Classroom Resources

Building Dog Houses

Develop CTS skills while helping those in need at the same time

Building dog houses for dogs in need allows students to develop basic skills related to building a structure (meeting CTS curriculum outcomes) while positively contributing to their community. These projects provide meaningful experiences that foster skills in CTS and help build and strengthen ties between students, the school and the community. 

This project provides an excellent opportunity to discuss the welfare needs of dogs, including the need for a proper shelter. 

Building a Dog House Project

Dog house made by students.

Building a Dog House Project

Prior to building:

Before starting on the dog house project, take a few minutes to discuss how the dog houses will meet the needs of dogs in the community. 

Ask students:

  • Why do dogs housed outdoors need a dog house? 
  • What do you think makes a good dog house in an Alberta climate? (insulated walls, roof and floor, opening protected from wind/rain/snow, dry bedding such as straw, and appropriately sized for the dog to keep in body heat).
  • Why is it important to have a proper dog house? (Having a proper dog house ensures the dog is comfortable and safe outdoors and contributing to meeting some of the animal’s basic needs. By law, dogs need access to a shelter – even if they don’t regularly use it.)
Next, introduce the Five Freedoms to your students. The basic needs of animals are encompassed in Five Freedoms (which are internationally recognized and promoted by the Alberta SPCA). 
Providing dog houses to dogs in need addresses several of the Freedoms animals require to have their basic needs met.


Ask your students:

  • Who is responsible for meeting a dog’s Five Freedoms? (owner/caretaker)
  • How are each of the dog’s Five Freedoms’s met? Brainstorm some examples for each one (consider how these might change for dogs housed outdoors – scroll down to see “Things to consider when housing dogs outdoors”)
  • For dogs housed outdoors, which freedom(s) does a proper dog house address?  Explain. 

Dog houses address the following freedoms for dogs housed outdoors: 

  • Freedom from discomfort – by providing an appropriate environment that is dry and protects dogs from the elements
  • Freedom from pain, injury, and disease – that can be caused by extreme temperatures
  • Freedom from fear and distress – dogs that do not have protection from injurious heat or cold may become in distress as defined by Animal Protection Act

Building a Dog House Project

Post Building

Have a brief discussion with your students to reflect on the project they’ve completed. 

Ask your students:

  • How will this project impact your greater community?
  • Who else benefits from this project?
  • What did you learn from doing this project? How can you apply this knowledge to make a difference or positively impact your community?

Things to consider when housing dogs outdoors:

  • Dogs should be acclimatized to outdoor living when they are young and the weather is warm.
  • Dogs should have an insulated shelter with an opening that protects dogs from wind, snow and rain (even with a shelter some dogs with short coats may not be able to tolerate the extreme temperatures of Alberta winters).
  • Houses should to have dry bedding (such as straw) and checked frequently to ensure it stays dry.
  • During severe weather, dogs may need to be brought inside the family home or other heated and safe area.
  • Puppies, dogs of advanced aged, or dogs with compromised health should not be housed outdoors during cold weather.
  • Outdoor dogs require more food to maintain their body temperature during cold weather and access to fresh, liquid water.
  • Dogs need exercise and socialization (being outside doesn’t mean they get exercise!). Dogs should be walked and played with daily. Play such as fetch or hide-and-seek with treats or toys are good ways to mentally and physically engage dogs.
  • Toys! Dogs can get bored, so it’s important to give provide them with enrichment (such as Kong toys filled with kibble or peanut butter).


For additional information on pets and cold weather click here.

Curriculum Connections

Description: Students examine common building systems and develop basic skills related to building a simple model or full-size system/structure.

The student will:

  • Apply basic construction techniques to build a simple scale model or full-size structure/system
    • 4 use the appropriate tools, materials and process to:
      • 4.1 construct a simple shelter, scale model or system

This project will enable students to become engaged, active, informed and responsible citizens.

Make Your Mark

Let us know if your students complete this project. They will be added to the Kindness Map and will be awarded a certificate!

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