yellow and red dog house with boxer inside

DIY: How to build a dog house

From Snoopy’s modest red dog house to Paris Hilton’s doggy mansion – fabulous dogs need a fabulous dog house! Pamper your pet like a celebrity, with his or her own special outdoor space. Made with love, you can make a dog house to suit any yard. I live in a condo, but if I had a backyard, you bet I would be building a dog house! Check out these tips and tricks for how to build a dog house that will make your dog enjoy your yard even more.

Choose your design

When designing your doggy kingdom, first consider your climate. You will want the dog house to keep out rain, wind, and snow. If it gets hot where you live, consider building your dog house in the shade. If there are certain materials that would be unsuitable for your climate, avoid them. Don’t add a roof that will get too hot, and consider a flat roof if you think your dog may enjoy standing or sitting on top of it. Make sure the end result will be well ventilated before getting to work.

golden dog in wooden dog house with hay and bowls outside

You can build a dog house that matches your house, or you can take a creative approach. A matching dog house can be adorable! Many homeowners design their backyard to compliment the home. If you have spent a lot of time doing up your gardens, this might appeal to you. A matching dog house will not disrupt the flow by bringing in new colours or styles.

If your dog has a stylish personality, this can be a fun way to reflect that. For example, my black lab mix looks great in red. I love to buy red collars and leashes for him. He is an outdoorsy guy, and doesn’t wear any jackets or sweaters that are too cutesy. I like a few edgy accessories on him! He has a rhinestone skull collar tag to add a touch of bling. His black and red plaid leash and collar set always gets compliments. Especially with his grey sweater with a red deer head silhouette on it. A cute Disney-inspired castle wouldn’t be right for him, but that style would be perfect for my friends fluffy little shih tzu Maui.

Here is a more traditional style dog house plan from Lowes you can customize. Check out some more detailed free DIY dog house plans here.

If you have the skills to create a custom plan, this is your time to shine! Get have fun with it. For some over the top inspiration, here are some celebrity dog houses:

Maintaining your dog house

When you build your new dog house, consider maintenance. You will have to check your dog house often for signs of damage. This is important if you have severe weather in your area. Shingles may need to be replaced over time. Pests and wildlife will need to be kept out. Make sure you select a design that is sturdy and won’t need to be replaced too soon.

Buy your materials

If you are handy, you may be able to determine all the materials and tools yourself. If not, follow one of the free dog house plans available online. Buy or borrow any safety equipment and tools you may need. Personally, I don’t have a lot of experience with tools for building. I imagine building something is like a recipe though. Easier if you have all your ingredients and equipment lined up before you begin.

Don’t hesitate to ask family or friends for help if this is your first time building an outdoor structure. I picked up a (borrowed) hammer for the first time about three years ago to hang one picture with one nail. This caused a neighbour to inquire, “When will the hammering end?!”. So this is definitely a step I will need help with building my future dog house.

Make it cozy

Once your dog house is set up, add some blankets for your dog to cozy up in. You put in all the hard work, and you want to make sure they love it! Add a cooling mat if you live in a hot climate or during the summer time if you live farther from the equator. Your dog will love having a cool backyard retreat all to themself. A fluffy bed may also encourage your dog to relax in there. Make sure anything you add is for outdoor use to prevent mold and mildew. If you plan to bring your dog’s indoor bedding out when you are in the backyard, it may get dirty or forgotten.

Making your dog house cozy is another chance to get creative. I will decorate my future dog house with tiny fairy lights and a flower box in spring. It has holiday decorations for the winter, and a cute round pumpkin outside in the fall. A welcome mat and a name plate would also be a nice touch.

dog in wooden dog house, peaking out of the door

Encourage your dog to use their new dog house

If your dog is crate trained, they might go right in! Other dogs may be hesitant, and even a little confused. Throw in some treats to encourage them to check it out, and be sure to give lots of praise. Don’t leave your dog unattended. You don’t want to give them the impression that this will be their new forever house. If your dog is okay being in the backyard alone, this may be fine over time. 


A dog house can be a fun addition to your yard! It will give your dog his or her own very special place made with love. You can select a design that keeps it simple, or go wild and creative with it. Remember, this will need maintenance. Make a plan, and buy everything you need in advance. Keep it clean and cozy for your pooch to relax in. Once the new dog house is set up, Fido may be a little hesitant. With some encouragement, it may become his new favourite spot!

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