Why Do We Use Blue Barrels Instead of Expensive Dog Houses?
Welcome to Why? Wednesday!!
We are starting a new weekly column that will allow our fans, supporters, and even haters a chance to ask us WHY we do (or don’t do) certain things. If you have a question you’d like to ask us, please feel free to post in the comments, or message our page, and we’ll do our best to answer :O)
This week, we decided to explain why we prefer to use the blue plastic barrels for dog houses.
Of course, it goes without saying that the blue plastic barrels are by far the cheapest - as far as dog houses go. But that’s not the only reason we use them. Most commercial dog houses are made with people in mind - and aren’t really designed for dogs. There are several photos attached to this post - with a few different plastic commercial dog house designs. The wooden houses are sturdier, but are prone to rot, chewing, and are heavy as lead.
Notice on the commercial plastic dog houses that the front lip is very low. Any shavings or bedding that would be inside those would come out easily as the dog enters/exits the house. To be able to make these types of houses usable, we would need to install a board in the opening that would help keep the bedding in the dog house. Also note that the plastic used for these houses is very thin. The plastic on the blue barrels is much thicker; and even tho some dogs will still chew on it, they can’t chew it down to nothing (we’ve had some do that with the commercial houses over the years). And, of course, that leads to possible medical issues - pieces of plastic cutting their insides, etc.
A dog house should be big enough so that the dog can turn around in it and lie down completely stretched out inside. Bigger is not better. Dogs feel more secure in small spaces. Also, an oversized dog house is harder to keep warm during cold weather. The doorway has to be big enough for your dog to easily get in and out, but not so big that it results in excessive heat loss and over-exposure to the elements. Remember that, unlike people, dogs require smaller doors than what their total height is. They have no issues with having to duck to enter a house.
There are many ways you can create a dog house using a plastic barrel. You can find them in white or blue. We prefer the blue over the white because the white deteriorates faster; although it is still a better option than a commercial dog house. We are currently in the process of upgrading all of our dog houses to the following: The front opening on the barrel is cut completely out; a half moon plywood cut-out is then installed about 8” or so inside the barrel - which also creates a self-contained rain barrier. This method leaves plenty of room for the dog to climb up and over into a den-like setting; and keeps shavings inside the barrel - where it is needed. Other benefits of using a barrel include low maintenance; no painting; and no rotting wood.
Side note on winter weather and outdoor dogs: While we agree that the ideal situation during the winter is a nice, warm bed in the house, please keep in mind that drastic changes in temperature can sometimes do more harm than good. If you bring an outdoor pet indoors, keep it inside for longer than overnight. They get used to the indoor temp, and putting them back out first thing in the morning (the coldest part of the day) is subjecting them to a super drastic change in temperature. It's not healthy for them. They do acclimate to the cold (or heat), and drastic changes complicate things for them. Also - many think adding a heat lamp inside the dog house helps keep the dogs warm. If the dog house is big enough, and the lamp isn’t too hot - then it could possibly work short-term; however if the dog house is the correct size, then adding a heat lamp would actually be too hot and would force the dog to stay out if it - defeating the purpose.
The best options for outdoor animals is warm bedding, lots of water, a barrier from the cold, and providing extra feed during the winter months. Assuming, of course, that remaining indoors is not an option.
If a dog house lacks adequate ventilation, the air will become hot and stifling during the summer, creating an uncomfortable, and possibly dangerous environment for your pet. During the winter, poor ventilation may result in excessive moisture buildup from the dog's breathing. This moisture will condense on the interior surfaces creating a clammy environment and inviting bugs and mildew to take up residence. So, proper ventilation is essential. The doorway opening obviously provides a certain degree of ventilation but if a door flap is used, the ventilation will be restricted. This is one reason we do not use door flaps; the other being that the dogs would most likely find it a challenge to tear them off!
To keep the barrel from rolling, you can place a brick on the side(s); attach a steel or wooden plate to the front/back; or get extra creative and create a platform or frame to set the barrel in.
March 23, 2016