary. His kennel is *his*space.

    There have been times when he's whined a little at night (he's not very vocal) to get out, and there are times I've heard him "circling" so those are his way of saying he wants to go outside - but it's rare - maybe once or twice a year.