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Deciding on a Doghouse

If your dog spends much time outside — while you're at work, perhaps — he needs shelter from heat and cold. One of the easiest ways to provide this is by getting a doghouse. You only have two choices here: wood or high-impact plastic.

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No matter the material you choose, a doghouse should fit your pet snugly — he should be able to stand up and turn around, but not much more. Providing your dog with a house that's too large makes staying warm inside of it difficult for him. It should have an entrance that's off-center so that the dog can curl up in one end for warmth. A removable roof is helpful for easy cleaning, and the doorway should have a flap over it to keep drafts out.

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Building a doghouse is an easy weekend project for anyone with basic carpentry skills; plans can be found at libraries or building-supply stores. What a great project for the kids to help with! You can also buy wooden doghouses, including some that are extremely fancy and designed to match your home's architecture — Cape Cod, Georgian, ranch, and so on.

Several manufacturers offer doghouses of molded, high-impact plastic that are in some ways superior to traditional wooden ones. They clean easily, do not retain smells, and offer no place for fleas to breed — as long as the bedding is kept fresh.

Where you place the doghouse has a lot to do with how comfortable your dog is when in it. In winter, it should be in a spot that's protected from the wind. And in summer, it should be in the shade.

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