How to Build a Dog House (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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If you have the right tools and materials, a dog houses are one of the simplest designs to construct. But, even though a doghouse is supposed to protect your pet from the elements outside, a poorly constructed one might endanger them.

That’s why I’m going to walk you through the steps on how to build a dog house, so your furry friend has a cozy and safe space to call their own.

Tools and Materials

Constructing the Dog House

Step #1: Prepare and Purchase the Materials

If you already have a basic idea of the design, you can easily estimate how much wood, ply sheets, screws, and shingles you’ll need to complete the DIY dog house.

I can’t stress enough how useful a lumber calculator can be. Trust me, it takes the guesswork out of figuring out how much wood you’ll need.

buying plywood

Depending on the dimensions of the dog house, you will need different quantities of 2x4s, plywood, shingles, and screws.

Also Read: How Many 2×4 Lumbers You Need  

To know how much of each material you’ll need, you can check these step-by-step instructions first and estimate with your dog’s build.

If you’re on the fence about how much you’ll need, especially for a small to medium-sized dog, I recommend having some extra supplies at the ready. You don’t want to halt construction halfway through because you ran short—that’s a real mood killer.

Step #2: Start With the Base

Start by building the house’s foundation first. You should have four boards attached in a square or rectangle, and a flat piece of plywood or another suitable material placed on top.

Remember that you’ll need to raise the floor base above ground level. I usually go for a two-board approach and sandwich some insulation in between. Creates a nice air gap between the ground and the base, which can be a real comfort booster for your dog.

(Read this beginner’s guide to insulation boards to know proper placement, installation, and more!)

drilling on wood

Now, when it comes to fastening the boards, I drill a couple of pilot holes at opposite ends and drive in some wood screws. And let’s not forget L brackets—they’re pretty darn reliable.

You can use either nails or screws to secure the floor. If you want your dog to feel more comfortable, you can add a carpet, bed, or straw on it.

Step #3: Cut the Framing for the Left and Right Walls

The 2-by-2s should be trimmed to your frame length or dimensions and secured using 2-1/2-inch deck screws. Repeat and make a frame for the right and left walls.

Step #4: Cut the Framing for the Back and Front Walls

For the front and back panels, prepare the 2-by-2s for the rear wall dimensions and then fasten them in place using deck screws that are 2 1/2 inches in length.

Size the 2 x 2 lumber and use deck screws that are 2 1/2 inches in length to secure it. You should consider the door size concerning your dog’s size.

Plywood

Your dog’s shoulder blades should protrude no more than two to four inches into the house’s entrance or front wall. Want a quick tip on door height? Measure your dog from the shoulder down to the base and multiply that by 0.75. Works like a charm.

Step #5: Install the Walls

Use deck screws that are 2 1/2 inches in length to attach the plywood panel.

I’ve got to tell you, those extra inches of overhang on the base can make all the difference. It gives you a nice buffer on the sides and back. Just secure the walls to the base so that you have that extra inch of overhang on each side and the back.

Step #6: Install Insulated Flooring

Next is to install a floor panel in the dog house. Get a sheet of plywood that will fit over the frame and cut it to size.

To insulate the dog house and protect your puppy from the cold ground, you need to trim the foam insulation board to size and glue it to the plywood panels using outdoor weatherproof adhesive. 

sawing flooring for dog house

Fasten it to the base joists with the insulated material side down and a 1-1/2-inch screw.

Step #7: Cut and Install the Framing for the Roof

You should trim 2-by-2s to the specified length for the entire roof and fasten using 2-1/2-inch deck screws.

The front overhang should be 12 inches, and the sides and the back should be flush with the structure. Use 2-and-a-half-inch screws to secure.

Step #8: Attach the Siding

As for the siding, you can use whatever you like. You’ve got a bunch of options for material, but I usually stick with at least a half-inch sheet. Get accurate measurements by measuring the frame.

attaching walls

Don’t forget to get siding for the underside of the roof trusses. Use 1-1/4-inch deck screws to secure the components.

Step #9: Install the Roof

Measure and cut the ply sheets to make the roof of the doghouse. To avoid the roof panels overhanging the sides of the doghouse, the sheet used for the roof should be larger than the panel used for the floor.

To construct a doghouse with a gable or sloped roof, carefully measure and trim two square or rectangular wood panels to fit the roof’s slope.

If you want an overhang, the sheets must be big enough to go over the building’s edges. Put in 1-and-a-half-inch screws to attach the panels to the rafters.

Step #10: Install the Door

Attach the door opening to the dog house by cutting the piano hinge and attaching it. Install the piano hinge using the screws that came with it.

installing door on dog house

For some added flair, I like to install eye bolts. In a hole measuring 5/16 inches, insert a 1/4-inch threaded eye bolt and nut it into place. The door’s bottom should have a second eye bolt secured using threaded 1/4-inch bolts.

Place a 16-inch length of chain between the two eye bolts, linking them with 1/8-inch quick links and then a metal snap hook.

Adding weatherstripping and a bolt lock to keep the door securely closed is a good idea for enhanced safety.

Step #11: Add Roof Shingles

You can add shingles on the roof, but this is optional, but if you want the house to last as long as possible, they are a great addition to the plywood roof.

attaching roof

After laying down some roofing felt to weatherproof the plywood, I go ahead and attach asphalt shingles using roofing spikes.

Pay attention to the details here. You’ll want those shingles laid out just right to prevent any rainwater from sneaking in through cracks. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen shoddy shingle work lead to a waterlogged doghouse, and that’s no fun for anyone.

Step #12: Paint and Customize the Exterior

Building a dog house can spark your creativity, so create a unique look by simply attaching sun decks and other extras or by painting them. Paint the outside to look like your house, or choose a fun design using only non-toxic pigments that won’t harm your dog [1]. 

Got kids? Let them turn the doghouse into their own little art project. It’s a win-win: they have a blast, and you end up with a colorful masterpiece.

priming wood before painting

Priming and painting a doghouse are optional, just like shingles, but doing so makes the structure look better, protects the wood from the elements, and can considerably increase its lifespan.

One last pro tip: for an added layer of coziness, consider attaching some weather-resistant adhesives to the interior panels and roof for extra insulation.

Safety Precautions

Of course, selecting sturdy materials and precise proportions while building the DIY doghouse is important to ensure it won’t topple over in storms or become waterlogged from excessive snowfall or rain.

Also, construct the dog house with sturdy and non-toxic materials, ensuring proper ventilation to regulate temperature. Remember that you shouldn’t let your dog outside in harsh weather.

grey dog house

Put the doghouse where it is covered and protected from the elements (the sun, the wind, snow, and the rain). These basic principles will keep your dog dry and comfortable throughout the summer’s heat and out of harm’s way during thunderstorms and gusty winds. 

Furthermore, insulations can lessen the heat lost or gained via the roof, wall, and floor, making the dog’s room or house more comfortable year-round.

When you’re finished with the project, examine the doghouse’s interior to ensure no screws or nails are sticking out. Once you’ve double-checked, it’s time to hand over the keys to the new resident.

Conclusion

If you want to know how to build a dog house properly, these instructions should help you create a sturdy shelter for your cute pooch to use or rest while spending time outside. 

You can build it in just a few hours, but don’t rush. Always remember that it should keep them warm and protect them from external elements.

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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