Introduction: The Dog House Project

Back in January of 2015. We received a gift from a friend. Furry one. Oh the joy of mopping up he’s first puddle off our hallway carpet.

Unfortunately, my allergies prohibit us from keeping a dog in the house, so we decided to keep him outside in the boiler room for the winter. We already had an old dog house in the back yard which he, as soon as the spring came, immediately claimed as he’s own.

Fast forward to the autumn of that year, it was already getting cold, and since the winter here can be quite harsh from time to time, I decided to take no chances and make him a proper dog house. We love our animals and want them to, not only survive but be comfortable. It had to be well insulated, so I dived into my research.

Step 1:

Since wolves naturally live in dens, and have lived for thousands of years, I decided to go with that kind of concept.

Step 2: This Is What I Came Up With

I used the retaining wall to which the old dog house was attached to, as an entry point to make more space in the front. Of course I had to make a hole in the wall big enough for him to go through. Also I dug a wide enough space in the back in order to start my construction.

Step 3:

He immediately became curious as to what was going on and why the hell did I destroy he’s old dwelling…

Step 4:

…but was quite happy once he figured it out.

Step 5: Ground Work

After the digging and drilling part was over, I poured some sand at the base and started laying out the bricks. I also had to put something over the entrance to prevent him from jumping in all the time.

Next I found some 3/8” old iron pipes I had laying around, bent them to make an arch, and attached an iron L shaped bar to the opposing wall to provide them with support. Then I pounded some iron bars into the ground and seated the pipes onto them. I also drilled the top ends of the pipes and the L shaped bar, put a nail through and bent it from below. Redneck, I know, but it works well.

Step 6: Interior

I found some old planks (2x120x1200mm / roughly 0.8x4.8x47in) and made metal brackets to hold them in place. I used ordinary wood screws to attach the two. Then I cut the back part of the plank flush with the rest with a hand saw.

Also (not visible in the shot), I made a simple wooden board from the same planks for the floor inside as well as the side wall, and put polyethylene foil (or nylon if you will) I had laying around from my greenhouse, over the bricks. In between it and the planks I put Styrofoam for added insulation from below.

Note: Making of the brackets took too much time to complete, a better approach would be to simply buy perforated steel tape and cut it to length.

I proceeded to put the back boards in place, cutting them with a hand saw and fitting into place.

Step 7: Insulation and Exterior

After the planks I put more PE foil over it to prevent the insulation from crumbling and falling in between the planks. Then I proceeded to putting insulation over it. I mainly used expanded polyurethane foam sheets (the yellow stuff you put around new windows when installing them, only in sheet form). You can use glass wool as well, since it’s much easier to put in. It just so happened that I had these sheets on hand while making it, and buying an entire roll of glass wool for insulating a small peace didn’t seem practical.

Step 8:

For the outer shell I used a couple of old barrels, which I cut vertically and bent outward to shape them according to the construction. I latter used a 4mm drill bit to make holes through them and anchor the metal with 100mm/4in nails. The nails went straight through the plating, the insulation and the wooden planks and ended up protruding from the inside, so I crawled up inside and bent them sideways with a hammer, to make sure they wouldn’t pull out or injure the dog (but I guess he would rather use he’s new iron maiden for scratching he’s back). I repeated the same process for the back, except I used a peace of thinner scrap sheet metal.

At this point I started to wonder if the dogs body heat itself would be enough to warm up the space (caves might have a constant temperature inside, but it’s still cold). Having been inside, it didn’t seem like enough, so I didn’t want to risk it. I proceeded to install electrical wiring to supplement the heating if necessary.

I used alupex pipe along the top edge of the house next to the wall to run the cable through and provide protection from mechanical damage. The cable basically enters the house from the top back part.

I also made a vent hole on the top by making two cross cuts with an angle grinder, bending them upward and cutting them off. Inside I used a simple hole saw for my drill.

The pipe was 50mm/2in in diameter and went through from below. The remaining slack between the pipe and the shell was filled in with insulation scraps.

I later used a peace of mosquito net on the end of the pipe to prevent insects from going in.

Step 9: The Burial

Before I started piling back the dirt, I’ve put some rocks around the house to make a slope, and put an oversized layer of PE foil to keep out the moisture.

Then I proceeded to pile on the first layer. After the dirt had covered most of the house and made an even gentler slope, I’ve put another layer of PE foil. This will prevent the rainfall from saturating the deeper layers of soil and making the overall weight and pressure on the house lesser by draining the water down the slope and away from the house.

Then came the final layer, about 15cm/6in thick at the top. I would recommend an entire foot if you can, since the soil will get compacted over time.

Step 10: Finishing Touches

I ran the rest of the power cable along the wall and into the nearest electrical box out of which I pulled out another cable for the light switch.

Note: It started to rain, so I had to improvise. Shoveling wet dirt isn’t exactly my idea of fun.

Step 11:

Inside I used a room thermostat and a 250W light bulb, which I attached to the back of the house and made a cover for it with a 150mm/5.5in wide peace of sheet metal (to prevent him from burning himself and to avoid damage from tail wagging).

Later I cut a peace of old carpet and fixed it to the wall over the entrance with anchors and a peace of flat iron bar. I also cut it vertically with an utility knife to help him go through.

He immediately rushed in, and with that it was finally done (he obviously doesn’t like blankets inside).

Stay tuned for Part 2.