A doghouse may appear to be a toy building by human standards, but for the dog, it is its home. We live in our homes to get shelter from the elements and a reasonable amount of comfort. Our dogs too deserve the comfort and protection a house can offer, even though wild dogs are not in the habit of living in homes. But then, our pets have been domesticated for thousands of generations that they no longer have the survival skills their wild counterparts naturally develop. It is up to us to provide basic comforts in a doghouse.
Outdoor doghouses have to be weatherproofed to face the seasonal changes that occur. It may not be a big issue in areas with milder climate round the year, but some areas experience extremes in weather. That poses problems for small structures such as a doghouse. Depending on the season, doghouses need to be equipped to protect the dog from severe cold, heat and different forms of precipitation.
Protection from sun
Direct sunlight falling on the doghouse can not only heat up the external surfaces of the structure, but also raise the temperature inside. The roof of the doghouse is typically kept low with just enough headroom for the dog to stand comfortably. This feature is part of correct cold-temperature construction, and is necessary to keep the house comfortably warm with just the heat generated by the dog itself. Combined with a low level opening, this prevents the warm air inside from escaping.
The same feature can turn the doghouse into a hot oven if it is allowed to heat up too much. Solar radiation can make this happen even in winter!
This is why a shady location is ideal for a doghouse. If safe and dependable tree shade is not available in your yard, the doghouse can be placed in such a way that the shadow of the main house or a high wall falls on it in the afternoon.
If the doghouse happens to be in the path of the sun, roofs with good amount of overhang, or sunshades over the door and windows, can offer some protection from sunlight. The door should have a flap, and the windows should be ideally fitted with movable screens. In areas where the climate is sunny and warm for most part of the year, pitched, high roofs are preferable. Extra ventilation also prevents hot air from getting trapped inside. If the doghouse has a shaded porch, the dog can rest there if its house becomes unbearably hot and stuffy.
Protection against cold
Following correct cold-temperature construction goes a long way in providing comfortable housing for the dog. The size of the doghouse should be just right for your dog’s size. Too large a house is difficult to keep warm without additional heating. The floor of the doghouse should be raised by at least 4-6 inches to prevent heat escaping through the floor. Insulating the walls and the roof conserves heat. Wooden doghouses offer good insulation. Double-walled plastic panels usually have insulating foam between the walls. The doors and windows should be protected by thick flaps too.
Protection from wind
The effect of cold weather is amplified by wind. If your area is windy during winter, the door of the doghouse should be turned away from the direction of the wind. In the Northern hemisphere, doghouses in the north and east sides of the house may have more exposure. Avoid these locations, if possible.
If you find the doghouse to be in the path of cold drafts, its doors and windows should be well-protected. The door is usually offset to one side so that the main sleeping area is not troubled by drafts. It helps to have an internal wall in the doghouse to break the direct entry of cold air too.
Protection from wetness
The dog’s fur coat may protect it from cold and the effects of wind to some extent, but wetness can cause real harm. For one thing, it compounds the effect of cold. For another, it keeps the dog in a very uncomfortable condition for a long period as the wet fur prevents the skin from drying off quickly. Cold and dampness can increase risk of dogs developing respiratory problems and skin infections. It encourages mold growth on the walls and furnishings too, which can be unhealthy for the dog.
If your area receives frequent precipitation in the form of either rain or snow, the doghouse should be designed to minimize the chances of dampness inside. Rainwater and snowmelt should drain off quickly from the roof to prevent seepage. Pitched or slanting roofs are ideal.
There shouldn’t be any water logging around the doghouse too. Constructing the structure on sloping ground helps quick drainage of water. Gravel is preferable to grass in the area around doghouse. It would be good to have a covered porch instead of having direct entry into the doghouse. It may also prevent too much wetness entering the doghouse. If the dog is wet or is covered by snow, it may want to thoroughly shake itself dry before going in.
In addition to weatherproofing, doghouses in areas experiencing severe winters may require some type of heating. Nowadays, even air-conditioning is available for doghouses. Nevertheless, and well-constructed and well-insulated structure helps maintain ambient living conditions during major part of the year without additional heating. It also increases the effect of additional heating, consequently reducing the cost.