The site was last updated on
24 Aug 2000
When you're ready to find the house your pet can call home, take into consideration not only the size, but the design, construction, building materials, placement, and bedding.How Your Dog Stays Comfortable
What to Look For in a Dog House
Size Does Matter
The Design of the House
The Construction of the House
Conditioning Your Dog to its New Home
In order to get a house that will be comfortable for your dog, you first need to understand how your dog stays warm, cool, and dry.
Dogs are made to cope with the elements. Your dog's coat provides her with her own build-in-insulation. Shorthaired dogs can stay as warm as longhaired dogs. This is because each hair on a shorthaired dog is coarse and hollow. Within each hair is a pocket of air, and the hairs lie close, giving it a tight weave.
Longhaired dogs, on the other hand, have thinner, finer hair, but they often have an undercoat and an outercoat. The undercoat hairs are kinky and interweave, trapping air between the hairs and creating a thick insulative layer.
The purpose of a dog house is to shelter your dog from the sun, wind, rain and cold. Although in extremely cold climates such as in Canada or Minnesota, we recommend that pets be brought indoors to prevent hypothermia. Another important purpose for a dog house is to make your dog feel safe and secure. When purchasing a home for your pet, take into consideration the following:
The house should be big enough to allow your dog easy entrance and the ability to turn around inside the house and lie down flat (she will not have to stand up straight to do so). When your dog is cold, she will curl up to help hold in her body heat. Her body heat will also warm the air around her body. A house that is too large will have too much cold air around it, and your dog's body heat surrounding her will be lost.
By the way, all dogs, when cold, will shiver -- their natural way of increasing body heat, which is why dog houses aren't equipped with heaters!
There are several styles of houses to choose from, including barn-shaped styles and rounded styles shaped like igloos. These are more a matter of your personal preferences than your dog's.
Choose a house that has a vent at, or near, the top of the house. This allows an exchange of air, which will reduce humidity and circulate fresh air.
Prefabricated, high impact plastic houses can be quite high-tech these days. They are generally made from a material such as polypropylene, a high impact, insulate plastic. When this material is manufactured, small bubbles of air are created in the sheet of plastic as it is formed. This is an excellent technique for insulating the home from both the heat and the cold. These houses are easy to install, waterproof, and can be cleaned and disinfected easily.
Your dog's house should have some sort of bedding. Not only does bedding make the floor of the house softer to lie on, but it also insulates the dog from the underside and protects the dog's joints from a hard surface. Choose bedding that is washable or that has a washable covering.
PETsMART.com carries crate pads that fit nicely into most dog houses. These are made of a firm polyfoam and covered with a longlasting, washable nylon fabric. Pillows are also popular and come in many sizes, shapes, and colors. Some are filled with cedar chips, a natural flea repellent which will help prevent infestation of your dog. Many of these beds have a zippered inner liner so that you can add fresh cedar, or you can remove the polyfil so that your pet gets just the right firmness. Outer liners are easy to remove for laundering. Mats are less bulky and usually fit nicely inside a dog house.
Particularly during hot weather climates, place the house in the shade. Houses that are exposed to direct sunlight can well exceed temperatures over 100 degrees inside, and as much as 130 degrees or more in the hotter regions of the country. In the colder months, position the house so that the door is facing away from the direction of prevailing winter winds.
If you live in a region of the country that has excessively cold or hot climates, please bring your dog into a more protected area of your home, such as a garage, basement, or mud room during extreme heat or cold.
Getting a pet used to his new shelter can be an experience in and of itself. If your pet is not crate trained, and not used to the "den? environment, then do not try to force him into the home. You want the experience to be a positive one, so you?ll need to entice your dog inside the home gradually, and give him encouragement and praise. You may have to work on this over a period of a couple of days.
To coax your dog inside, try one of these ideas to help the pet to feel more comfortable in his new house: