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CHAPTER TWO 

 

Shopping Guidelines for a Dog House 

 

  

As a dog parent you are faced with a variety of choices when shopping for a dog house. A few of the big decisions you have to make are: 

  

 The amount to shell out  

 How small or big the house to get  

 What style or type of house  

 

But there are various other supplementary questions to be addressed:  

 

Are you interested in wood, plastic, or metal? If you choose for wood, do you prefer a peaked or flat roof? Centered or off-set doorway? Painted or coated? And so on and so forth.  

 What's the best way to heat?  

 Will your dog love it?  

 

Don't be overwhelmed though. With proper research and consideration for what your dog really needs (and not what you really want), you'll get there without even a headache. 

  

So, What Now? Plastic, Wood, or Metal?  

 

A fundamental decision to be made at the start is whether to obtain a plastic, a wood, or a metal dog house. Let's start with the plastic. Dog houses constructed from plastic are often lighter and more affordable than wood ones. They're very easy to transport, lack splinters, don't decay, and don't need refinishing. They are also easy to clean and don't have tiny holes for fleas and ticks to produce nests.  

 

Alternatively, wood dog houses are usually more substantial than plastic ones, they provide more design add-on options, and they'll supply your dog better protection from the elements. Wood is a far better insulator than plastic so your pet is less likely to overheat inside a wood house. It has a tendency to produce warmer, fuzzier feelings than plastic material ever will. And lots of people choose the natural look of wood to plastic. Tics and fleas can generate problems with wood houses however this can be mitigated by getting a cedar wood house and using cedar shavings for bedding.  

 

On the other hand, metal can also be used for dog houses. Such constructions are usually known as dog "boxes" and are often utilized to transport dogs and offer temporary housing for shows and competitive sports. Nonetheless, some owners certainly use them as year-round houses. Metal dog boxes are constructed from aluminum or stainless steel and are often insulated because metal by itself is an inadequate insulator. Most dog boxes don't come cheap however they are usually very solidly built and will most likely outlive your dog. 

  

Dog House Size  

 

Choosing the right house size for your dog can be one of the more complicated facets of dog house shopping. That's most likely because there are all sorts of guidelines available. Without being excessively technical, here are some ideas to help you identify what you and your dog really need:  

 

The dog house needs to be large enough so that your pet can turn around in it and lie down completely stretched out inside.  

 

Bigger isn't usually better. Canines feel safer in small spaces. Additionally, an extra-large dog house is trickier to keep warm during cold weather.  

 

If your dog is still a pup, research what her average adult weight and size will be and pick a house keeping that in mind.  

 

Before shelling out a lot of money on a dog house, think about making a cardboard mock-up that has the identical dimensions as the house. Cajole your dog inside and see if he can easily turnaround and lie down easily.  

 

Entrance and Door  

 

Probably the first consideration for a proper sized dog house is the doorway. It needs to be big enough for your dog to easily enter and exit of the house however, not so big that it leads to excessive heat loss and over-exposure to the elements. Keep in mind that, unlike people, dogs need smaller doors than what their total height is. They don't have any problems with having to duck to enter a house.  

 

Just how big should a doorway be? There are least two guidelines employed to know for sure. The first one states that the door height opening should not be less than 3/4 of the dog's shoulder to ground height. The second rule states that the opening needs to be at least 1" more than the distance from the top of the dog's shoulder to the bottom of his chest. No matter formula used, these are minimum entrance heights; you can acquire a house with a taller doorway, just remember that heat retention and coziness could suffer.  

 

The width of a dog house doorway has to be just a bit larger than the girth of your dog. The location of the doorway can be crucial, too. The classic style dog house has the doorway centered in the middle of the house. This looks okay but may not be ideal depending on the harshness of your weather and your dog's desire for privacy.  

 

A dog house entrance that is situated off center reduces direct exposure to the outdoor elements and gives extra privacy space indoors for your dog to hang out. An off center doorway also offers extra room to insert an interior wind deflection panel which further increases the warmth and coziness of the house.  

 

Some doors are created to be detachable. This is good in terms of improving air flow during the hot summer so long as you don't mind a little rain getting in from time to time. If you find a house that you like but it doesn't come with a doorway, don't worry. You can get some vinyl from the store and build your own. 

  

Roof Type  

 

If you're looking for a wooden dog house, you'll have to determine what type of roof you want. This is both a style and function selection. Wooden dog houses typically feature either: 1) the classic pitched roof made from two sections joined together to create a peak, or 2) the single panel roof, generally with a gentle slope from the front to the back of the house. 

 

A third type of roof is the loft or sun deck style roof, which is often a single or double panel roof with an attached wooden platform on top.  

 

Raised Floor  

 

Preferably, a dog house must have an insulated floor that is raised a few inches above the ground. This "dead air space" gives an extra measure of insulation, keeps dampness away from the house and your dog, and gives extra protection against flea invasion from hatching eggs in the soil. A raised floor additionally stops the wood from rotting thereby extending the life of the dog house. 

  

Some dog houses are created with skid plates or expanded corner posts to elevate the house above the ground. A similar result can be achieved by placing the house on top of bricks, stones, or 4x4 blocks of wood.  

 

Despite having a raised floor, the wood on the underside of the floor can be susceptible to rotting as time passes - particularly wood in direct exposure to the ground. To reduce rotting, choose a dog house that utilizes decay resistant woods like cedar or redwood.  

 

Bedding  

 

Not every type of dog house bedding is the same. You'll often find guidelines to use blankets, towels, carpet, hay, straw, old newspapers, just about whatever you can get your hands on. The issue with most of these materials is that they entice and sustain fleas, tics, and other critters. They're also prone to mold and mildew.  

 

A more sensible choice is to use cedar shavings for bedding since the oils in the cedar will get rid of fleas and ticks. Even so, know that the cedar oils trigger contact allergies in a small number of dogs. To reduce this possibility - also to keep the house neater - you can get a dog bed cover with a liner and stuff the liner with the wood chips.  

 

Ventilation 

If a dog house falls short of sufficient ventilation, the air will become hot and sweltering throughout the summer, making an unpleasant and possibly dangerous environment for your dog. During the winter, poor ventilation may lead to excessive moisture buildup from the dog's breathing. This moisture will condense on the interior surfaces setting up a clammy environment and alluring bugs and mildew to take up residence. So, correct ventilation is vital. 

  

The doorway opening certainly offers a certain degree of ventilation but if a door flap is used, the ventilation will be limited. This is really a problem during the winter when door flaps are used to maintain the house warmer.  

 

Just a few small quarter-sized holes on top of a house will usually suffice for venting. Keep in mind, hot air rises. Some houses have slatted ventilation openings, usually in the design of windows. These can work rather effectively at bettering air flow while keeping out snow and rain. Nonetheless, if the opening wrong in size, this can result in extreme heat loss during the winter. Be ready to partially conceal the openings with something like vinyl door flap material.  

 

Heating  

 

To heat or not to heat. That is a concern that dog house buyers at times deal with. There are really two inquiries to respond to:

1) Does your dog need additional heat to keep warm?

2) If that's the case, what's the best way to heat the house?  

 

Heating a Dog House 

  

If your home is in an area with freezing winters, the temperature may get so cold on occasion that your dog's body heat isn't sufficient to keep him warm in the dog house.  

 

This is most likely to be true with older dogs since their metabolism and overall fitness isn't what it had been. The same pertains to sick dogs or canines who are recovering from an ailment. In these scenarios, a heated dog house can make a big difference.  

 

A heated dog house is likewise encouraged if the house will be utilized for whelping. 

Correct Cold Temperature Construction  

 

Prior to getting into the basics of heating a dog house, it's worth mentioning that a properly constructed dog house goes quite a distance towards keeping your pet comfy warm during the winter. Preferably, a cold weather dog house has the following elements:  

 

The dog house floor is insulated and raised above the ground. A cement floor is nice and cool during the cold months but bitter cold in the wintertime. It soaks the warmth right out of live things. Insulated wood is best. In a pinch, you can place the dog house on top of a wooden pallet.  

 

The house is big enough for your dog to comfortably turn around and to stretch out however, not so large that its own body heat can't maintain the house warm.  

The floor, walls, and roof of the dog house are insulated.  

The doorway has some sort of door. A flap of clear vinyl or carpet will be enough.  

The house has an interior wind break wall so your pet is better protected against the elements.  

 

Items for Heating a Dog House  

 

With regards to heating a dog house, below are a few recommendations you can consider.  

 

Heated Kennel Mat  

 

The easiest and cheapest approach to heating a dog house is to use a heated kennel mat or heating pad. You just place it on the floor of the dog house and plug it in. As an alternative, the mat could be hung on a wall of the house so the dog could lie against instead of over it.  

 

A heated mat is a superb way to warm your pet - particularly if the house is insulated - though some owners may be a bit concern about their dog sleeping right on an electric device with a cord running from it. This is really a concern if your pet is a chewer. Be aware that most mats have a metal safety coil round the cord so if you can Run the unprotected section of the cord out of the dog's reach, it'll be fine. Otherwise, you may consider encasing the rest of the cable with PVC pipe. A heated dog mat is suitable for wood, metal, and plastic dog houses. Most other heating sources are equipped for wood or metal houses only. 

  

Heated Dog Bed  

 

Heated canine beds are the same in some respects to heated kennel mats with the main distinction being that they are made for indoor use only. They offer radiant heating from a heating strip hidden inside the padded bed that keeps the top of bed about 12° to 15° above the ambient air temperature.  

 

The outer covers are often detachable and washable. For those who have a drafty house or maybe an older dog with poor circulation, a heated dog bed is an inexpensive way to keep your pet warm and comfortable. Energy consumption is minimal - on the same level as the 10-watt bulb.  

 

Heater Box  

 

A dog house heater box is essentially a metal box with a light bulb or ceramic emitter inside. The box mounts in an upper nook of the dog house so as to not impinge on your dog's sleeping space and warms the house in similar way as the egg incubator does.  

 

At present, there are just a few designs of heater boxes available.


Chapter Three

 

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