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How to build a dog kennel and not end up in the doghouse – The Associated Press

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Humans and dogs have been best friends for about 15,000 years. Yep, for 150 centuries, dogs have had us wrapped around their little paws, getting us to do everything for them — feeding them, playing with them, taking them on walks and keeping them entertained. Imagine the excitement in the dog world when the tennis ball was invented.
Some dogs have their humans trained to such an extent that they share a bed with them, but many dog owners, sensibly enough, draw the line there. “I don’t mind spending enormous amounts of time and money on you, but I don’t want your butt on my pillow” seems pretty reasonable. So where does your dog go at night? In its dreams, of course, it’s chasing rabbits across meadows and going hog-wild in various butcher shops, but in the real world, it needs somewhere to be, like a kennel.
If you’re good with dogs and good with your hands, our guide to how to build a kennel is for you.
“The best place for a dog to sleep is somewhere comfortable, protected from the elements and neither too cold nor too hot,” says Dr. Paola Cuevas, veterinary consultant at Dogster. “Canines love to sleep in protected and darker spaces. Their pups are born inside the safety of a den, but even as adults, they commonly look for a tree, rock or structure to provide at least partial shelter.”
Cuevas points out that, as well as your preferences and living situation, when deciding whether your dog should sleep indoors or outdoors, you need to consider both wildlife and weather. “Obviously, if it’s too cold or there are bears, they need to be inside. However, if you live in an area with nice temperate weather, building a sheltered area in the yard is OK as long as the dog is sheltered from strong winds and rain.”
The size of your dog is the number one criteria to consider when making any decision about where they’ll sleep. “With kennels and crates intended for travel, your dog must be able to stand up, turn around and lay comfortably in there,” says Cuevas. “It should be at least three inches higher than the standing dog, which must also be able to lie down without having to curve — the total length of the dog plus half of the length of its elbow should allow enough space.”
For a kennel that your dog will be sleeping in every day, you can go a lot bigger, although the chances of peeing and pooping in there will increase. The Animal Welfare Act has strict guidelines on keeping a dog in a fenced-in area, aka a dog playpen: The minimum area that can be allotted to each dog is its distance nose-to-tail in inches, plus six.
Before you get to building anything, there are a few points to ponder. Firstly, remember that if any of this seems too ambitious or difficult, you can simply buy kennels. A commercially available product might be the solution you’re looking for — plus, if your dog hates it, it’s much more easily returned than a completed but unwanted DIY project.
The welfare of your pet is key. If you’re concerned that you won’t be able to produce a kennel free from splinters, sticking-out nails or other hazards, or that the kennel you make will be unsafe for your dog in other ways, buy one instead.
Outdoor kennels generally have more features to consider than indoor kennels. For example, an outdoor kennel must have a pitched roof for rain runoff, sealant that protects it from the elements and a means of affixing it to the ground, depending on your dog and the surrounding environment.
Wooden pallets are a popular and inexpensive building option. These can be cheaply sourced anywhere, disassembled and the planks repurposed as raw materials. However, the wood can be very rough, so careful sanding to protect you during construction and your dog when it uses the kennel is essential. It may be necessary to remove any lingering nails or cut them down with an angle grinder.
If sanded and treated, a fairly straightforward box should do it, as long as you ensure it has a pitched roof. In areas with a lot of rain and the risk of flooding, plan to build a raised base. In colder areas, keeping the entrance hole as small as possible will help retain heat and keep your dog cozy and comfortable.
All of that said, you can get as ambitious as you like: additional rooms, extra entrances, internal furniture, foam insulation, roof tiles — whatever you want to build for your furry friend.
Indoor kennels, often referred to as dog crates, require less, structurally speaking, than outdoor ones. They are often slightly more cage-like to allow light through and let you keep an eye on your pet, as the cold and wind are less of a concern.
“Dogs can decide to go in there when they need some decompression time or some peaceful sleep,” says Cuevas. “Kids can also easily understand not to disturb the dogs when they are in their own space, and for dogs with a tendency to pick up or ingest foreign objects, an indoor enclosure can help to ensure they’re safe if their owners cannot keep an eye on them for a little while.”
Many of the instructions available online are based on building a simple wooden box with aluminum bars and a door. As well as ensuring the kennel is large enough for your dog, be careful spacing the bars. You want them to be close enough together that there is no chance of your dog getting its head stuck between them, as this can be extremely dangerous.
There is also the option of modifying a predesigned piece of furniture — for instance, purchasing a self-assembly cabinet and replacing the solid door with a barred or meshed version.
As with any DIY project, the cost of building a dog kennel can vary wildly depending on materials, how ambitious the project is, what tools you have ready access to and how skilled you are at the construction process. Costs can be extremely low, however. Wooden pallets are often given away for free, so if that’s your material of choice, the whole project can come in for the cost of screws, sandpaper and sealant. Alternatively, if you’re going for super-premium materials, there’s no ceiling to what you can end up spending. Better hope your dog likes it!
Kennels both indoors and outdoors require regular cleaning, with any waste being removed, water replaced and general tidying performed. Regularly checking for leaks, damp, mold and pooling water ensures conditions don’t deteriorate quickly.
With any homemade kennel, but particularly an outdoors one that’s exposed to the elements, regular checking for damage or splintering is essential. Wood stain and sealant needs to be reapplied — depending on the individual products used — every two to five years, but a kennel in constant use could easily need maintenance more frequently.
Choosing to build a kennel rather than buy one can be a fun and rewarding project, leading to a custom concept tailored to your pet and your home. It can also be done fairly cheaply, depending on your choice of materials.
If you have access to the right materials, building your own kennel can be extremely cheap. Wooden pallets are frequently given away for free, in which case you only need to pay for fixtures and fittings and apply the elbow grease. Commercial kennels start at a few hundred dollars.
However, as with any DIY project, not only can you spend as much as you like, there are also endless ways it can end up costing you a lot more than expected. Injuring yourself and damaging your house are a lot more likely when attempting a DIY project compared to installing an off-the-shelf product.
The simplest way to make a DIY kennel for indoor use is to purchase a self-assembly cabinet and replace the door. You might be able to simply remove a panel and fit bars or wire mesh in its place.
In addition to wood, you’ll need screws, nails, wood stain, sealant, sandpaper or a sander and, depending on what you have in mind for the roof, anything from roofing felt to shingles. You’ll also need access to saws, drills, screwdrivers and a hammer. But be as ambitious as you wish!
“Kennels, crates and enclosures are a great idea and a useful tool to keep dogs safe, teach them that it’s OK to spend some time on their own and provide them with the opportunity to have some peace and enjoy their personal space,” says Cuevas. “However, please keep in mind that dogs are social creatures that love to spend time socializing with their humans, so please do not condemn them to be locked up and lonely. I would recommend keeping the doors open most of the time and locking them up only when necessary or for controlled periods.”
The first thing to make: decisions. Is this for indoors or outdoors? How big does it need to be? Beyond how big it needs to be, how big do you (and your dog) want it to be? How grand a plan are you going for?
Then source your materials and tools and — taking every necessary safety precaution — off you go. But remember: Every surface your pet will come into contact with needs to be safe, secure and free from splinters and nails. Your dog’s welfare is paramount, so if you can’t build them a safe and cozy kennel, buy one instead. There are plenty of options out there and the hairiest member of your family deserves as much comfort as the others.
Read more: Best dog beds of every kind
AP Buyline’s content is created independently of The Associated Press newsroom. Our evaluations and opinions are not influenced by our advertising relationships, but we might earn commissions from our partners’ links in this content. Learn more about our policies and terms here.


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