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Picture of Hot Dog House UPDATED! - Keeping Your Fuzzy Friend Cool All Summer Long
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In this Instructables, I will show you how to turn an old dog house and a second-hand cooler into an effective and affordable way to help keep your fuzzy buddies cool this summer.

I live in Idaho where temperatures over 100F are common in the summer, and while we keep the AC on in the house, it's important to have a cool place for the dogs to retreat to when we're all outside enjoying the sunshine. Especially when it comes to our puppy, Fat Panda (in the second photo she's the chubby black and white one on the left. The one on the right is named Lucifur (the Lord of Barkness) and she likes it warm).

We're not sure what kind of dog Fat Panda is. She's definitely got some Chihuahua in her, but there's something else mixed in there that was kind enough to pass along a dense, thick double coat. On top of that, she's got thyroid issues that make losing weight almost impossible for her, giving her an extra layer of blubber that no amount of exercise can get rid of. That means no matter what time of the year it is, she's hot...and in the summer, it can be dangerous for her to be outside too long.

Now, as I said, she's still a puppy and she has lots of puppy energy and a strong desire to play and be wherever we are. Locking her up inside to stay cool isn't fair to her but letting her run around outside when it's over 100F could potentially be deadly...which is why I figured the easiest way to keep everyone happy would be to figure out a way to bring the cool air inside to the outside.

Thus the Hot Dog House was born.

Making the Hot Dog House was surprisingly affordable and took less than 6 hours from start to finish. With a little footwork ahead of time and a good solid afternoon of DIY magic, you can make your own Hot Dog house for a little over $100 from start to finish in a single weekend!

To do so you're going to need some supplies:

Step 1: Source Your Key Pieces

  • 1 dog house (Picked up used from Facebook Marketplace for $25)
  • 1 cooler (38-quart version with wheels and a handle - picked up used from Craigslist for $15)
  • 1 flexible silver dryer duct hose (I grabbed an 8" long one for $11)
  • Waterproof foam insulation board (I went through about 1/2 of a 4" X 8" sheet for $9)
  • 2 two-part dryer duct to wall connectors the same diameter as your dryer duct hose (2 @ $7.50 each for a total of $15)
  • Duct joint tape (1 roll for $12)
  • Vinyl dog door "curtain" (Amazon.com for $10)
  • Caulk
  • Small personal fan or ventilation fan ($21 on Amazon.com)
  • Lamp cord with flip switch ($7 on Amazon.com)
  • Caster wheels ($10 at local hardware store)
  • Zip ties
  • Snips

You'll also need some stuff you can probably get from free/recycle:

  • Large empty 2-liter plastic soda bottles/juice bottles/milk jugs - Free*
  • Liquid bleach - Free*
  • Water - Free*

You'll also need some tools.

  • Dremel with cutting wheel, grinding/sanding barrel attachment and a drill bit equal to the screws for your fan
  • Screwdriver
  • Keyhole saw
  • Measuring tape
  • Exacto knife or sharp box cutter
  • Ruler or straight edge
  • Tape
  • Pencil

Total cost: $135!

While the basic costs of the supplies you pick up from the hardware store should remain pretty consistent, the biggest factors in how much this project will cost you will ultimately come down to how much you are willing to spend on your dog house and cooler. If you have them on hand already, well, then you're ahead of the game. If not, keep an eye out online for great deals. Good places to check are Craigslist, Facebook Marketplaces, and NextDoor as well as your local classified ads.

*can also substitute all these with block or cubed ice

MattH18419 days ago
Installing the fan in the lid would help with the worry of melting ice. Also, drape membrane over the door opening to help hold the cool air in & also use a secondary hose as a return as suggested above, if so inclined you could move all of the openings to the side of the cooler, hard pipe it with PVC and insulate the pipe - this should keep everything as cool as possible and make the ice last longer. Swamp coolers would work well, however, you would also need to run a sump pump to constantly circulate the water over the intake, plus you would have to fill the reservoir due to evaporation (this could impact the pump if it requires water flow to keep functioning). Overall, cool build - I modified a dog house with a partition, a cheep light fixture, 100W light bulb and 25' drop cord for heat for the cats outside, they love this! I plan on putting a thermostat with Arduino to turn it off when it doesn't need to be on.
Tye Rannosaurus (author)  MattH18418 days ago
We just installed a vinyl dog door on the house and it's improved the ability to retain the cool air by a huge amount! Do you have any photos of the build you did? I'd love to see. :)
I'll take some tonight, if I can remember, it's very simple, however, my cat house opens from top, makes it real easy to install the partition and light fixture also to clean, repair, etc... we store the food inside a bucket inside the cat house in the un-conditioned space & feed them in their "bedroom".
I didn't realize that I didn't show the 4" diameter hole in the partition for the cats to get into their "bedroom". the hole is high and to the back. Insulation would help, but the cats would demolish it, but the 75W incandescent bulb provides plenty of heat. The globe is important, it prevents the cats from touching such a hot surface and also keeps them from breaking the bulb and allowing them to touch naked filament parts (would be a shocking experience & maybe get them a little hotter than planned).
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misterxp19 days ago
Fantastic! Lucky dog!
Tye Rannosaurus (author)  misterxp18 days ago
Very spoiled and loved! :)
You should run 2 lines in recirculate the air not keep using the outside air. You'd get much better efficiency
That's a great idea! And could easily be done.
tomwall196919 days ago
Someone else already mentioned a swamp cooler. I know I would get tired of buying ice. An evaporative cooler won't get as cool as ice, but it would still be better than no air conditioning.
Tye Rannosaurus (author)  tomwall196919 days ago
I agree buying the ice would get tedious so we are actually using repurposed juice jugs and freezing them in our deep freezer. We have 8 and rotate them every other day at 4 a day, so we always have frost cool ac for the doggos.
Cool... literally and figuratively!
PatP4719 days ago
Love the idea!
How about insulating the dryer hose with a piece of water heater blanket (or something similar), to keep the air from losing its chill while traveling from the ice chest to the dog house? It can be wrapped around the dryer hose and secured with zip ties and duct tape.
Have you experienced any condensation buildup in the dryer hose so far? This might help alleviate the problem.
Let me know if you try it and it helps any!
Many thanks for your instructable!!!
Pat
Tye Rannosaurus (author)  PatP4719 days ago
No condensation yet but that's a good trick to give a try when it gets REALLY hot (we're a mild 90F now...we will hit 110F come July/August and this is a great idea to keep in mind for then!)
DirceuB19 days ago
Show!
GregS27819 days ago
I see how the dog was named panda! Just wondering if you thought of return air from the house to the cooler? And for camping maybe dry ice! Nice of you to worry about the dog!
Tye Rannosaurus (author)  GregS27819 days ago
Return hose is a great idea. Dry Ice, while much cooler, is actually incredibly dangerous, especially as I've put a dog door into the house to keep the cool air in the space. From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide and has a freezing point of minus 109 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 78 degrees Celsius). As dry ice melts, it undergoes a process called sublimation, in which the solid is converted directly into a gas. If dry ice is stored in an area without proper ventilation, it may cause whoever (or whatever) is in the space to inhale large amounts of the gas CO2, which displaces oxygen in the body. This, in turn, can lead to harmful effects, including headache, confusion, disorientation and potentially, death.
jpmarth19 days ago
I’ll bet the pups sure do enjoy this! Did you consider using a solar powered attic fan? Would allow you to have it outside without any worry of the elements damaging it. Perhaps a future upgrade. ;-)
Tye Rannosaurus (author)  jpmarth19 days ago
Definitely something I've been considering and something that I would like to potentially upgrade to down the road but for now, the whole unit is right next to a power outlet and draws so little power that I'm dragging my feet because I'm lazy. :)
He mentioned it when discussing fans.
Rafe Zetter19 days ago
Brilliant - THIS 'ible was exactly what the Instructables website was made for - good solutions that can be made by ordinary "hobby" type people - not professional makers with $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ worth of kit and financially backed by large corporations using the "makers" as free advertising.

Clear instructions, a little bit of humour and also covers the options in design.... and cute doggies too! What's not to like?
Dimsml20 days ago
You might want to check out how swamp coolers work and make one for your pups instead of that ice tub. You can even automate it if you scavenge some parts from a toilet cistern.
When it comes to building structures, I definitely endorse stilts or raising up any platforms. You never know what kind of dry rot and mildew and mould can grow on the undersides of your little shed. Always best to create a good form of airflow that way I reckon!
Agreed! And the last thing I want is my dogs to be hanging out in a moldy structure. :)
Very impressive build!

I also really like that floaty thing you have for your pool :)
The Magic Mushroom is overwhelmingly popular with the tiny dogs. We have several large birds of prey that live near us that would love to scoop up our pups and spirit them away so things with a cover over them are an absolute must...and the Magic Mushroom is both covered and a ridiculously stylish way for them to cruise the pool. They love it!
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