Doggie Digs

Since starting our new jobs down in Virginia, Ollie has been getting used to her new work in her new backyard- totally new harems of squirrels to control and bird families to keep in check. We quickly did an upgrade to the grass situation after moving in to alleviate dog + mud problems, and recently completed a new outdoor house for her to kick back in while we are at work. Her old plastic house just didn’t cut the mustard for wintery weather. So on the weekend before our first major cold snap a few weeks ago, we did our first construction project of the year, Ollie’s Uber-Insulated Winter House. We decided to build one ourselves so we could tailor it to suit Ollie’s work needs (intensive squirrel watching out of the weather) with our cheap-o ways (did you know there are actually $500 insulated dog houses out there?? And they don’t even have windows…). So we started with a dumpster dive to scavenge some plywood from Chad’s work. Yup, shipping containers for caskets. Plywood is plywood, people.

dumpster dive

First we cut a piece down to size to make a base, complete with the pre-attached framing to keep the floor of the dog house off the ground. We braced it with a 2 by 2 piece, a number of which we purchased at Home Depot for framing things up.


We did an awful lot of staple-pulling to detach all the other 1 by 3’s from the plywood pieces to continue, but that’s what you do for free plywood. Ollie enjoyed the view from the basement while we worked in the garage.

Ollie watching garage project

Eventually we had a back attached, which we followed up with 2 by 2’s in each corner to act as framing for the sides. We angle cut each side to match so that the roof would have a slant towards the back of the house.

one wall up side cut

Sides securely attached, we did a dog-test for size and were pretty pleased with how roomie it seemed!

three walls up dog test

We decided to start insulating the 3 walls before attaching the front so that we could do a really thorough job on the insulation. We used styrofoam sheets (from HD) cut to fit on each wall…

insulation board

…and then covered that over on all sides with double reflective cell foam rolled insulation made from mylar using a staple gun.

begin staple cell foam

The three walls were done with one continuous sheet to alleviate any drafts and the floor piece was left to fold up the walls a few inches on all sides so there wouldn’t be drafts from the base either. This was gonna be one warm and cozy doggie space shuttle… atleast that’s what it was looking like after the mylar stuff.

3 wall space ship

We worked on the front wall separately, first installing a window (hello, no other dog houses for purchase have windows! how is the dog supposed to watch squirrels??). This is truly my favorite part of the house. We purchased 2 pieces of plexiglass and cut the window opening to be just smaller than the plexi sheets. By the way, all the cuts were made with Chad’s circular saw. Then we predrilled several holes around the edge of the plexi, applied a single line of silicone caulking all the way around to block drafts and attached over the window opening using small screws. And that’s not all! We did the same procedure with the second sheet of plexi on the inside to make a double-pane window. Not your average dog house, folks.

window install

With the window, door flaps and insulation in place on the front wall, we attached it and were darn near finished with the basic construction phase.

front attached

The door flaps (atleast for now) are improvised with two layers of small garage mats (saw them for $2.50 each and decided to make it work). We cut the flaps opposite each other to help block wind, with this obviously being the weak link in our mega-insulated house plan.

double door

We kept bringing Ollie in throughout the process, particularly in deciding how to cut the door dimensions- just big enough to prevent her from hurting her back ducking in but not so big to make it drafty. The rest of our garage mats were used to line the bottom, protecting the (for now) exposed insulation layer from toenails. We also cut a hole for her electric heated kennel pad that we moved in from her old house. A warm pad plus real insulation will keep her comfortable in winters here, where low temps in the morning are rarely more than 10 degrees below freezing and most days are above freezing and into the 40’s by mid-day.

dog test no lid

I must say, that is one nice window.

window view dog

So this is where we left off, with some exterior beautification plans in the works. For now, it keeps Ollie cozy, but I’m chewing on some different ideas for siding or maybe exterior texture paint for a stucco look, as well as types of roofing. Maybe in the end we will even rival this swanky place…

I can see it now, HGTV doggie dream home… will keep you posted on that process. For now, we’ve spent about $90 on materials, so waaay less than what a comparable (window-less!) house could have been purchased for. And Ollie has the coziest house on the block, which means we rest work easy during the day while she is left at working from home out in the yard.

3 thoughts on “Doggie Digs

  1. Pingback: Can We Just Finish Some Patio Furniture Please? | Family Style Living

  2. I just want to say thank you for posting these plans. I never would have thought to use the reflective insulation on the interior walls. I added a double layer of celotex insulation between the inside and outside walls and put a remote read thermometer on the inside near the top of the box. It keeps our 150# French Mastiff 14-16 degrees warmer than ambient. As I type, it is a chilly 38 deg but he is sleeping in a balmy 54 deg bed. Thanks again, nice job.

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