How To Keep Your Outside Dog Kennel Warm (Easy Steps for Beginners)

We all know that many breeds of dogs love the outdoors. Not only does it provide them with more space, but also more freedom and an ability to exercise on their own. It’s also easier on the owner who doesn’t have to worry as much about constantly walking the dog, and knows the dog is getting as much exercise as it needs. 

However, you hate to think about your man’s best friend getting chilly come wintertime. So How do you keep your outside dog kennel warm? Well, there are a number of effective strategies. Making sure your dog’s kennel is properly built and is weathertight and water-tight is most important. Other factors such as bedding and nutrition also play a role. 

So, how do you build a proper kennel for your dog? What else can you do to help make sure your dog stays warm in the winter? Read on to find out everything you need to know about keeping your outside dog kennel warm in the colder months. 

Weathertight shelter

The first and arguably the most important part of keeping your dog warm in an outdoor kennel is making it weathertight. A weathertight dog house will make sure that the cold doesn’t seep in and make it too cold for your pooch. 

In order to make a shelter weathertight, it needs to be insulated and air-tight. This will make sure the cold air is sealed out and the warmer air is sealed in. Also, make sure it’s raised off the ground a bit and has a door flap. This will help avoid moisture and drafts from getting in. 

Water-tight shelter

You’ll also want your dog’s outdoor kennel to be water-tight. After all, nothing will make your pup colder than if it gets wet in the winter. With snow, rain, and moisture from the air and ground, there are a lot of ways for water to seep into your dog’s outdoor shelter. 

An above-ground foundation or a raised floor will help keep the water from the ground out. Sealing the roof with tar paper or shingles could help keep rain and snow away from the inside of the kennel as well. Try not to cover it with a tarp, as you don’t want to stop air flow so your dog can breathe. 


It gets coldest at night, so it’s most important to make sure your dog is warm when it is asleep. This means that your dog’s bedding is among the most important parts of keeping it warm in an outdoor kennel. It is important to provide comfortable bedding, as a cold surface can take heat away from your dog’s body. 

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Blankets and fabrics are okay but don’t do as well as something like straw, which will give a better buffer between your dog and the floor. Just remember to replace it when it is dirty, old, or wet!


It might not seem so on the surface, but your dog’s diet can also be a factor in keeping it warm during the winter months. It is important for dogs to keep their energy up in the colder months. This means that small, more frequent meals can be helpful, especially for puppies. 

Make sure the food you’re giving your dogs is at least room temperature. If it’s cold, it won’t help them stay warm and will take more energy to digest. Try not to make it too hot though, as you don’t want to burn their mouths. 

What temperature is too cold for dogs?

You might be thinking that there is some temperature that is too cold for even the most resilient outdoor dogs. Well, it really depends. Just like you and I, different dogs have different tolerances for the cold. The breed also plays a big part, and breeds that originate from colder climates will perform better in the winter. 

There is no hard and fast temperature for bringing your dog inside or manually warming it up. Once it is below freezing, just keep an eye on your dog and watch for some of the signs that your dog is too cold, which we will discuss below. 

Signs your dog is too cold

If your dog is cold to an unhealthy degree, it will show some physical signs, just like a person. Watch out for any of the following: Shivering, not listening to commands or cues, refusing to move, curling up, and refusing to leave the kennel are all signs that your dog might be too cold. 

Remember, dogs not only need to be warm but also need to be with you! They are social creatures. So, although it might be nice to leave them to their own devices outdoors sometimes, make sure they are nice and warm with you indoors a lot of the time as well. 

Do coats and other clothing work well for dogs?

You might think they look silly, but coats and boots for dogs can be really helpful for keeping them warm in the winter. This is especially true of short-haired breeds, which have more trouble keeping body heat in and keeping cold out. 

Be careful though, with thicker-coated dogs, especially young and active ones, a coat can cause overheating. Do some research on your specific breed to see if a coat is something other owners recommend!

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The dangers of keeping your dog outdoors

The dangers of keeping your pet outside are kind of obvious. From things like frostbite to freezing, there are plenty of dangers that make outdoor living in the winter difficult. Because of this, monitoring your dog’s health and behavior if it’s outside a lot in the winter is extremely important. 

The less acclimated to cold weather your breed is, the closer attention you have to pay. Huskies and other thick-coated winter dogs will do well, while dogs like Greyhounds might suffer from their thin coats and short hair. Make sure you are paying very close attention to your dog if you’re allowing it to stay outside to exercise, go to the bathroom, and play in the winter.