How to Build an Easy DIY Dog House Step-by-Step

Nick P. Cellucci
Written by Nick P. Cellucci
Updated April 27, 2022
A dog peeking out of his wooden house
Photo: Paws on the Run Photography / Moment / Getty Images
Difficulty

Simple

Saturday skill builder.

Time to complete

4 hours

A DIY dog house can be an easy woodworking project that your pet will love

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What you'll need:

TOOLS

  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Circular saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Mixing bowl (or other large, round object)
  • Power saw
  • Paintbrush

SUPPLIES

  • One or more 3/4-inch plywood panels (based on your blueprint)
  • 4 boards of 2-by-4 lumber cut to match the dimensions of your base panel
  • 4 boards of 2-by-2 lumber cut to match the height of your wall panels
  • 4 boards of 2-by-2 lumber cut to match the width of your roof panels
  • Graph paper
  • Galvanized wood screws
  • Sandpaper
  • Dog door (optional)
  • Insulation material (optional)
  • Asphalt roofing paper (optional)
  • Roofing shingles (optional)
  • Non-toxic exterior paint (optional)
  • Dog bed, blanket, or carpet remnant (optional)
  • Custom metal nameplate (optional)

Building a dog house can help you create a dog-friendly yard and also cut down on dog odors in your home by offering Fido a fantastic outdoors spot to call their own. Whatever your reason for building a dog house, this simple weekend project is the perfect way for DIY dog owners to save money and practice their woodworking skills. Follow these seven simple steps to build a dog house.

Prepping to Build Your Own DIY Dog House

Before you shop for supplies, keep in mind that you want to use non-toxic, water-resistant materials. High-quality lumber such as cedar, redwood, and treated plywood will be able to resist rotting and pests. Additionally, you want to avoid reusing old pressure-treated lumber, which may be treated with toxic chemicals that could harm you or your dog.

Other materials like glue and paint can make your dog sick if accidentally ingested. To keep your dog safe while you build, keep them away from the work area until the structure is completely finished. That includes allowing any adhesives and paints to dry thoroughly. Be sure to clean up all leftover building materials and locate any dropped screws that your dog could find.

7 Steps to Build a Simple Dog House

Have your supplies ready? Now it’s time to get to work.

  1. Measure Your Dog

    To be comfortable in your DIY dog house, your dog should be able to stand, turn around, and lay comfortably on their side. To get the size right, you’ll need to build to accommodate your dog’s length and height as a full-grown adult. If you’re building a house for a puppy, you should build the house according to the maximum size the breed typically grows to be.

    Use your measuring tape to take two measurements:

    • Length: Measure from the tip of your dog’s nose to the tip of their fully extended tail and add four inches.

    • Height: Measure from the top of your dog’s head to the ground, or from the tip of its ears to the ground if they have naturally erect ears, and add four inches.

    These adjusted measurements are the minimum dimensions you should use. You can opt for a larger dog house to give your dog more room, but keep in mind that dogs tend to prefer a snug interior with low-hanging ceilings that mimic the kind of shelter they might naturally seek out in the wild. A cozy space will also warm up more quickly when the weather is chilly.

  2. Lay Out Your Dog House Plan

    Once you have your dimensions, you’ll be able to draw up a blueprint on graph paper that includes seven or eight panels. You’ll need three identical rectangular panels for the base and sides that match your adjusted length and height measurements. The base will be wide enough so your dog can lay on their side. If you’re adding insulation, you’ll need a second base panel.

    You’ll also need identical front and back panels with a rectangular portion on the bottom that lines up with your side walls and a triangular portion at the top where your two roof panels will sit and come to a point. The triangular portion can be at any angle, though the steeper your roof, the more plywood you’ll need for your two roof panels.

    See if you can fit your design inside of a standard eight-by-four-foot three-quarter-inch plywood panel. If not, you may need to buy a second panel.

  3. Cut Your Wood

    A young man wearing protective glasses cutting plank of wood
    Photo: monkeybusinessimages / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

    With your blueprint laid out, cut your panels from standard three-quarter-inch plywood using a circular saw, or have the cuts made wherever you purchase your lumber. Do the same with the two-by-four and two-by-two lumber, which you’ll need to build a base and secure the frame of your dog house.

    You’ll also want to cut an entryway into the front panel large enough so your dog can walk in comfortably. Measure and draw a rectangular opening on the plywood, then trace the edge of a large mixing bowl or another round object to create an archway. Cut this archway entrance out of the panel using a jigsaw. You can also install a dog door as an optional touch.

  4. Build a Base

    Your base will be a raised floor, either with a space of air under a single base panel or insulation material placed between two panels. This will prevent flooding from beneath and help keep the dog house cooler in warm weather and warmer in cold weather.

    Using a power drill and galvanized wood screws, attach your two-by-four boards in a square- or rectangular–shaped base frame that your base panel can rest square on top of. Place your side pieces inside of the front and back pieces, with the two-inch side of each board resting on the ground. Attach the base panel top by drilling a screw into each corner of the base.

    If adding insulation, do so and then seal it inside the floor by screwing another base panel into the opposite side of the base frame.

  5. Put Up Walls

    Using the two-by-two boards you cut to the height of your wall panels, screw one standing upright in each corner of your base. To create a secure structure, screw your side, front, and back wall panels onto the outside of these corner studs at the top and into the outside of your base at the bottom.

  6. Add a Roof

    There are a variety of roof styles you can create, but for this design, you’ll make a triangular, sloping roof that allows rain and snow to slide off and gives your dog some extra height to walk around comfortably. Your roof panels will rest on top of your four wall panels, meeting at a point at the top, and should lay perfectly if you’ve done everything correctly to this point.

    First, attach your remaining two-by-twos so that they run the length of the triangular portions of your front and back panels on the inside of the doghouse. These will provide additional support for the roof and a surface to drive screws through.

    Place each roof panel on top of its respective side, allowing an overhang at the top of each side wall. With the peak tight, secure the roof panels to the dog house with galvanized wood screws. With the roof secure, you may wish to cover it with asphalt roofing paper and shingles to make it more sturdy and to keep the wood from becoming saturated with moisture.

  7. Paint and Decorate

    A woman painting with a brush a wooden dog house
    Photo: Sladic / E+ / Getty Images

    Your final step is to customize your dog house! Using sandpaper, non-toxic exterior paints, and a paintbrush, you can sand and paint the exterior to match your own home or choose a fun theme to match your pup’s personality. If you have children or grandchildren, painting your dog house can be a fun craft project. You can even attach a name custom plate above the entrance.

    To furnish the interior, you may wish to add a comfy dog bed, blanket, or piece of carpeting. To secure the carpeting, you can simply glue it down with wood glue.

DIY Dog House vs. Hiring a Pro

Using this guide to build a simple wooden dog house as a DIY project, you’ll spend between $50 and $470 on materials. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to hire a handyperson to build a dog house for you is around $300, though high-end custom-made models can get up to $8,340. You can also call a local carpenter to see if they will take on the project.

Depending on your skill level and the material you use, you may save money building a dog house yourself. However, a professionally handcrafted dog house will likely last longer and allow for a more extensive array of customization options.

Additional Questions

What kind of wood should I use to build a dog house?

You should use non toxic, moisture-resistant wood to build a dog house. Some common options include cedar, pine, redwood, or fir.

Is it less expensive to build your own dog house?

It can certainly cost less to build your own dog house than to hire a pro. A basic wooden dog house is a fairly simple, budget-friendly DIY project that can be completed with basic tools and carpentry skills. Alternatively, you can buy and assemble prefabricated plastic dog houses from a pet store or hardware store.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.