Dog crates can be expensive and/or ugly. Build your own DIY dog kennel to suit your decor and size/breed of dog.
As you know, we adopted a puppy in April – Bentley, the most gorgeous puppy in the universe!
Granted a proud Mama, but he is spectacularly adorable.
The only thing with Bentley is that he is growing – A LOT. At 5 months old he is already 45lbs (20kg) and seems to be on-track to be about 100lbs (45kg) as an adult.
No problems here, our last Old English Sheepdog was about 130lbs, so we love big dogs. The problem is that he is still losing his puppy teeth and he eats EVERYTHING. Shoes, cat toys, laundry, cat scratching post, his dog bed… there isn’t much that I haven’t pried out of his mouth over the past few months.
Because of this, we have kept him crated at night and when we aren’t around to supervise his “munchies”.
I bought the largest crate that the pet store had to offer when we first brought him home. At the moment he can still stand and turn around in it, but not much else, so I was feeling guilty keeping him cooped up in it.
I decided to make my own super-sized dog crate so that when he does have to go inside to rest, he can at least roll over and move around.
I created my own building plans for a DIY dog crate for large breed dogs – and while I only use it for Bentley – it would easily fit two Goldens, labs, huskies, or other large breeds.
The open baskets on this console table are too much for Bentley. He is forever pulling things off and chewing on wires, so this is the area I decided to build my DIY dog crate for.
By building the DIY dog kennel long enough to protect the back of my sofa, I can keep toys from rolling underneath, doggie dirt and teeth from destroying the upholstery AND keep Bentley close to the family if we’re up late watching TV.
I also planned to make my DIY dog crate without a bottom to it, so having it on the ceramic kitchen floor is perfect! He loves the cool tiles and tends to sleep in the kitchen even when not crated, and I’ll be able to slide the kennel out of the way to wash the floor when needed.
DIY Dog Crate / DIY Dog Kennel
The measurements for Bentley’s crate were based on
- deep enough to hold a crib mattress. Still the best and cheapest (dogs loved used crib mattresses because they smell like babies and milk) dog bed you can get
long enough to protect the back of my sofa and side table and
tall enough for Bentley to stand in at full-size, but not necessarily be able to reach items on the top.
As you can see, it’s huge!
Bentley actually likes his crate; the breeder started crating him before we got him and he’ll snuggle in there without me having to drag him – so this will be a long-term furnishing.
One side of the crate base is taller than the other. This is intentional so that the crib mattress will tuck neatly inside and the sides of it won’t be visible.
The building plans are fairly self-explanatory except to say that all of the wood for the sides of the DIY dog crate are 1″ (2.5cm) thick. This is a bit tedious, but necessary because the bars for the DIY dog kennel are ¾” in diameter.
You can buy select grade wood at 1″ thicknesses, or do what I did and rip it down/ plane it down to thickness.
Because I was working with 2×4’s, it meant a fair amount of planing:
Ripping the wood down on a table saw would have been faster, but I was using bits of crappy wood that I had stored in the garage and I wanted both sides of it to be smooth and clean.
Don’t worry, the shavings can be used in gardens, to make fire starters, or can be sent to a compost depot to decompose.
I’ll give you a little tip on how to install the bars for your DIY dog crate; draw a line down the centre length of your boards. Line the top and bottom of each section side by side and then measure out your spacing and mark BOTH boards at the same time. This will ensure that the spacing of your bars is perfectly aligned between top and bottom.
The spacing of your bars is going to depend on the size of your dog; for Bentley, I was able to space them approximately 4 ½” apart without any worry that he would get his head stuck or be able to sneak out. He’s 5 months old now, so if you are building this DIY dog kennel for a younger puppy, you might want your spacing closer together.
I used a drill press and a ¾” spade bit to drill each hole. You can certainly use a hand drill, but be careful with how much pressure you put on your drill or you could wrench your wrist if the bit grips.
I drilled my holes roughly ½” down into each board, but to be sure I wasn’t caught short, I didn’t cut the kennel bars (aluminum so they can be cut on a mitre saw) until I had the parts dry fit together.
This is one side of my DIY dog kennel – with the 6″ base to hide the crib mattress.
And this is the other side where I went with a 2″ base to match the sides and top sections.
All of the parts are held together with wood glue (non-toxic) and 1 ½” pocket screws on the back.
Once all of your parts are ready, you’ll probably want to put it together inside the house.
I used some pre-primed bead board as a backer for my DIY dog crate – mainly because I had a piece in the garage – but what I didn’t think about was how flexible it was…
To compensate, I ended up reinforcing the back of the beadboard/crate with ¾” plywood.
I dropped the crib mattress inside the frame and then added a ¾” plywood top. (I had pre-drilled pocket holes in the front and sides so that I could drill up into the top from inside the crate.
And yes, I (5’7″, 197lbs) fit inside the crate easily.
I added some edge banding to the plywood top and then sanded everything smooth with 120, 150, then 220 grit sandpaper and a random orbit sander.
If I was smart, I would have sanded the sections earlier BEFORE installing the bars. 🤦🏻♀️. Do as I say, not as I do.
I built the DIY dog crate gate last to make sure that I had ¼” spacing all around.
A coat of stain and two coats of clear poly and my DIY dog kennel is done!
I might leave the crib mattress out for the summer since Bentley loves the cool floor so much. Alternatively, I could put a small piece of carpet in there to keep the tiles soft, but not trap the heat as much as the mattress does.
Pulling the mattress out is as easy as tilting the crate and sliding it out from underneath for easy cleaning.
I love that the door folds back in on itself so it isn’t in the way when the kennel is open.
What does Bentley think of his new bed?
He walked in for the photo without me even having to ask! No bribery whatsoever!
He can sit on the 6″ mattress and still have lots of headroom. He can walk, turn around, sprawl out with lots of room to spare.
My couch is protected, wires are safely tucked away in behind and no more toys will roll under the sofa.
This morning I found him on the floor section using the mattress as his pillow. 😂
On top of his crate I have a few jars of his treats out, but that he can’t actually reach.
If this is a bit large for your space, or you aren’t up for the build, and are wondering;
“What can I use instead of a dog crate?”
A crib will work. Playpen, baby gates, or an exercise pen are also great options. Just make sure that there is LOTS of air circulating through.
Where should you place your dog crate?
Make sure your DIY dog crate isn’t placed in a drafty area. You’ll want to avoid direct sunshine, heating vents, radiators and anything else that will make the space too hot or too cold. We keep our crate in our kitchen, which is open-concept to our family room – so the centre of the house.
At what age do dogs stop sleeping in a crate?
Most dogs will use their crate long after the puppy phase is over. Having a crate gives your dog a bedroom that he/she can go into for sleep and solitude and quite often it is a place of comfort for them. You can keep your DIY dog crate forever, and just stop latching the door once the dog gets past the peeing/chewing stages and can be trusted not to damage property or themselves when alone. (I’ve read this is around 2 years of age)
Is it cruel to crate a dog?
Not if you use it as a source of comfort and protection for your dog and as long as the majority of the time they are not locked up. Crate training actually gives dogs a sense of security and comfort in a “den”. Having written that, your DIY dog kennel should NOT be used as punishment or to keep your pet for extended periods of time. Bentley is only crated at night or if we have to leave the house and can’t supervise his activities – a few hours at most. Make sure your pet has had the opportunity to pee/poo before crating them, and listen to their cues if they need outside. Bentley likes to pee again at 5am, so he lets me know with a quiet bark to get my ass out of bed.
If you make your own DIY dog crate PLEASE send photos! I’d love to see how happy your fur-babies are in their new bedroom!
Have a great one!