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Dear James: Our dog spends much of his time out in the backyard, even when it is very hot or cold. I think I should build a doghouse for him. What is the best basic construction method for a doghouse? -- George T.

Dear George: Some pets do enjoy being outdoors, but they do not have the cognitive ability to determine when they are getting too cold, hot or wet from the rain. Building a doghouse seems like a good idea for him and it can be a fun family project.

First, visit some pet stores and inspect their doghouses. They should have guidelines as to the size of the doghouse and its opening relative to the size of the dog. Building one extra large is not a problem during the summer, but during winter, it may not keep your dog as warm. His body heat will have to warm up a larger volume of air.

Unless your dog is extremely large, you should be able to build much of the doghouse indoors and then do some final detail work outdoors. Make sure to measure your doorway dimensions so you can fit the doghouse through the door. With a roof overhang and some trim, it can end up being larger than you expected.

Use standard lumber for the majority of the doghouse and pressure-treated lumber for the feet. Residential pressure-treated lumber is supposed to be same, but I would not want my dog to be on it for extended periods of time. If your dog is a chewer, make galvanized steel metal feet instead.

The basic structure of a doghouse is similar to your own house. It will have lumber framing covered by siding or plywood and have a pitched roof. If you pitch the roof high enough, your dog will not be able to lie down on top of it. A highly pitched roof also looks better and minimizes the possibility of leaks when it rains.

If you think your dog will like to lie down on the roof as some dogs do, make a flat roof with just a slight slope. A shingled roof can get quite hot during the summer, so use exterior-grade plywood for the sloped roof and leave a generous overhang over the sides. Paint the roof white to keep it cooler in the sun. White will absorb the least amount of the sun's heat.

Make the framing for the floor using 2x4 or 2x2 lumber, depending upon the size of your dog. Use exterior-grade plywood for the floor and size it to fit flush with the floor framing. Drill some 1/4-inch vent and drain holes in the plywood floor.

Use 2x2 lumber and thin plywood to make the vertical side panels. The plywood should extend downward past to the side framing so it covers the sides of the floor framing. This makes a nicer appearance and increases the strength of the entire structure. Screw the roof sheathing to the side framing so you can remove it at a future time. Drill some vent holes near the top of the sides.

Take a clear plastic shower curtain and staple two layers of it only at the top over the door. Using a scissors, cut it into narrow vertical strips. This will help block cold winter breezes from blowing the door.

Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit



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