The Dog House Project 2.0

Introduction: The Dog House Project 2.0

Autumn of last year (2019) we adopted a stray female dog. She’s an older golden retriever and doesn’t handle cold well. It was time to have another go at building an earth sheltered dog house.

The concept remained the same, except that there was no side wall to lean on. It had to be a full arch structure. I also made a couple of tweaks to the original concept along the way.

Here’s how it went.

Over the years the earth had settled and the initial dog house for the first dog looked like this (we had to cover it because of the turkeys).

I had to dig up the dirt to make room for another house, and to check the condition of the PE sheets underneath. They were in the same condition as the day I’ve put them.

Step 1:

I marked the shape of the entrance over the retaining wall with a marker and started by drilling a bunch of holes along the edge with a 20mm drill bit. It goes without saying, use sharp drill bits. It will save you a lot of time and effort.

After the drilling was done, I used a chisel extension for my drill and started to break away chunks of the wall. It went much faster with the pre drilled holes.

Step 2:

I’m still here in case you’re wondering (and no, I’m not tied up all the time).

Step 3:

With the entrance complete, I dug about 20cm of dirt below the surface to make room for the groundwork. I’ve laid some of the smaller wall pieces down for drainage and poured sand over them.

Step 4:

It immediately had to be checked out by the construction inspector.

Step 5:

Then came the bricks and iron bars for the arches. I used mostly the same materials as in the previous dog house build.

Step 6:

Some more inspection.

Step 7:

After the bricks were laid and the arches installed, I poured sand in between the bricks and laid a peace of PE sheet to prevent the moisture from coming up out of the ground.

Step 8:

The floorboard came next. Same insulation with Styrofoam beneath.

Step 9:


Step 10:

Next I’ve cut the planks to length and started to mount them onto the pipes.

The key difference here, and the thing that saved me a lot of grief and effort, was that I used perforated steel tape for my brackets instead of bending the flat iron bars into shape.

They’re easy to bend and are flexible, but also tough enough to hold the planks in place. I simply used sheet metal scissors to cut them to length and bent them into shape with pliers.

Step 11:

Since the surface of the wall wasn’t perfectly flush, some of the planks ended up protruding more than others, so I simply trimmed them with a hand saw.

Step 12:

The back planks were cut to width on the spot and the excess removed with a jigsaw.

Step 13:

Next came the PE sheet and insulation.

Step 14:

At this point I’ve installed the outer metal shell made out of old oil barrels (clean mind you) and the back plating from a peace of old water heater sheet. Same 10cm/6” nails were used to fix it into place.

The base of the wall was protruding out and stopping the barrel from coming against it all the way, hence there was about a 1/2” gap between the wall and the metal shell. This was somewhat useful for running the power cable for the heating through, but the insulation would come into contact with the soil, so I used expanding polyethylene foam to fill in that space. I also used the remaining foam to seal any gaps in between the metal sheets.

Once it hardened, I’ve put the first layer of PE foil over it and started laying some rocks around to keep it in place and reduce the amount of dirt needed for burial.

Step 15:

It was time to burry the house. I’ve rolled down the PE sheet for the first house and started piling on the dirt.

Step 16:

Once I filled in the gap between the two houses, I covered them both with a larger PE sheet and continued piling on the dirt.

Step 17:

Then came the heating inside. I used the same lightbulb / thermostat solution as in the previous build, except the lightbulb was now fixed to the back of the house, instead of the side.

Step 18:

Lastly, I drilled a few holes above the entrance and afixed a peace of carpet with a flat iron bar.

Step 19:

First test run was successful.

Step 20:

Once the final inspection was done, I could finaly rest my aking joints, with a sense of satisfaction that the project was complete. I also decided that having two dogs was quite enough of a challenge for me.

Step 21:

Few months later....

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    2 years ago

    Very nice! Given the last image, are there more dog houses in your future?


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you very much.
    Not sure to tell you the truth. There are already people asking to adopt some of the puppies, so it might be the case that they all find a home. I would certanly like to try and build a house that's a stand alone structure, without the front wall. Also I would like to find some kind of solution to changing the light bulbs, since now I have to crawl in throug the entrance.


    Reply 2 years ago

    I'm not sure how much work it would be but one solution might be to remove the earth from the back of the dog dens and make a small door to hold the heater lights. Just open the door, with the heater attached and change the light. Then replace the earth that was there with an easily replaceable insulation of some sort and a weather proof cover. Again, I am not sure just how easy or hard it would be to do that but it was an idea that I had. Still a great project as is.


    2 years ago

    well done!


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks. Glad you like it. :)