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…
Is a puppy playpen better than a crate? Here’s what to consider before you buy one for your dog
Stuck between a puppy playpen or a crate for your dog? This guide will help
A beige Akita puppy stands on their back legs inside a pink wire playpen

Keeping your fur baby out of trouble around the house can be trickier than you might think. Tiny dogs can make big messes. Crates and playpens are just two ways pet parents keep their puppies safe and teach them where to sleep, play, and use the restroom; but these two helpful tools actually have quite different purposes. At first glance, however, crates look awfully small and more enclosed compared with pens. This may leave many pet owners wondering: Is a puppy playpen better than a crate?

Spoiler alert: Nope. While a plastic dog playpen leaves room for pups to run around and play, a canine-specific crate certainly has its time and place. However, what’s the difference between a crate and a playpen for your puppy?

Read more
5 easy-to-make DIY dog treats that you can make for your pup this fall
Fall-inspired DIY dog treats you can whip up
A marble countertop with miniature pumpkins and fall-themed dog treats

There are so many festive fall foods, but finding the perfect homemade dog treat recipe for your autumn gathering can be trickier than you think. Luckily, many of this season’s freshest crops and ingredients are healthy, nutritious autumn additions to your dog’s diet. Pumpkin, apple, even cinnamon … these flavors practically scream "fall."
Even if you don’t have any big plans, baking up some cute and healthy homemade dog treats is a great way to bond with your dog when the weather gets cozy. Food-motivated pups will especially appreciate these DIY dog treats, and you’ll love the sweet, cozy vibes you’ll get from cooking for your fur baby. It’s the perfect night in!

How to prepare pumpkin spice for dogs -- because even dogs should get a taste of this autumn delicacy
While you're sipping on a pumpkin spice latte, there's no reason your furry friend should miss out. Luckily, there's a dog-safe recipe for pumpkin spice that you can make from home.
However you want to prepare these autumnal ingredients, you should know a few things about pumpkin spice for dogs. Pumpkin on its own is full of nutrients, such as vitamins and iron; plus, its high fiber content can regulate finicky digestive systems (via American Kennel Club). Just ensure your dog doesn’t get added sugars with her pumpkin, as this isn’t good for her.
When preparing your spice mix, remember to avoid nutmeg. This ingredient isn’t healthy for pups, and it can easily be substituted for a similar flavor. Instead, a mix of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, clove, and a dash of vanilla extract will do. Use these ingredients to spice up nearly any biscuit, yogurt, or pumpkin-flavored dog treat--for you or your pup!

Read more
The Best Dog Sweaters to Keep Your Furry Friend Warm
dog wearing sweater

In the chilly winds of winter, nothing says warmth and care for your furry friend quite like a top-rated dog sweater in 2023. It's more than just a cute accessory; it's a testament to your love for your pet and commitment to their comfort. Just as we humans appreciate a cozy sweater on a cold day, our four-legged companions do too.

But the world of dog sweaters isn't just about warmth, it's about meeting diverse needs with style and substance. Whether your pet is petite or gigantic, shorthaired or long, active, or more of a couch potato, there's a perfect sweater out there that's just the right fit for them. Explore this guide and discover how they not only protect against the elements but also cater to unique needs, all while adding a dash of fashion to your dog's winter wardrobe.

Read more