This was my very first instructable. I was debating on a project to build for a class, when it kind of fell into my lap. I hope all newbies and novice dog owners alike, enjoy it.
Being a brand new proud puppy owner, I grabbed the obvious essentials. Food, water and something to chew on besides my shoes. While skimming through google on how to keep this new addition to our family happy, healthy and alive, I found the article "Dog Dens" by the American Humane Society quoting
" Dogs are den animals. They need their own sanctuary that is just large enough for them to fit inside and feel secure. They need a "home away from home" where they can go when they are stressed. If you don't provide your dog a "den" of its own, it may make do with whatever is around -- a chair, the narrow place behind the couch, or the wedge of space between the bed and the wall. Once your dog realizes that the crate is a sanctuary and that no one can bother it while it is in its "den," your dog will begin to seek out the crate on its own."
While we were still debating whether Max would be an indoor dog or outdoor, it was clear that he needed a den. A quick look at Petco.com and similar sites it was also clear a brand new dog house was not in the budget. They ranged from $200-$600! What a rip off! My head started spinning. I cannot have poor Max roaming around forever seeking out a den. Just as I was contemplating my ability to be a dog mom I realized most of them looked pretty simple. So simple I thought this is something I can make and would be perfect for my first instructable.
I saw many lavish, DIY dog house projects, ones I would even consider moving into. Since this was not only my first DIY project but also one of the very few times I have used tools, I figured I should shoot for a house more realistic. I wanted a standard wood layout with four post. I added my own little quirks with a spot for flowers and a chalk board material on the outside.
Getting a dog or any pet for that matter, especially unexpected, can be a handful and a punch to your wallet. Do not let those fancy pet stores take advantage of you. Do not let them turn your joy of getting a "mans best friend" (or as I like to argue a womans) into a financial burden, build your own dog house! All you need is basic home tools and a little bit of elbow grease. If I can do it, anyone can do it! Since I only had time to take one shot at it, I put exactly how I built it but also added in notes to how I would have changed it if I could. Feel free to learn from my mistakes.
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Step 1: Step 1: What You Will Need
⦁ Wood and lots of it.
⦁ Paint ( non-toxic and non-oil based)
⦁ Finishing Trim Pieces
⦁ Interlocking Foam Floor Tiles ( I found this for around $30 on Houzz.com)
⦁ Sanding Paper
⦁ Permanent Marker
⦁ Painting Tape
⦁ A saw. Obviously the fancier the saw the easier it will be but any saw will work.
I used a 7 1/4 in corded circular saw.
⦁ Nail gun is preferred but if you're like me hammer will do. (Add elbow grease)
⦁ Paint Brush
⦁ Safety glasses, gloves and anything else that will make you feel more protected.
⦁ Measuring Tape
⦁ Staple Gun
Step 2: Step 2: Prepare the Wood
I chose to build my dog house out of wood, solely on the fact that we had plenty of it laying around at our shop.
I found an article on Dog.com stating;
"Wood is the best and most common material for dog houses construction. Metal and plastic absorb heat and cold, fluctuating with the weather and providing a less-than-perfect environment in extreme weather conditions. When choosing wood, make sure it is not pressure treated and be wary of any toxic substances, such as paint and stains. A good rule of thumb is that if it is safe for kids, then it is safe for your dog. It is also important to look for any sharp edges on the house and to make sure any hardware is well concealed to minimize the chances of your dog getting hurt and needing a trip to the vet."
Next is to pull all of the nails out of the wood. If you are working with used wood , this is a vital step. One little missed nail can cause huge harm for your fur baby. We want to diminish cost not safety. I did this just by standing on the wood ( again watch where you are stepping, nails will go right through your shoe) and using the back of the hammer to pull them out. I bagged them all and saved for later steps.
You also want to check for any holes or cracks. If you have any you will need to fill them with wood filler
This is where I would highly suggest you sand the wood. I made the big mistake of not sanding until after it was all put together. It was such a hassle. A power sanding tool will go faster but where is the fun in that? Use a medium grit #120 or #150. Purchasing a contoured sand block that attaches the sand paper to it is also an option. Those that want to stay on the limited budget path like me, just keeping pushing through, you can do it! Although this may sound obvious to most, make sure to sand WITH the grain.
Step 3: Step 3: Measure, Measure, Cut
This will seem like the easiest step of the process but it can also be the most crucial. Wood and time are the most valuable asset in this project and you do not want to go wasting either one. My fellow classmate, when hearing I was under taking this project, said "measure twice, cut once."
I decided to make it four feet tall, 3.75 feet long and make the entrance 3.25 feet long. Obviously a little dog could easily get lost in that, so measure what you deem appropriate.
Measure first the four "pillars" at four feet tall. Initially we wanted to make the house slanted but decided against it and made the pillars all the same height. Mark it with a permanent marker. Make sure to be wearing safety glasses. Double check your mark. Cut. Go slow and precise with the saw. Keep a firm grip on at all times. Start over if the blade wanders from the line. You should also be doing this in a well ventilated area.
To just have all the pieces readily available, you should cut all of the wood at this time. I cut six pieces to be the side at 3.75 feet long. I stacked all of them on top of each other, to insure they matched. I did not want to mess with the height of the side boards only the length. They were a good height already and I was not sure how smooth I could cut them. It took three of them on each side to reach the top of the pillar, so I am assuming they are about 1.3 feet tall.
Four pieces are cut for the back and front at 3.25 feet long. Also we had a very thin piece we cut at 3.25 to be like the archway of the door. The wooden door is going to be used as one big piece for the roof. I cut this at 3.25 feet also.
To leave room for the entry way, I cut the piece for the front at half the length as the back, so roughly 1.7 feet and half the length of the height so 2 feet.
Let's recap on that. We should have four pillar post at four feet tall. Six side post at 3.75 feet length. Four pieces at 3.25 feet long. A thin one cut also at 3.25 feet long and a random piece cut at 2 feet tall by 1.7 feet long.
This was the most hazardous step so congratulations if you made it this far all fingers and toes intact!
Step 4: Step 4: Building Frames and Sides
Use the nails you worked so hard to pry out and hammer them back in.
You will need at least one other person helping you for this step. One person holds the four foot post solid, while the other nails one of the 3.75 feet into it. It is easier if you have two other people helping you. That way one person holds each 4 foot post steady while the other nails them in.
We hammered in three nails at each end for each piece. I would say this is sufficient enough , although you can always use more, I would advise against using any less.
Next nail in the 3.25 feet board. By this time you should have a little 'L' shaped house coming along. It should all be sturdy enough to stand on its own. Nail in the third pillar to the other end of this board. Nail a 3.75 feet board, followed by nailing your last four foot pillar. Now your frame should be complete. Check that the pillars are the same height and you do not have any extra wood hanging off the side boards.
Nail another two of the 3.75 foot boards on each side. This should make the sides up to the height of the pillar. Ta-Dah! Walls! Two more of the 3.25 boards on the back and it should resemble a house with no roof . If by this time you are wondering if you should of have just splurged on a house, you are probably doing something right but do not worry victory is just around the corner.
Step 5: Step 5: the Roof, Front and Floor
You want to do the roof last so you can see properly and be able to maneuver around easier. Take your last thick 3.25 feet long board and nail it at the top, between the two front pillars. Take the very thin 3.25 board and nail it right underneath to both pillars. It will over lap the other board a little. This thinner piece will be the support for the flower holder. Now the 2 foot tall by 1.7 feet will be nailed to the thin piece on the top and nailed to the pillar on the side.
There is many things you can use for the floor of the dog house. I decided on the interlocking foam floor tiles. They are sanitary, easy to clean, insulated and water proof. Keep those factors in mind when choosing your floor.
Placing the roof was one of the simplest parts. Throw the thing on top and nail it down! I used about five nails on each side, again nail what amount makes you feel comfortable.
Step 6: Step 6: Daisy and Finishing
Finally my favorite part! Before we even started building this house, I knew I wanted a place to bring flowers for Max or put holiday decorations on. With left over scraps of wood, take a 1.5 foot long square. Nail three sides on top of it. One piece is 1.5 foot long and the other two are .75 feet long for the sides of this small box. Place the open side on the wall of the front of the house. The thinner board should be supporting it. Nail the inside of the box that is touching the thin board. Here is a little unique space to use.
The finishing trim pieces, I was also fortunate to have, are supposed to give the edges a finished look. I had a difficult time cutting them to the size I needed so some corners look awkward. If you do not have a way to cut them to proper size, I would skip this step. Stapling them with a stapler gun is necessary. Keep fingers out of the way and glasses on.
Step 7: Step 6: Painting?
I made the poor choice of using spray paint. I found some in our garage and thought it would work. It was going well until the white ran out. I grabbed some red to test it out and then black until I was left a mess. Something Piccasso might have painted while drunk. While the thrill of painting sounds good I would not suggest it. I found an article on animalwellnessmagazine.com that stated;
"A study done by Johns Hopkins University indicated that more than 300 toxic chemicals and 150 carcinogens may be present in one can of paint. Some of these toxins could be ammonia, benzene, ethanol, formaldehyde, glycols, kerosene and plastics. Chemicals like toluene, a known carcinogen, can damage the heart and kidneys (of animals)."
Though there are supposedly safe alternatives in paint, it is not worth the risk.
If you decide to paint, please look for safe paint. Do not try to take short cuts like I did.Use an actual paint brush , use the painting tape and save yourself some of the trouble I went through.
At the end of the day, your new four legged friend is not going to fuss about the color or structure of his safe haven. He is not going to know how much effort and time you put into it but you will. Every time you catch them snoozing in it, you will know you did that. Nothing can replace that feeling of accomplishment. I encourage you to take on this big DIY project today.