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Build a House for Your Dog


Dear James: My dog loves to be outdoors and sometimes refuses to come indoors. The kids are always worried about him, and they want him to have some protection from the weather. Is it fairly easy to build a doghouse? Can you give me some advice? — Ron B.

Dear Ron: Building a doghouse can be a fun indoor family project. Actually, if your kids are like most, you'll have a better chance getting your dog to help while your kids play computer games. Building one will not be much different than a real house, just on a smaller scale.

If you plan to build it in the comfort of your basement or workroom, keep in mind that eventually you will have to move it outdoors. Measure the size of your doors before completely assembling it. It is usually a good idea to do the final assembly in your garage.

A shingled roof is most durable and weatherproof, just like on your house, but if you think your dog will sit on top of the house don't use shingles. They can get very hot in the summertime. Use an exterior plywood panel instead. If your dog is a chewer, avoid pressure-treated lumber, even for the feet.

You should be able to get by with one 4x8 ft. sheet of exterior siding for an average-size dog (under 50 lbs.). Draw templates of all the pieces on the back of the siding first to make the best use of the material.

Now carefully saw on the lines. For this normal-size doghouse, plan on two 22- x 32-inch roof pieces (for a pitched roof), two 16 x 26-inch side pieces, two 21 x 26-inch bottom pieces (double bottom for strength) and a front and back piece that is 16 x 22 inches with a 27-inch peak in the center. Cut the hole for the door just large enough for your dog to enter.

The next step is to cut the lumber to build the base on which the doghouse is built. This raises the floor above the ground to prevent water from entering on rainy days. It also keeps the house elevated from the cold ground in the winter months. Cut four 6-inch long legs, two 23-inch long and two 21-inch base pieces.

Double-check that the base is square, and nail its four sides together. Nail the legs against the inside edges of the side bases. Place the first floor piece on the base frame. Make sure that it does not overhang any edges of the base. If the floor pieces weren't cut straight, trim off the excess with a plane, and nail both floor pieces in place.

Now, before it is too late, head out into the garage with all your pieces. Use standard 2 x 2 lumber for roof and wall supports. Nail these to the inside edges of the top and sides. Recess them up 3 1/2 inches on the sides, front and back. This allows the sides to extend down and cover the base for a professional look.

Put one of the sides in place, and nail it to the base. Then put the other side on and nail it, too. Line the back piece up with the sides and nail it to the base and to the 2 x 2 supports. Do the same with the front piece.

Nail the first roof section into place. Before nailing on the last roof piece, check for any exposed nails and cut or file any edges that could hurt the dog. Nail the final roof piece on. Attach the shingles and paint the exterior if desired.

Tools and materials required: tape measure, hammer, square, circular saw, file, plane, paintbrush, exterior siding, shingles (optional), lumber, nails, paint.

Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



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James Dulley
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