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Should I house my dog in a dog kennel?

The question that causes many debates among those with working dogs, pet owners and breeders alike; should I house my dog(s) in an outdoor kennel?

It mainly comes down to preference.  Your average Joe will shudder at the thought of locking away his precious family pet outside in what can be perceived to be a ‘prison’.  But where working dogs are concerned, kennels can be a godsend  Imagine bringing back your football-team-sized pack from a day out on the field, covered in mud and having an increasingly potent wet dog smell.  The last thing you want is for them to rush into your carpeted home and shake the mess out of your kitchen cabinets or hallway walls.  Leave the mud outside and take them straight from your Landy boot (or similar) to their dog kennel and run.  Dogs love to have their own space; and after a busy day chasing pheasants (or their own tail) and springing around in the brambled undergrowth, they will be quite content at curling up inside their own sheltered dog kennel where they can dry, clean themselves up and dream about their day’s adventures in peace.

We have supplied dog kennels and runs to a number of customers who are prominent names in the working dog industry, and many of those will say that keeping a working dog indoors can affect their performance when out on a shoot.  I am not a dog handler, trainer or dog expert in any shape or form so please feel free to do your own research on this (and also let me know what you find!) but it is an opinion that we do hear regularly.

So, once you have decided to house your dog in a kennel, you now need to choose what type.  Dog kennels are made from a huge variety of materials, from ThermoBoard to metal cages to wood.  As we are a manufacturer of timber dog kennels, I am going to give you a few pointers on why you should buy a wooden dog kennel.

Reason number 1. 
Timber will never go out of fashion.  Yes, other materials will pop up into the market and rave about their wipe-clean abilities and thermal properties, but you can add these features to timber kennels.  Timber is a natural material and will change over time to a pretty and natural silvery-grey colour.  You can also paint them in whatever colour or theme you fancy.  Thermal kennels, on the other hand, are prone to scratches, and a once pristine white Thermal kennel will fade to an odd shade in direct sunlight.

Reason number 2.
Timber is versatile.  It can be cut and shaped easily meaning you can make almost anything out of it!  You can build pent kennels, apex kennels, big kennels, small kennels with doors, kennels with side sheds… the list goes on.  Timber is a highly popular building material that has been used for centuries and continues to be a favourite for many manufacturing companies.

Reason number 3.
  Price:  Timber is an easy material to produce, is cheaper to transport and because it is so popular is readily available.  Other building materials that are used to make dog kennels can have an extensive manufacturing process which bumps up the cost.  And the costs are always passed down to the consumer.

Reason number 4.
  The environment.  Most companies that use timber for outdoor structures will have it tanalised, which isn’t so good for the planet.  But even with that in mind, wood is a renewable resource that is durable and strong, and the tanalising treatment only extends the life of timber.  With TLC, a well-built timber structure can stand for many years without needing a replacement.  Shy away from a false economy and reduce your carbon footprint.

Selecting a kennel-style and features can be tricky, but again it can mostly come down to preference.  A small back garden may be dwarfed by a large triple kennel with a high apex roof, so maybe opt for a lower height pent kennel which can sit below garden fencing.  If you have dogs and bitches that need separating at certain times of the year, then look at getting a double dog kennel and run.  Some kennels have solid divides, some have bar panel divides and others mesh.  This will depend on how your dogs are with each other and whether they can be aggressive.

When looking at kennel manufacturers, try to do a comparison of a few different companies with varying prices.  Can you spot why some cost more than others?  We use tongue and groove clad for our entire kennel structure, however other companies use chipboard for the roof and floors.  Also, look out for joins in the timber, clad fixed facing different ways and how the roof size compares with the kennel itself.  These factors won’t necessarily impair the functionality of the kennel, but they can affect the overall look of the finished build.  And when you are paying good money for a product, you want it to look right.  These small factors are used by other companies to reduce waste and save them time and money.  Again, these savings aren’t always passed down to the customer, so make sure you know what you are buying.

As a general rule, most timber buildings will have a felt roof.  Ask what type of felt is used, check the weight and thickness of the felt and also what material it is made from.  A cheap roll of felt similar to what a DIY store would sell is not going to last as long as heavy duty felt.  It comes down to a false economy again, and in the long run, you will end up spending more money and time replacing cheaper materials that at first can seem quite lucrative.

Now to talk about kennel upgrades.  We offer premium kennel upgrades on our entire range of dog kennels and runs, and they can be very effective at providing warmth and comfort for your dogs.  However, they can be costly and we only ever advise them if you really need them.  For instance, PVC lined insulation can be brilliant for a dog that is kept in a kennel overnight or during all weathers.  But for an occasional kennel that will only be used for a few hours during the day, it will be a waste of money.  A wipe clean floor in the kennel area is always a popular choice as it helps with maintenance and makes cleaning easier for you.  There are corrugated roofing upgrades which have a longer life expectancy than felt, but they can be expensive.  If you live in the middle of nowhere with your kennel being exposed to the elements (Scotland, for example) then we would recommend it.  A back garden with housing to shelter your kennel would be perfectly fine with a felt roof.  You’d be better off putting the money towards some sliding hatches or raised sleeping benches. 

Sleeping benches are a brilliant idea – they give your dog somewhere to lie down in the run that is lifted off the cold/damp floor.  Ours is made from phenolic coated plywood which has a wipe clean surface, along with anti-chew strips.  Aluminium anti-chew strips are mainly added around the pop hole of the kennel to prevent your dog from chomping at the exposed wood, which can be dangerous for your dog and also makes an unsightly mess.  The kennels will probably have exposed timber framework on the inside of the sleeping area, so if you do have a prone chewer it might be wise to look at adding the insulation.  The PVC lines the inside and covers any exposed wood, meaning your dog can’t get its mouth round anything to chew on.

However if you intend to house your dog, we always advise you to research your options and get as much info as possible before you commit.  A well-made dog kennel will last for years and you want to make sure it is right for you and your dogs!

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