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Dog houses for Westies

To get a doghouse for any dog seems like a simple decision. They come in smart, colourful designs, keep the dog dry or out of the sun, and look nice in the garden. Besides, Zuzu looks so cute lying the the doorway.

But, does a Westie need a doghouse? We keep our Westies indoors for the major part of each day in the long winter months. In summer, they are inside in inclement weather, and always at night. However, when weather and temperature are right, spending time outside is the spice of life for a Westie. Anything we can do to safely prolong that time is good. Having a doghouse for a Westie doesn’t mean he should spend the night outside, even with a good fenced yard. Westies are diggers and can escape the fenced yard if left unsupervised. Also, the dog could be stolen or set free by thoughtless people.

Size
In the right size doghouse, your Westie should be able to stand up with its head up and lie down fully stretched out. If you have two Westies, you will need a larger size.

Plastic Houses
Plastic doghouses are easily available at hardware stores, ‘bigbox’ department stores, as well as lumber yards, home building supply stores etc. Of course some pet stores carry them too. Other advantages are that they come ready-to-use in many styles. There is no maintenance. They are waterproof and don’t decay as wood does. Some of the disadvantages are that almost none are double walled; a few have a double roof, but most are single thickness plastic throughout. This means the doghouse will quickly become too hot for the dog if located in the summer sun. Most models have no ventilation except the door, so there is no cross draught. The door is usually in the centre of the front panel, which means that when it rains, unless you have attached a plastic flap over the door, the rain will blow in and wet a good portion of the floor.

Wood Houses
Wood, ready-made doghouses are harder to find, but, are available at times in the same type of stores as carry the plastic ones. Some stores, specializing in wood furniture or lawn ornaments also have doghouses at times. These things seem to be a seasonal item. Ready-made wood houses come in the flat board or the rounded log style, resembling a little cabin. Some are painted, and some are stained. If you get a painted one, make sure the paint is ‘lead-free’. Wood always looks nice, and fits into any style of landscaping. It does however require some attention eg. repainting, or staining as the years pass, to prevent the wood from rotting. The wood ready-made houses are a little more pricey than the plastic ones. Garage sales a good place to look for bargains. Wood houses also come in kits, but they are not necessarily any less expensive.

Some Other Considerations
to prevent the rain from blowing into any dog house with the door in the centre of the front panel, fasten a flexible plastic flap to the top of the doorway. The dog can easily push his way in and out, but the rain stays out.

look for a house that has at least a double walled insulated roof, and preferably one with double walled insulated sides also. This protects the house from becoming so hot the dog will not use it.

look for ventilation openings to provide a cross draft. If your doghouse is single thickness, holes can easily be drilled with a brace and one inch bit. Electric drills go fast enough to rip plastic, but work well for making ventilation holes in the wood houses.

placing a 2" thick board under the front, and a 2 1/2" board under the back allows the house to rest at a slight angle and be up off the ground. Any rain getting in will run to the front edge where, if you drill 1/4" holes in the floor, it will drain away. This is especially helpful for wooden houses to prevent floor rot.

a slanted or pitched roof as opposed to a flat roof prevents inside leaks.

place the doghouse in the yard so you can see if the dog is asleep inside and you won’t have to go looking for him. Locate it under a tree or in the lee of a garage to provide some protection from sun and wind.

a gravel base will keep the ground under the house from becoming to wet, thus preventing rot in the wooden houses, and mould in the plastic ones, especially if you put one directly on the ground.

some people like incorporating the doghouse into the colour scheme of the landscape by planting edible flowers such as pansies at the sides, and putting some colourful towels inside for bedding.

exotic doghouses come in both wood and plastic, designed to look like everything from spaceships to Victorian houses. If you are building your own, let your imagination be your guide. Your Westie has no preference as long as the house is cool and dry in the summer, and out of the wind in the fall.

a last word on safety: have no exposed insulation, and be certain all surfaces exposed to the dog are safe for chewing.


Author: Anne Matheson