If you’re in the market for an aesthetically pleasing dog crate, we don’t blame you if you have sticker shock. Businesses know people feel drawn to dog accessories that go well with their house almost as much as they love their pet.
We’ve got good news for you—it’s easy to make an attractive DIY dog crate at home without breaking the bank. And as the icing on the cake, it won’t cost you nearly as much as similar crates that you’ve come across.
In this guide, we’ll share top tips to consider when preparing to make a dog crate.
1. Be Mindful of Where You Place the Frame
Although this is a DIY project, we’re not going to have you reinvent the wheel—our recommendation is to purchase a cheap wired dog crate and work from there. Not only will this save you time, but it ensures your pup stays in its crate versus you trying to figure out the mechanics of intertwining wire and building a door.
The DIY part comes in because you’ll frame the crate with wood or melamine (more on this soon). That’s what’ll give it an attractive appearance.
However, you should be careful that all framing and additions you make to the crate are strictly on the outside. If you try attaching any part of the frame to the interior of the crate, your dog could chew on the wood, injuring his gums, or accidentally swallow a splinter.
You also want to ensure that the nails you use don’t poke through the materials into the crate. The last thing you want is to injure your dog because of a DIY crate gone wrong!
2. Don’t Frame the Crate’s Bottom
It’s easy to go overzealous with sprucing up a dog crate and think that for the project to be complete, the frame must go on the crate’s bottom, too. Our advice? Don’t do it.
Instead, think of your DIY project as creating a frame that fits snugly over the top of the dog crate, leaving the wire on the ground. In other words, you’ll frame the crate on five sides—four walls and the top. There are numerous advantages to this approach, including:
- More cost-effective because you’re using fewer materials.
- Safer for your dog in case you construct a poorly built base.
- Lighter weight and easier to carry if you need to move the crate around.
Of course, just because you don’t work on the bottom of the crate doesn’t mean that the base will stand out like a sore thumb. On the contrary, the frame you build will have a molding-like appearance on all four sides where the frame touches the ground, giving it an attractive look.
3. Consider Melamine
Choosing the type of material you use to build your DIY dog crate frame comes down to personal preference. However, we encourage you to consider melamine. Melamine is a non-toxic laminate that covers the top layer of wood.
The beautiful thing about it is that you can cut melamine and nail it as you would regular wood, but you don’t have to go through the extra mess (and expense) of painting or staining it.
While we’re on the subject of money, melamine is a cheaper option than many wood varieties. It comes in a range of color options, such as:
- Brazilian Walnut
- Nelson Oak
- Chocolate Pearwood
Furthermore, environmentalists will love that melamine is a sustainable wood product since they produce it using efficient energy.
4. Choose a Size Your Pup Will Grow Into
If you have a puppy, it’s important to consider the crate size you should buy before embarking on your DIY project. We recommend purchasing a crate large enough so you can use it once your puppy is fully grown. That way, you save yourself the time and money of building another dog crate frame.
That said, you might be wondering about your puppy’s comfort since you may know that smaller spaces make puppies feel safe. For this reason, many crates come with dividers. That way, you can insert the partition in the crate, giving them the security they crave.
You can also leave them with their favorite toy or bone to make them feel more comfortable.
As an added comfort bonus to this DIY crate for dogs of any age, the top of the frame will create a roof-like feeling. That’ll make them feel safe and calm since the crate will be dimmer.
5. Gather Your Materials First
The exact materials you’ll need will vary depending on the type of wood you use. Since we recommend using melamine, below are the tools you’ll need to bring your dog crate to life:
- Drill and screws
- Power screwdriver (although you can also do this by hand)
- Finishing tape for melamine
- Finishing dots for melamine
Additionally, you’ll need to measure your crate to determine the length of the pieces you need to cut—if you don’t have a saw at home, no worries! Most hardware stores will cut melamine and wood for you to the dimensions of your choice if you purchase the materials through them.
As a final note, should you decide to build your crate frame from wood, make sure to use non-toxic paint. Even though your dog won’t be able to access the frame from the inside, they could still find it an attractive chewing toy when they’re roaming around your house.
Make sure to look for a non-toxic label on the paint can, and if you ever think your dog came across toxic paint, call the Animal Poison Control Center.
Ready to Build a DIY Dog Crate?
We hope that we’ve inspired you to head to your local hardware store and start gathering materials to make a dog crate. Thanks to this DIY crate’s flat, wire-free surface, you can adorn it with picture frames, lamps, and other knick-knacks that make a house feel like home.
We guess that the next time you have guests over and assuming Fido greets them at the door, they won’t even realize that the piece of furniture in the corner of your living room is a dog crate!