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How to build the perfect dog kennel

A dog’s home is his castle, so there are a few guidelines to consider when designing a dog kennel.

Whether building or purchasing a new outdoor kennel or rebuilding an old one, a hunting dog owner can create a better end product by following guidelines developed through the experiences of many other canine guardians.

The suggestions offered here come primarily from Gun Dog readers who have spent a great deal of time, effort, and money learning how to locate, design, and build an outdoor home for their dogs. Along the way, mistakes were made, but good ideas prevailed. These are some of the best of them.


Deciding on a location is an important first step in building a kennel, as the location chosen will directly contribute to the design of the structure and influence the choice of materials and construction methods in the production of the final product.

A kennel located away from the owner’s house will have different characteristics from a pen directly connected to an attached garage. Each location has advantages and disadvantages that require careful consideration before design and construction begins.

“A kennel several meters from human habitation has the advantage of separating people from dog noise (barking), dog smell (the smell of dog urine and feces) and flies. (attracted to the dog’s urine and feces),” notes Vernon Austin, owner of a Llewellin setter, bird breeder and hunter for over 50 years. “Also, the view of a dog and its outer home may be removed from view (an aesthetic consideration for some people).”

In Austin’s view, possible downsides to this remote location include bark control, which is more difficult because the long distance makes a trip to the kennel for correction time-consuming and inconvenient. Keeping the kennel clean is also a bigger chore, requiring more time and effort, as well as a readily available special water source.

Likewise, having lights for security or electricity for heating and/or air conditioning (yes, some dog enclosures have both) may require the installation of electrical service lines. “With a remote location, the canine keeper has a long distance to travel outdoors in all sorts of adverse conditions,” comments Austin.

Locating a kennel closer to the house has the benefits of proximity to controlling nuisance barking. Using voice commands to “quiet” can usually be given more easily and can be applied more effectively when the dog is within earshot, according to Dale Wright, owner of a German Wirehaired Pointer in Minnesota.

“Similarly, cleaning the kennel is less of a hassle with household water sources and a garden hose is often at hand, so odor and insect problems are resolved more quickly. and efficiently,” says Wright.

A dog’s safety and security can be best maintained when the dog in question is also within easy sight distance, says Wright.

Suitable materials

“Any outdoor dog enclosure should be narrow, 48 inches long and 12 feet or more long, as the standard dimensions,” says Dave Schmidt, owner of a South Carolina Springer Spaniel. “The reason for these dimensions is to encourage dogs to urinate and defecate naturally at the end of the run in a location furthest from the entrance to the dog house or the front door of a building.

“The 48-inch width gives someone with a short-handled, flat-bottomed shovel just enough room to scoop up a load of poop, then turn around to dump the contents of the shovel into a container.

“The floors in the kennels should be designed with enough slope for the water to run off to avoid puddles. The floor in my kennel also slopes to a hand-dug 48″ dry well”. inches wide by 3 feet deep, positioned at the end and filled with stone aggregate 3 to 4 inches in diameter The purpose of the dry well is to have a place where wash water can collect and drain under loose rocks where odor is minimal and insects cannot reach the residue of feces and urine.”

Placing a dog kennel near a house or garage allows for easier cleaning and maintenance throughout the year. (photo of hunting dog)

In Schmidt’s design, the entry doors are located on the side of the kennel run closest to the kennel opening and furthest from the end of the run.

“With gates at the end of the kennel, dogs have to stand up and walk through pee and poop as they exit and enter the run, scattering feces everywhere,” Schmidt explains as the reason for placing his gates. side entrance instead. at the end of the kennel route.

“My outdoor kennels all have some kind of cover so my dogs can get some shade in the hot weather and have a dry place to stay safe from the rain or snow,” says Jim Nevers, a vizsla owner. of Pennsylvania. “Some kennels are covered with stiff wire mesh to keep rambunctious dogs from climbing and hot trotting males from climbing when there are females in heat.”

Floors and Walls

Concrete is the most common material for kennel floors. “I’ve seen alternatives to concrete like gravel, which, although cheaper, makes picking up feces difficult and sometimes impossible,” says Elizabeth Conrady, owner of a German Shorthaired Pointer.

There are more options like steel and wood, but concrete, while more expensive and difficult to install, is stronger and more durable, according to Conrady.

“Yes, most concrete will crack, so expect that,” she admits. “With extreme weather and temperatures, the ground shifts and the concrete can warp, split and separate. Much of this can be controlled to some degree if high quality cement is used and reinforced with rebar and wire. Having a well-compacted dirt surface with a gravel underlay will also help prevent the concrete from cracking.”

Closing Options

Chain link fences for outdoor and indoor kennel runs have always been popular due to their simple installation, efficiency in use, long term durability and relatively low cost. “Chain link, for us, is the most popular fencing product because it’s easy to find, easy to install and easy to maintain,” says Hank Shaw, who has been raising American Britons for 15 years.

“We built our three-stall course 20 years ago, and while our chain link may not look as good as new, it certainly performs as well as the day we used it.”

Larry Devries, who breeds and hunts Chesapeake Bay Retrievers in eastern Maine, prefers welded wire.

Dog house with concrete floor and chain link walls.
Popular outdoor dog enclosures often include concrete floors and chain link walls. (photo of hunting dog)

“Welded wire with a powder coating is our choice for fencing because this material is so resistant to urine and dog teeth,” he says. “Although initially more expensive than other fences, its overall wear resistance makes this product worthwhile. I’ve had some strong, persistent Chessies who tried to chew on the welded wire but gave up due to a lack of advance.”

Jeff Berg, a pointing Labrador breeder, offers another opinion.

“For a windbreak and for privacy purposes, I used one-inch-thick treated lumber, metal siding and fiberboard,” he says. “Each material has advantages and disadvantages. Treated pine, 1 inch thick, 6 inches wide and 4 feet long, when spaced one inch apart, breaks the wind while letting in some air and also providing some privacy.

“This material, however, does not hold up well to dog teeth. For more wind protection, more chew resistance, and greater privacy, sheet metal or fiberboard siding is probably better. “, concludes Berg.

Many hunting dogs probably spend 95% of their lives in an outdoor kennel, expecting daily exercise, training, and field and water days during hunting season.

As such, we owe it to them to make their accommodation as comfortable and clean as possible. By implementing these suggestions, you should be able to provide your hunting dog with a kennel that he will be happy to call “home”.

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