How to Build a Custom Insulated Dog House

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

RON HAZELTON:
Charles and Amy Trusty live in a suburban area here with sons Zack and Zane and their family pet, Sebastian. Hardly out of the puppy stage, Sebastian is growing too rambunctious to spend long hours inside the house. So today, I'm going to help the Trustys build Sebastian a sturdy home of his own.

Hey Sebastian, what a good boy. He's a Border Collie, right?
CHARLES TRUSTY:
Yeah, sure is.
RON HAZELTON:
And they really like to run, don't they?
AMY TRUSTY:
Yes, he has a lot of energy and that's why we're wanting to make him an outside dog.
RON HAZELTON:
Well, he's got a great backyard here. Where were you thinking about putting the doghouse?
CHARLES TRUSTY:
Up here against the back of the house.
RON HAZELTON:
A couple things I want to keep in mind as we design this. We want to make it large enough so that he's not cramped, he has plenty of room to move around in there, but small enough so that it will contain his body heat and keep him warm in cooler weather.

To figure out the right dimensions, I need to take some measurements and [LAUGHS] measuring a Border Collie is a challenging task.

Come here. I won't hurt you. It's just a tape measure. Here, Sebastian, look. [WHISTLES]

According to the American Humane Society, the height of a doghouse should be the height of the dog plus 9 inches. The length should be the dog's length plus 18 inches. And the width, his length plus 12 inches.

Length 32.
CHARLES TRUSTY:
All right.
RON HAZELTON:
Boy, okay — 32 by 22.

My plans call for a cozy insulated, two-room house that will permit Sebastian to see outside or to be completely sheltered. We'll add a slanted roof for rain runoff.

So here we've got all the pieces for the frame base. Now, this is pressure-treated lumber because it's going to be in direct contact with the ground. One thing to keep in mind though when you're building pet structures is you don't want the pets to come in contact with pressure-treated lumber. It's not healthy for them.

So this is all going to be covered over. Sebastian won't have — won't touch this, but it will keep this from rotting out because it's sitting on the ground.

Amy draws clearance holes for three-inch rust-resistant deck screws, which will hold the frame together.

Now we're ready to cut several sheets of plywood which will be used for the floor, roof and walls.

Amy, I bet you haven't used a circular saw.
AMY TRUSTY:
I have never used —
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
RON HAZELTON:
Why do I have a feeling you've never used it?
AMY TRUSTY:
It looks a little intimidating. [LAUGHS]
RON HAZELTON:
Yeah.
AMY TRUSTY:
Yes. [LAUGHS]
RON HAZELTON:
It is. No, it's not.
[AMY LAUGHS]
It's really not. Come over here. Come over here. The main thing is let gravity do part of the work here, the base of this, just let it sit on top of the plywood. All you have to do is push this through and apply just some gentle pressure up against this straight edge.

Amy cuts as far as she can reach, then hands off to Charles to complete the cut. In order to have a slanted roof, our side walls must be angled at the top. To accomplish this, I plant the straight edge at the desired angle. Amy and Charles once again use the circular saw to make the cut.

With all our plywood panels trimmed to size, it's time to assemble the doghouse. We start with the floor.

Well, the question is, does it fit?
CHARLES TRUSTY:
It seems to fit.
RON HAZELTON:
Oh, it looks good.
AMY TRUSTY:
It looks pretty good.
RON HAZELTON:
To attach the floor to the base, Amy drills pilot holes about every 10 inches and Charles follows behind, driving in screws.

Now this is what you call a doghouse-raising.
[MUSIC]
Wall number two. Now these L-shaped pieces that you guys put together, I want to put right in here, just like this.

We've assembled these corner braces by screwing a couple of 2 x 4s together. We'll first attach the braces to the side walls, then fasten the front and back walls to the braces. These corner braces will reinforce the walls and block drafts from blowing through.
With Charles and Amy busy putting up the exterior walls, I'm installing a frame for the interior partition.

We attach a plywood skin to the frame and a support post, then just as the doghouse begins to take shape, threatening storm clouds roll in, followed by a true Midwest thunderstorm.

So we've moved in here in the garage and actually, this is not a bad time to put this down off the table and onto the floor. It's probably going to be easier to reach it this way. I've also added a couple of braces here, here and here.

Now we're ready to put our insulation in. We're going to be using this. This is rigid foam insulation. We've actually glued two pieces together — a one-inch piece and a half-inch piece and we're going to start by dropping this right inside our frames.

So just grab something over there that looks like it might fit and we'll see if it indeed it does.
AMY TRUSTY:
It's like putting a puzzle together.
RON HAZELTON:
Yeah, this is —
CHARLES TRUSTY:
I've got the wrong piece.
RON HAZELTON:
Next, we cover the insulation with quarter-inch plywood panels.

— keep Sebastian from snacking on that insulation. Why don't we start right here, Charles.
CHARLES TRUSTY:
Okay.
RON HAZELTON:
Right here. Amy, right here. And then, work your way down. I'm telling you, it's feeling snug as a bug in here right now. Start at the bottom, guys.
CHARLES TRUSTY:
Okay.
RON HAZELTON:
So do you think Sebastian's going to be happy in here?
AMY TRUSTY:
Well, if Sebastian isn't, I'm sure our four-year-old will be.
RON HAZELTON:
You know, that thought occurred to me. This is almost a playhouse, if it was much bigger. All right. You know, could we call Sebastian for just a second?
AMY TRUSTY:
Sure.
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
RON HAZELTON:
I wanted to consult with him about this.
AMY TRUSTY:
Sebastian, all right.
RON HAZELTON:
Hey, buds, listen, I wanted to decide how high to make your door. So what do you think? I'm thinking like something maybe just above your back, right here. Would this be okay up here? Right up here?
AMY TRUSTY:
Oh, yeah. Oh, that's nice. All right, great.
RON HAZELTON:
He says yes.

With Sebastian's specifications outlined on the wall, Amy cuts the doorway out with a jigsaw and we screw the final wall section into place. Next, the roof goes on. We allow a slight overhang to keep rain runoff away from the walls, then cover the plywood with water-resistant roofing felt or tar paper which we attach with staple tackers.

We also add a drip cap along the edges of the roof. This L-shaped piece of metal prevents water from seeping under the shingles and into the edge of the plywood.

All right, time to do a little painting now.

Finally, we nail our shingles into place, starting at the bottom and overlapping each row.

Well done.

Well, the rain's stopped and we've moved the doghouse out in the yard where it's going to live and we’ve added a hinge along the rear edge of the roof. The reason for that is, it makes it real easy to clean by simply lifting up the front edge like this. Well, Charles, I think we did a pretty good job.
CHARLES TRUSTY:
It looks great to me.
RON HAZELTON:
But actually, we're not the ones who are going to live in here, so I think we ought to ask the guy who is. Hey, Sebastian.
CHARLES TRUSTY:
[WHISTLES] Come here, boy.
RON HAZELTON:
Want to try this out?

AMY TRUSTY:
Come on —
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
RON HAZELTON:
How about a little food.
AMY TRUSTY:
Look at this.
RON HAZELTON:
Just sort of a — yeah, yeah, a welcoming dinner in there. How about that?
AMY TRUSTY:
Oh, great.
RON HAZELTON:
Nothing like having dinner in your new house. Well, guys, that was fun. I liked working with you.
AMY TRUSTY:
We had a —
RON HAZELTON:
You were great with the tools.

AMY TRUSTY:
Thanks. We had a great time.
CHARLES TRUSTY:
We had an excellent time.
RON HAZELTON:
And I think he's going to like the new house.
CHARLES TRUSTY:
He will.
AMY TRUSTY:
He definitely will.
RON HAZELTON:
And just remember, if you have to go to the doghouse now, well, it's not such a bad deal.
CHARLES TRUSTY:
No.

Pamper your pooch with this perfect-fit palace

This customized doghouse can be made to fit any sized dog and will offer your pooch all the comforts of home - warmth, protection, comfort and privacy. Download our free plans.

Size the Parts
Step 1

Size the Parts

To size the parts for your doghouse, make the width equal to your dog's length plus 12". The length equals the dog's length plus 18". And the height equals the dogs height plus 9" in the front and sloping back to the dog's height plus 3" in the back.

Build the Base
Step 2

Build the Base

After you've determined the size of the doghouse, cut the base parts to length from pressure-treated 2x4's. Then butt the ends together and secure the joints with weather-resistant screws. Cut a floor panel to fit from 3/4"-plywood and secure it to the base with weather-resistant screws.

Angle the Sides
Step 3

Angle the Sides

To keep your pooch dry, the roof sits on angled sides. To cut identical angles, first attach the side pieces together temporarily with double-sided tape. Then clamp a straightedge to the sides at the desired angle and make the cut with a circular or saber saw. Secure each side to the base with weather-resistant screws.

Add the Corner Braces
Step 4

Add the Corner Braces

To create a sturdy, weather-tight structure for your pet, corner braces are installed to keep the house from racking and also prevent drafts. Each brace consists of two strips of plywood screwed together. These are then attached to the sides and then to the back and front panels with weather-resistant screws.

Install the Partition Wall
Step 5

Install the Partition Wall

The partition wall is an important part of your pet's new home. Not only does it keep out weather and provide privacy, it also creates a space small enough for the pup's body heat to keep them warm. Secure the partition to the base and install a plywood panel angled to match the sides.

Insulate the Walls
Step 6

Insulate the Walls

To help keep your pet warm in the winter and cool in the summer, install rigid foam insulation in the wall cavities. Use either 1-1/2"-thick foam or glue up layers of 1" and 1/2" foam. Cut these to fit and then cover them with 1/4"-plywood. (If you don't, your pup may discover the foam is fun to nibble on.)

Cut the Door Opening
Step 7

Cut the Door Opening

Before you attach the front, have your pup stand in front of it and make a mark a couple of inches above his back. Make the width the pup's width plus 3". Center the opening and cut it out with a saber saw. Secure the front to the corner braces and then sand the opening smooth.

Add the Roof
Step 8

Add the Roof

The roof is cut slightly oversize to aid in rain runoff. It's secured at the back edge with a weather-resistant piano hinge to make cleaning a snap. Cover the roof with tar paper and install a metal drip edge around the perimeter.

Install the Shingles
Step 9

Install the Shingles

We used asphalt shingles to make the roof waterproof. Just make sure to use nails that are short enough so they won't poke through the roof and endanger your pet. Start at the bottom overlapping each row and work your way to the top. Apply a bead of roofing cement to the top edge to seal out moisture.