Outdoor dogs depend on their owners to protect them from the cold, winds and snow of winter. The dog's own body heat is what warms a doghouse, so the size of the doghouse and its ability to retain warmth are important. An insulated doghouse should be no more than three times the size of the dog. This allows the dog’s body to warm the doghouse, and still gives him enough space to stand up and turn around. Doghouses can last several years, but exposure to rain and sunlight can make the walls thinner over time. You can winterize a doghouse with some common materials that are very inexpensive.
Examine your doghouse carefully for any cracks and crevices in the walls, floors and especially the roof. Ask a helper to look inside the doghouse while you shine a flashlight on the exterior. If there are cracks or holes, the light will shine inside the doghouse. Apply waterproof silicone caulk to seal all potential heat leaks.
Place a measuring tape horizontally across the door opening of your doghouse. Make a note of this measurement as the width. Stretch the measuring tape from the top to the bottom of the door opening, and note this measurement as the height. Mark the measurements onto a solid rubber bathtub mat. Cut along the marking lines with a utility knife. Nail the rubber mat to the outside of the doghouse doorway with one nail on each side and a nail every 4 inches between them. This will cover the door to keep your dog warm inside and keep the cold wind out of the doghouse. Dogs that use doggie doors adapt easily to this kind of door covering.
Fill the floor of your doghouse with about 6 inches of either straw or cedar chips for bedding. These materials insulate the floor of the dog house and reflect body heat when your dog lies in them to help keep him warm. If you put plenty of straw in the doghouse, your dog will make a cozy nest in it.
Place a wooden pallet on a level area that is under shelter. You can place it under a porch or in a garage if these areas are available. The pallet size you need depends on the size of your doghouse. Choose a pallet that is the same size as or larger than your doghouse, so that the doghouse will sit on the pallet and be level. You can turn the doghouse door toward your house or another building, and place it about one and one half times the length of your dog from the wall. This allows him ample room to enter and exit his house with the added protection of a wind block.
If it is extremely cold and your dog is shivering, bring him indoors. This is a sign that he is too cold and it could be the start of hypothermia. This condition occurs when an animal’s body temperature is too low and he is not able to warm up on his own. A hypothermic pet needs immediate attention from a veterinarian.
Some dogs may not want to push a door flap open to enter and exit a doghouse. If your dog does not like the idea, you may need to train him to use it. Hold the door flap open, and gently coax your dog into the house, then call him back out. Give him a treat and pet him for good behavior. Continue this training, partially lowering the flap, and finally with the flap all the way down.
After your dog plays in rain or snow, wipe him off with a towel before he enters his doghouse. This will help keep the bedding dry. Check the bedding every few days to make sure it is dry and thick. The straw or cedar chips will compress over time, or your dog will kick some of it out, and you may need to change the bedding or add more.
If your doghouse has vents on top, close them in the winter to hold the dog's body heat inside the house.
Many businesses give away pallets. Check with a local grocery store or home-improvement center to see if they have wooden pallets available.
Items You Will Need
- Waterproof silicone caulk
- Measuring tape
- Bathtub mat
- Utility knife
- Hay or cedar bedding
- Wooden pallet