Call it a canine cottage or a hound hang-out, a doghouse could be an ideal amenity for a dog in Chicago. But instead of purchasing a pre-assembled doghouse, consider building your own using a mix of new and salvaged materials, all while staying under budget. The following tips can help you build an all-weather home for your dog.

1) Location, location, location. Before you build your dog’s home-away-from-home, consider the layout of your backyard and where the winds travel. Have the door facing away from the bitter winter winds.

2) Make it a portable house. During the winter, the doghouse should be in direct sunlight; in the summer, it should be in a shaded area of your yard. If the doghouse is light and portable, simply move the home during the appropriate seasons to ensure your dog stays cool in the summer but warm in the winter.

3) How to keep cool. One concern for a doghouse is keeping your dog cool in the hot Chicago summer. Robert Blocks, assistant store manager of Zimmermann True Value Hardware in Buffalo Grove,recommended using a concrete floor in the doghouse. “Concrete can really hold the cool air and moisture from the ground during the summer, keeping the doghouse a bit cooler on the inside,” he said.

4) Get on the mat. A more fashionable accessory can be used to cool the doghouse, too. Bruce Haas, co-owner of pet boutique store Tails in the City, suggested using cooling pet mats on the floor of the doghouse. The mats, which resemble those used for yoga, are pressure-activated and work without refrigeration, water or electricity. According to Haas, the cooling effect lasts for up to four hours at a time.

5) Keep the house warm. Chicago also typically sees below-freezing temperatures and snow in the winter, so keeping the doghouse warm during that time is another challenge. Blocks recommended using a heat light bulb to keep the doghouse warm, as well as using insulation.

6) Get a door. To keep the doghouse somewhat climate-controlled, consider installing flap-style doors. The flaps allow easy access while preventing rain, snow and wind from entering. While plastic flaps are lighter and easier for a dog to use, a heavy scrap of carpet can also be used as an effective barrier from cold winds — just remove it in the summer so the doghouse doesn’t get too warm.

7) Make a slanted roof. Like a home for humans, you will want your dog’s house to have a slanted roof to keep rain and snow from accumulating on top.

8) Stay under budget. Many of the materials used to construct the doghouse can be found around your own home. Use scraps of plywood and leftover concrete from your last big project to construct your doghouse. If you are getting rid of existing carpeting in your home, save a scrap for your dog’s door.

The following local businesses may be able to help you get started.

Harry’s Lumber Co.
6220 N Northwest Highway
Chicago, IL 60631
(773) 631-6568

Located in Chicago’s Northwest side, Harry’s Lumber Co. offers a variety of products including lumber, mouldings and doors. Its lumber selection includes white pine, Douglas fir, poplar, redwood, oak, cherry and clear pine.

Tails in the City
1 E Delaware Place
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 649-0347

A luxury pet boutique, Tails in the City offers gourmet dog treats, pet beds, blankets and toys. Established in 2004, Tails in the City is located in Chicago’s Gold Coast.

Zimmermann True Value Hardware
745 S Buffalo Grove Road
Buffalo Grove, IL 60089
(847) 541-3010

Zimmermann True Value offers a variety of accessories and tools for building a doghouse, including power tools and concrete.

RelatedMaking Solar Power Work For Your Home in Chicago
Related: Dog Friendly Bars In Chicago

For more great tricks, tips and advice about your home, visit Home.

Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I’m a Trader Joe’s Fan. Her work can be found at

Watch & Listen LIVE