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  • Writer's pictureKarley

DIY Guide: Building an Outdoor Dog Bed or House for a Shade-less Backyard


Creating a comfortable, shaded outdoor space is essential for small breed dog owners, especially in backyards without natural shade. Personally, I like to tan in my backyard, but I do not have an awning attached to my house for my dogs to be able to shade themselves under. My dogs are always following me around the house, regardless of if I am working, doing chores, or hanging out in my backyard. They are always around, and so I have wondered what solution I can find to enable my dogs to join me outside, even if it is during warmer, sunnier seasons, like the summer. One solution could be building a dog bed with an awning that they can hang out in while we sunbathe. If you have the same problem, let's go through this step-by-step guide for building an outdoor dog bed or house.

Understanding Your Small Dog's Needs

Small breeds have unique needs in terms of space and comfort. They often prefer snug, secure areas where they feel safe. But, you should consider the weather in your area; in hot climates, ensure the bed or house is well-ventilated, while in colder regions, think about insulation to keep your furry friend warm.

Choosing the Right Location

For small breeds, a location that is not too exposed yet within your view is ideal. A spot that gets morning sun but is shaded during the hotter parts of the day would be perfect. Ensure the location is away from any hazards or high-traffic areas in your garden. If you find yourself often walking in certain areas of your yard, like in the case of getting to the side gate or getting to the side door to your garage, don't consider those spots. Remember, this is where they will be hanging out, so a quiet, comfortable area is ideal.

Materials and Tools Needed

For a Raised Dog Bed with Canopy:

Wood: Select weather-resistant wood like cedar or redwood, which are durable and naturally resist rot. You’ll need:

  • Four posts for the corners (length depending on desired height).

  • Planks for the bed base and canopy frame.

  • Thin slats or a piece of plywood for the canopy top.

Screws and Nails: Use stainless steel or galvanized screws and nails to prevent rusting.

Drill and Drill Bits: For making pilot holes for the screws.

Saw: A hand saw or electric saw for cutting the wood to size.

Sandpaper or a Sanding Block: To smooth any rough edges on the wood.

Paint or Wood Sealant: Choose a non-toxic, waterproof sealant or paint to protect the wood and make it last longer.

Outdoor Fabric: Durable, weather-resistant fabric for the canopy. Look for UV-resistant materials if your area gets a lot of suns.

Staple Gun: For attaching the fabric to the wood frame.

Comfortable Bedding: A cushion or pad that fits the bed frame, preferably made from outdoor-friendly material.

For a Dog House:

Wood: Weather-resistant wood is again recommended. You'll need:

  • Panels for the walls.

  • Planks for the floor and roof.

  • Optional: thin insulation panels for warmth.

Screws and Nails: As above, opt for stainless steel or galvanized varieties.

Drill and Drill Bits/Saw: For assembly and cutting.

Sandpaper or a Sanding Block: To smooth the wood.

Roofing Material: Asphalt shingles or a waterproof membrane to keep the inside dry.

Paint or Wood Sealant: Non-toxic and weatherproof.

Insulation: Foam boards or reflective insulation, especially if you live in a colder climate.

Bedding: Soft, comfortable, and ideally washable bedding for inside the house.

General Supplies:

  • Measuring Tape: For accurate measurements.

  • Level: To ensure the bed or house is even and stable.

  • Safety Gear: Safety glasses and gloves for protection during construction.

These materials can generally be found at your local hardware store or home improvement center. It's a good idea to take a list with you and ask a store associate if you need help locating any of these items.

Designing the Dog Bed or House

For small breeds like Pomeranians, a raised dog bed with a canopy or a small, insulated dog house works well. The design should be compact yet comfortable, allowing enough room for your dog to move around, stand, and stretch.

Step-by-Step Building Instructions

  1. Preparing the Base: Create a sturdy base that is raised off the ground to avoid dampness.

  2. Constructing the Frame: The frame should be strong but not too bulky. For a dog house, ensure there's enough room for your dog to turn around comfortably.

  3. Adding the Roof and Walls (for a dog house): A slanted roof is ideal to prevent water accumulation. If building a canopy for a bed, ensure it provides enough shade.

  4. Insulating and Waterproofing: This is crucial for colder climates. Use safe, non-toxic materials for both insulation and waterproofing.

  5. Finishing Touches: Paint with non-toxic paint, add comfortable bedding, and personalize the space for your dog.

Safety Considerations

It's essential to ensure all materials used are non-toxic and safe for small breeds, especially those prone to chewing. Make sure there are no sharp edges or loose nails.

Maintenance Tips

Regular cleaning is important to maintain hygiene. Check periodically for any damage or wear, especially after extreme weather conditions.

Additional Resources

While specific building plans will depend on your design choices, websites like Instructables or Pinterest offer a wealth of DIY ideas and blueprints. For non-DIY options, pet stores often have a range of outdoor beds and houses suitable for small breeds.


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