Even if you don't have an inner-woodworker to satiate, you may want to build a house for your dog. With the right tools, materials and know-how, you could build Fletcher his dream house as a weekend project. If you're not a carpenter by trade, it's smart to start out with plans for a simple doghouse that's easy for a beginner to build.
Likely, you want Fletcher's house to be as attractive to look at as it is comfortable for the dog to live in. But really, other than a weather-tight floor, all his dog house needs are walls and a roof. You can cut all the pieces from one 8-foot by 4-foot piece of plywood siding. Some doghouse plans might have you build a frame first; you can simplify the process by attaching frame pieces directly to the panel pieces ahead of assembly. This will enhance the stability of the doghouse without having to assemble a frame first.
Doghouse plans for beginners should call for materials that are easy to find. Outdoor-grade plywood siding, an 8-foot-long 2-by-4, finishing nails, wood glue and weatherproof paint or stain are available at a hardware or home store. You may want to finish the roof with shingles, but an option is to cover it with a tarp. You'll need a measuring tape and a hammer. You'll also need table and circular saws, a square, clamps, a caulking gun and weatherproof caulk.
It might be a funny sight to see a Chihuahua sitting in the doorway of a doghouse built for a mastiff, but building a doghouse the appropriate size for a specific dog's body is a serious matter. The space should be big enough that he has room to turn around in, but it should be small enough that it will warm efficiently with just his body heat, an especially important feature if your neck of the woods gets cold weather in the winter. In "The Dog Friendly Home: DIY Projects for Dog Lovers" Ruth Strother reveals a simple way to determine the size of your dog's house. The height should be 6 inches taller than your dog's standing height at the top of the shoulder. The width and the length should be 6 inches wider and longer than the measurement you get by drawing a rectangle around the dog when he is sleeping.
Knowing how insulation benefits your home, you might think it's a good idea to include some in Fletcher's house. But with his inclination for chewing, insulation can pose a health problem if it gets exposed and Fletcher starts gnawing on it. Avoid it should. You'll have to seal up gaps and seams with weatherproof caulk, but a completely airtight house is as much a health hazard as one with cracks and leaks. Be sure that your plans include a vent to promote air circulation, which will discourage mold growth. If the plans don't direct you to cut a vent into the house, you can create one by drilling three half-inch holes above the door, close to the roofline. Also, the floor of the doghouse should be off the ground to keep it from rotting. A frame made of 2-by-4s with a supporting 2-by-4 running down the middle will suffice.
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