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Old 08-14-2006, 01:56 PM
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oc_spirit oc_spirit is offline
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Default Designing A Kennel For Your Outdoor Dog

Time and again people post questions on keeping a dog outside. Time and again people ump on them saying it''s the wrong thing to do. Actually a dog of any breed can be kept successfully outside it just takes a little bit of time, effort and money.

First thing is you have to know your breed. You have to know the limit of temperature extremes that they can handle naturally. If your climate exceeds this in any way then you will have to tailor your dog''s kennel to accomodate this. If he cant take the cold you will need to be able to heat his house. If he can;t take the heat either search for another breed or supply a cooling system to the kennel either by way of kiddie pool, fans, or I''ve even seen a doghouse with AC.

One thing that really helps cool down a kennel is shade and wind flow. Its a good idea to provide a roof over the kennel anyways so it doesn''t rain in the kennel or snow, but a roof will also provide lots of shade. Make sure to extend the roof past the kennel walls because the sun doesn''t sit right above the kennel all day, it moves and can glare into the kennel at an angle if the roof doesn;t extend far enough. Also place the kennel at an angle that channels the wind through the kennel. Our kennel is about 3-5 degrees celcius cooler during the summer just because if the shade and wind flow that it gets.

The flooring of a kennel should be cement of some sort. we chose to use patio stones because the groves allow water to flow out nicely and it has a smooth texture for ease on the pads. This flooring will prevent your dog from being able to dig out, having to deal with a muddy mess if it rains, and provides easy clean up if he happens to eliminate in his kennel. Just pick up, spray, scrub, spray and let dry. Shaded cement also becomes nice and cool which is pleasant to lie on during hot days, however during winter this can cause stiff joints and lead to arthiritis so it is best to put a rubber stall mat down for your dog or something that''s easy to clean that will insulate him from the cold ground. The nice thing about a black rubber stall mat is if the sun hits it, it will absorb the heat and provide and nice warm spot for your dog to lie on if he shooses not to be in his house.

Many dogs also enjoy various heights. Providing a nice structure for your dog to lie on will give him this option, it also gives him a spot to be off the ground without being in the doghouse. It gives him a nice place to view his land lol

If your kennel is next to yuor yard fence and you have chain link or anything that isnt a privacy fence (a good idea since dogs like to be able to look out and see the world and see what''s going on so they don''t get bored so easily - but watch out for you dog becoming a barker at everyone that goes by) you should get some wire mesh and put it in between the kennel and your fence. This allows your dog to see out, doesn''t obstruct wind flow, but also stops people from being able to put their hands through the fence, and give your dog something that could harm him.

The doghouse should be insulated for sure. Insulation will keep it warm in winter and cool in summer. It is very important to keep a doghouse raised off the ground so the moisture from the ground doesn''t seep in, cool th house down during winter, and rot the wood. If you attach the doghouse from the outside of the kennel, you won''t take away any of your dog''s floor space. It''s a good idea to put cedar shavings in the house during summer because cedar keeps fleas away, gives a nice smell instead of having that doggy smell, provides something comfy for your dog to lie on, and will absorb any moisture very fast if your dog has an accident or he gets wet. In the winter i use a layer of cedar shavings with a layer of straw n top. Honestly straw is the best insulator and if you put enough in the house, your dog will tunnel into it and make himself a nice nest which keeps him remarkably warm and cozy. Some people like to put dog beds or mats in the doghouse, I don;t recommend this because if it gets wet or dirty it''s very hard to clean and dry properly, or you may not even notice it, and then it could get moldy and mold is poisonous to dogs and humans. Remember to change your shavings and straw every 2-3 months. It;s also a good idea to attach a door to the opening of the doghouse during winter and remove it during summer. The door will help conserve body heat and keep it in the house to keep your dog cozy in the winter, and during the summer, not having it will allow a little bit of windflow to keep the house cooler. The door will also stop snow from getting in the house, melting, and making the inside wet.

Fresh water should always be provided for your dog in his kennel. I use a horse stall bucket because I can fill it right up and know if I leave for the day that the boys wont have it empty by the time I come home. It''s a good idea to attach the bucket to the kennel in some way or place the bucket inside a tire so the dogs can''t knock it over and spill it while they;re playing. Dog dishes are very shallow and could dry up fast or your dogs could drink all the water. During the summer I use a blue plastic water bucket and during the winter I use a black rubber one. The black attracts the sun and heat to keep the water from freezing too quick and the rubber insulates against the cold too. None the less during the winter you must check the water frequently to see if it has frozen. Remember, in the winter if you come home from intense excercise with your dog you shouldn''t let him drink water that''s been sitting in the kennel because it is too cold and you could shock your dog''s system if he takes in too much. It''s best to let him drink fresh water from the tap. It''s cool, but not too cold. also remember that water spread out in a shallow area will freeze faster than deep water. Also if the water just gets a little bit of ice at the top (about an inch) a dog is still capable of licking through it to get at the water underneath so no need to worry about waking up in the middle of the night to change your dog''s water.

Remember that wind flow I talked about earlier? You don;''t want it during the winter. Get some sheets of plexiglass and put them up on the sides of your kennel. Don;t cover all the sides because you do want a little bit of wind flow, just cover where the wind come in the most. We cover everything except the door. but only 3/4 of the way up the sides.

Not a necessity but a good idea is to have a light in the kennel. Just makes things easier when trying to navigate when it gets dark at 5pm during the winter. If you do put in a light though make sure the wires aren''t anywhere where the dogs have access to them so they don''t chew them and get electrocuted.

Remember to provide safe chew toys for your dog to play with while hes in the kennel. Stuffed kongs, nylabones, gummabones, rope toys, cuz toys, anything you know your dog is ok with.

The most important thing to remember if you choose to keep your dog outside is to pay attention to him. It''s best to allow your dog some time in the house for bonding time. Even if it just to lay at your feet while you watch tv. Also make sure to still provide plenty of excercise just like you would an indoor dog. And for the record, a couple hours a day of attention is NOT enough!!!! You need to devote plenty of time. Your dog wnats to be with you so let him. Anytime I''m at home I have the dogs inside with me. Also if we have storms, lots of rain, or intense heat, the boys sleep inside. Depending on the breed of dog you own frigid temperatures would be another reason to bring them in. Remember, just because your dog''s breed says he can handle a certain temperature, doesn''t mean your dog can. If he has spent a lot of time in the house chances are, in the middle of winter he won;''t have the coat to tolerate -30C so you must expose him slowly so he can develop that coat before you make him spend the entire night out there. Also some dogs just can''t grow the right coat. You must know your dog and know he can handle it!!! Don''t assume!!!! Older dogs shouldn''t be asked to spend great amounts of time outside in cold weather because it can make them achey and they tend to not be able to grow as good of a coat especially if they haven''t lived outside their whole life.

I think I''ve covered everything...if you have any questions feel free to ask!

Summer Kennel - as you can see we do keep one piece of plexiglass up, actually that''s glass, it''s an old storm door, this is to keep rain off of the wood so the boys can lay upon it without getting wet if it''s a driving rain. This is also before we got the mesh, hmm i think i need some new pictures!)


The second doghouse is now where the picnic table is in this picture


Winter Kennel (hard to see evrything because this was taken at night)


The one sheet of plexiglass is missing from the side of the kennel because this was an early snow so we only had the the sheet you can see beside the doghouse, and the one on the other side. Those are the two main ones that need to be put up anyways cause that is the greatest wind flow
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Old 08-14-2006, 02:29 PM
Angel Chicken
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This is a great pist OC!

I hope many will read it, and hopefully learn from it!


Heck, I think this should be stickied!
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Old 08-14-2006, 02:57 PM
~Tucker&Me~ ~Tucker&Me~ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Angel Chicken
This is a great pist OC!

I hope many will read it, and hopefully learn from it!


Heck, I think this should be stickied!
Ditto

~Tucker
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Old 08-14-2006, 03:04 PM
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*blush* thanks guys!!!

I forgot to mention something (I knew I would):

During the winter time your dog will need extra kibble than what he normally takes in. This is for extra fuel to keep him warm. Also if you only feed once a day it''s best to divide that into twice a day during the winter. The act of digestion helps keep your dog warm (like excercising heats you up) so if he''s constantly digesting something it''ll help him out. Some people give their dog pure beef fat or skillet grease with their kibble for that little extra bit of warmth but if you decide to go this route it is important you carefully watch yuor dog''s weight. In the winter it''s ok for an outdoor dog to be a little bit heavier because the extra fat will help him keep warm too. Don''t let him get overweight though! You should still always be able to feel his ribs when you press lightly on his side and he should always have a good topline. To get an idea of how much kibble to increase the boys go from 1.5cups of food a day during the summer to 2 cups a day during the winter.
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www.northernblackout.webs.com

"When the rain pours down from the heavens, take my hand and spin me around and we shall dance through the barn at midnight until the moon pokes through the clouds once more and the stars continue our dances in the skies"

Last edited by oc_spirit; 08-14-2006 at 03:16 PM.
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Old 08-14-2006, 03:29 PM
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Good design and advice, OC . . .
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Old 08-15-2006, 11:39 AM
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As promised I got some better pictures of the Summer Kennel.

How the doghouse is attached from the outside


The other doghouse


The light, notice the wires are kept up high and out of reach of the dogs


The wire mesh between the yard fence (black) and the kennel fence (grey)
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"When the rain pours down from the heavens, take my hand and spin me around and we shall dance through the barn at midnight until the moon pokes through the clouds once more and the stars continue our dances in the skies"
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Old 08-15-2006, 11:40 AM
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Summer Kennel a broad view




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Old 08-15-2006, 03:07 PM
dogstarsleddogs dogstarsleddogs is offline
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Another thing, not really related to kennel design, but still very much important. It is a must you clean up after the dogs once a day. Twice a day is perferable. You dont want any poop at all laying around. My perfered method is a rake, shovel and 5 gal. bucket. Rake up the poo on the shovel, and throw in bucket. When your done, dispose of the poo. I have a large hole dug into the ground, it was 4'x4'x5', and is almost completly full.
Also, make sure you protec against flys/mosquitos/bugs. I like the Bronco horse spray for thier backs, and when flys are light, and the Swat/Flys Off ointment or the ears.
Also, make sure the house is painted with outdoor paint, and caulked around all the seams. As for the height Ren mentioned, I like atleast 4" above the ground. Dont use carpet or a car floor mat for a door flap. There is a chance in the winter they become soaked, then frozen. Making it extremly hard to open.
If water doesnt stay unfrozen long enough in winter, or your dog doesnt like to drink plain water (like mine), make sure all they're meals are given with water. This means mixing kibble with water. Dont soak it. Use warm water (not hot, like baby formula temp) in winter, and cold in summer. A dog needs atleast 1 oz of water per pound of body weight. You want meals to be about 75% water. (Equal to dogs' water content, and water content of meat) If its cold, hot, or they're exersizing, this ammount can double. Mine get kibble with 1 qt of water twice a day, and have had no problems. Or also in the cold, give them thier daily ration spread out through 3-4 meals a day. If its cold or hot, I go out in the afternoon and give them another qt of baited water. Use whatever your dog likes. Tuna, a bit of kibble, canned cat food, etc. I use 1 c. low sodium broth with 1/2 c kibble for every 6 quarts. Make sure everyone is peeing clear. Hydration is #1.
If you cant put in a light, get a head lamp. If you dont know what these are, they're basically a flashlight on an elastic band that goes around your head. Hands free light.
If the dogs start picking up thier feet in the cold, put booties on them! Fleece booties are best.
With the snow, check thier paws atleast twice a day for snowballs.
With them being outside, you have to be extra careful with the heartworm meds. Make sure you start a full month before mosquitos appear, and a full month after they're gone. (This is May-November for us) I also deworm them every other month.
About 3 months before winter, (or all year round) switch to a higher fat kibble. Mine are on 30/20 all year long. If you do this, make sure you reduce the summer rations!
This is all I can think of...
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Old 08-15-2006, 03:17 PM
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Some very good points! Although most people here are pet dog owners not sledders like you and me so they don;t really need the higher protein/fat content kibble, just feeding a little extra of their normal kibble will do the trick just fine
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www.northernblackout.webs.com

"When the rain pours down from the heavens, take my hand and spin me around and we shall dance through the barn at midnight until the moon pokes through the clouds once more and the stars continue our dances in the skies"
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Old 08-15-2006, 03:21 PM
dogstarsleddogs dogstarsleddogs is offline
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More:
In the summer, if you cant get kiddie pools, soak everyone down to the skin with a hose. Or put in sprinklers. I also give them a huge hunk of ice in their bowl. They like licking it, and it keeps everything chilly.
Make sure the grass around your kennel is as short as you can get it if you have ticks. Also use a tick collar or Frontline.
Some people also disinfect thier kennel with a 30:1 ratio of bleach a few times in the year.
Also, for the houses, I have the roof over hang 4" so water doesnt drip into the door.
Dont make the door right at the bottom. Have it up a few inches. This is so the straw/cedar chips stay in the house, and dont get drug out as much.
Make the door big enough so you can crawl in there, but small enough to help hold in heat. Mine are 14x12".
Also, make the house big enough so its roomy, but small enough to hold in the heat. For your average 50 lb dog, 2'x3' is nice.
If you use chain link fence, make sure nothing on the dog's collar can get caught. This means remove rabies tags, and the "regular" ID tags. Either get your phone number sewn onto the collar, or get a flat ID tag. I think Boomerang Tags has them. (Dont remember the website address)
If you have multiple dogs living outside, make sure everyone can play with everyone else.
OK, thats all I can think of again...
EDIT: Didnt see your reply about the higher fat/protein kibble. It really depends on the dog. I've had to feed my dogs nearly 4 cups a day of 26/18 before in the winter. (Very moderate work conditions) I guess it depends on how much kibble you need/want to feed. The more kibble you feed, the more clean up. Or whats available, what your dog can handle (some dogs dont do too well on a "rich" diet....etc...
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