This winter has been surprisingly cold and has conferred an unusual amount of snow. I guess it shouldn't be surprising, after all, I do live in North Idaho, but the fall was so warm and lasted through November. Also, where we live in Idaho, often it snows a bit during the night but warms up enough to melt by midmorning (unlike 2 hours north of us where winter is colder and longer). We have had multiple winters when we never had to shovel! Last year was different, the kids had a total of about 14 snow days and had to make up many of them during the spring, but who expects two unusually bad winters in a row? Well, December came, the temperature dropped drastically, the snow just kept falling and the dog moved into the house.
Our dog is old enough and well enough behaved now that having him inside is fine, but about 10 years ago that was not the case. We were living in a colder climate and renting a house where indoor pets were not allowed. We had a young German Shepherd that was facing his first winter and we needed an insulated dog house to keep him comfortable and cozy.
My husband is a DIY kind of guy, so he did a little research online, drew up some plans and made his own insulated dog house. Now, I am not going to give you plans here to build your own insulated dog house, there are plenty of those online, but I am going to give you some key features to look for when searching for insulated dog houses building plans. You may want to purchase one instead, and there are many good quality insulated dog houses already on the market, but the following still applies.
What to look for:
- First, the proper size is very important. You want it large enough for your dog to be comfortable, but small enough so that the dogs body heat is trapped in the space to keep him warm. Here is a basic rule of thumb: take your dogs height (ground to top of shoulder) in inches and allow 36 square inches of floor space per inch. So if you have a 24" tall dog, then you will need 864 square inches of floor space, or a floor area of 24" x 36". For height of the dog house, measure the height of your dog when he is sitting, and add 1 or 2 inches for the height of the ceiling. A peaked roof is not good, this produces too much air space to keep warm. If you already have a dog house with a peaked roof, see if you can install an insulated ceiling.
- The house should be elevated off the ground, if the insulated dog houses you look at do not offer this feature, you can elevate it using bricks. This helps to keep the floor warmer and dry.
- A front "hall" with a wall divider that the dog can walk around into an inner room is best. Sometimes wind will blow from unusual directions and blow right into insulated dog houses, the front hall and divider will keep the sleeping area out of the wind. In many models and plans the divider can be removed for a bigger dog house in the summer when your dog needs to keep cool.
- A hinge roof is very convenient. It allows easy access for cleaning the sleeping area and replacing bedding, and allows removal of any walls as mentioned above.
- Insulated dog houses should have inner and outer walls with some form of insulation in between.
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