If you’re planning on building your own dog house, it’s really important to look for insulated dog house plans.
That’s because your dog is going to need some protection from the elements in both cold and hot weather. If the dog house is well insulated, it’ll keep him warm in winter. Just as importantly, it’ll help keep him cool in summer.
If your plans have good insulation, and the house is a good size for your dog, that’s probably all you’re going to need to keep him at a comfortable temperature, unless you live somewhere really freezing, in which case you’ll need to give him access to some protected area of your house in any case (such as the garage or basement).
So, how does it work? Insulation works on the same principle as your dog’s coat – trapped air. Heat and cold travel more slowly through air than through solids, so little pockets of air create insulation.
Good natural wood is itself insulating, because it’s less dense than metal or most plastics. However, it’s a good idea to build extra insulation into your dog house. Good dog house plans will include instructions for that.
Basically, you’ll be building your walls in two pieces: usually a thicker outer wall, made from solid natural wood, and a thinner inner wall, perhaps plywood or hardboard (but never pressure-treated wood, as this is toxic). You join them to the floor and roof in such a way that there’s a small gap between them. The air between them is trapped, and this creates insulation.
That may well be enough insulation for your climate, but if you want more, you can put a layer of insulating material between the two pieces of wall. This could be foam board, foam spray, or some kind of improvised material like old carpeting or rags. Do make sure the cavity is well sealed, or you’ll end up with soggy insulation!
The simplest way to create your double layer of wall is usually to start by making a strong frame for the dog house, from 2″x2″ or similar, and then attach one layer to the outside of the frame, and the other to the inside.
When you’re looking for dog house plans, check that they state clearly that they allow for insulation. But there’s one more kind of insulation which is important, and which you might not think to look for – and that’s the floor.
I’m not talking about putting insulating material in the floor (though of course you can if you want), but rather about raising the dog house up off the ground. Good plans should include this feature. The air underneath the floor acts as insulation, and stops the cold seeping into the house from the earth. It also helps prevent rot, and stops water pouring in through the door when it’s wet.
You can raise a dog house off the floor with some bricks at the corners – but really good plans will have the raise built in, as part of the frame.