Skip to main content

Now is the time to think about winterizing your dog house

This is a heads-up for all of you who have dogs that live outside during the winter.

Remember how you hate hanging Christmas lights when it’s freezing cold outside? You’re not going to be happy winterizing your dog house in those temperatures, either. In other words, you’ll be doing yourself a big favor if you set aside a few hours for this activity now — while the weather is warm.

If your pup was bred to work and live outside, chances are you’ve already provided the appropriate accommodations to keep him safe and healthy in every season. As the temperatures get ready to change again, follow these easy steps to make sure your dog house is ready for winter.

golden retriever in dog house with snow
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Take a close look

The first step begins with a visual inspection. Take a close look at how the structure is weathering. Most dog houses will last for several years, but their durability depends upon the climate they’re in as well as how exposed they are to the elements. Even the effects of one harsh season can damage the integrity of the structure.

Look for obvious signs of cracks in the walls, floor, and roof. Use silicone caulk to seal any separation that has developed and test the stability of the structure itself. Make sure it can withstand the harshest winter wind and heaviest snowfall your climate might deliver.

Add a doggie door

An open door on the doghouse during the summer works great for ventilation, but you’ll want to add a covering to help keep in the heat when the weather turns cold. To make it easy, measure the opening, then purchase a rubberized bath mat with slightly larger dimensions. Cut it to size and secure it to the dog house appropriately.

A piece of carpet or heavy rug works well, too, although remember: Fabric can become heavy and saturated when subjected to the rain, ice, and snow.

Find an ideal location

Although some dogs have thicker coats that tolerate wind chill better than others, all dogs feel a bitterly cold wind. So, consider moving your dog house to a more protected part of the yard. If you know which direction the wind commonly blows in your climate, position the dog house so that the entrance faces away from the blast. If possible, move the doghouse beneath an overhang on your home with its door facing an exterior wall to take advantage of the additional protection.

labrador retriever wearing winter hat
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Insulate inside and out


Once you’ve sealed all the cracks and crevices, you can further reduce the wind’s effects by wrapping the entire house in a waterproof tarp or plastic sheeting. Secure the wrap to prevent moisture from accumulating and causing mold or rotting the wood. Remove it next season when the temperatures rise.

Raise the dog house off the ground by placing a wooden pallet beneath it. This puts an extra barrier between the cold ground and your dog’s body. Choose a pallet the same size or slightly larger than your doghouse. Place rigid foam sheeting between the doghouse and pallet for extra protection.


Natural materials such as cedar chips or straw make a cozy substrate for your dog to lie on. These materials will act as an insulated barrier between your dog and the doghouse floor. They are also good at retaining your dog’s body heat and are easy to replenish as they become soiled. For additional warmth, consider throwing in a few thermal blankets or rugs to make it extra cozy for your dog.

Additionally, you can attach carpeting, old blankets, or rugs to the walls to help retain heat, especially if your dog house is made of a non-insulated material like plastic.

Know when to bring him inside

Even if your dog is accustomed to being outside all winter, it’s always a good idea to bring him inside when the weather becomes severe. Experts agree that all pets should be brought inside if the temperature dips below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Even if it doesn’t get quite that cold, make sure to monitor your pet for signs of distress all winter long. Whining, shivering, anxious behavior, and burrowing are all signs that your pup is dangerously cold. Older pets, as well as those with health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, or arthritis, can have problems regulating their body temperature and might be more comfortable inside.

Plus, remember that our dogs are pack animals. Thanks to domestication, they look to their favorite human as pack leader. As a result, no matter how cozy the outside kennel might be, nothing compares to cuddling up with their human family in front of a roaring fireplace on a cold winter’s night.

Editors' Recommendations

Debbie Clason
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Debbie Clason's work has appeared in Family Life Magazine, Sports Illustrated, The Lutheran Witness, Massage Magazine…
The best oversized dog beds your pup will love
One of these dog beds will help your puppers have a good night's sleep
Dog in bed with white blanket over his head

If you’ve ever come home from work and caught your pup snoozing on your bed, you know. Dogs like a soft place to lie down every bit as much as we do. And why not? They spend as much as 18 hours a day sleeping.

Big dogs, in particular, can develop health-related problems, such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, and joint pain, as they age. Not only does the right bed provide comfort and support, but it also enhances good sleep, which is equally important for their cognitive health. The right bed is also one that gives your pooch plenty of room to stretch out comfortably.
Our top recommendations
So, how big should a dog bed be? Take a look at these oversized dog beds for your favorite pup.
FurHaven Orthopedic Luxe Lounger

Read more
Does your dog drink a lot of water? Here’s when you should be concerned
It's usually just the weather, but you should look for signs of dehydration or excess thirst
A pug drinking water from a sink faucet

Ensuring your furry best friend gets plenty of water is one of the most important parts of being a pet parent. But how much water should your dog drink on a daily basis? Veterinarians claim the general rule of thumb is a simple equation: The majority of dogs require around 1/2 to 1 ounce (about 1/8 of a cup) of water per pound of body weight each day. Don't want to reach for your measuring cup? Make sure your pup has round-the-clock access to clean water, and everything should be fine.

That being said, if your dog empties their water bowl several times a day, or you notice their intake has increased drastically, you should probably keep a close eye on things. If your dog drinks a lot of water, you may be wondering, "Why is my dog always thirsty?" We'll share how to monitor your pup's water intake, the most common reasons your dog may be thirsty, and when you should speak with your vet.

Read more
Are Himalayan dog chews safe for your pet? Know this before you buy
These dogs treats are still trendy but should probably be eaten in moderation
A close-up shot of a pug standing in the grass with a bone-shaped treat in his mouth

What do blueberries, kale, and broccoli all have in common? In addition to being delicious, all three are part of the group of so-called superfoods. Unfortunately, there's no federally regulated definition for the term, but Harvard scientists claim food that "offers high levels of desirable nutrients, is linked to the prevention of a disease, or is believed to offer several simultaneous health benefits beyond its nutritional value" can be labeled superfoods. 

Just like you might add chia seeds to your granola or spirulina powder to your smoothies for additional vitamins and minerals, you also want to make sure your dog's food and treats pack a beneficial wallop. Made famous on Shark Tank, Himalayan dog chews have become one of the most hotly debated treats in the pet food game, which begs the question, "Are Himalayan dog chews as healthy as some people think?"

Read more