Outside dog care

We have a dog that lives outside, in our barn. He has a 12x12 stall and access to a 12x 100 foot run.

He’s an outside dog because he’s not safe around other animals. We looked into rehoming him but couldn’t find anyone who would deal with his needs. He does get walked daily on a leash on our farm, although we can run him loose in the arena with the doors shut. I am aware I’ll be judged but he can’t be around other animals if you want them alive and he seems happy.

My question is about winter care. He wears a blanket, which he hates. We have tried to crate him in the heated lounge at night during cold snaps and he tore two crates to pieces. We have tried securing the other animals and allowing him free access to the lounge at night but he will not use it and slept in the hay loft. We tried locking him in the lounge but that didn’t go well for the lounge. We have tried putting an insulated dog house in his stall but he removed the blankets and doesn’t use it.

Right now we bed his stall deep in winter with straw, give him a dog bed, and his blanket. Any other ideas to keep him warm? He’s got a short coat and he’s fairly fat.

Build a straw igloo just a bit larger than he is. Stack the sides high enough that he can stand up comfortably, top with a piece of plywood and put more bales on top of that.


Do you think that would make him more willing to use it if it was straw? He won’t use the dog house.

How cold is it?

I don’t know because it depends on if he likes curling up or being in the open to keep an eye on things. My weenie pitbull would think a straw igloo inside the house for extra protection from the elements was the best thing ever!

If you have the materials, it’s worth a try. I would put it wherever his preferred place to sleep is now and maybe keep the top open to begin with. And remove the doggy blanket if he already hates it.

It’s in the 30s now but it will drop into the teens next week.

As long as he has ACESS to shelter, I would not worry that he chooses not to use it.


Yep, if he has access to shelter and decides not to use it, he’s not cold. Don’t worry. Sounds like he leads the best life possible under the circumstances. Good on you for not dumping him at a shelter.


I agree with this; shavings and/or straw inside. I’d make it deep but with a wide opening in front, if that makes sense. That way it won’t be as confined, maybe that will help?

Do you have video in the stall? It’s possible he would use it overnight but once he hears people coming/going he gets up and comes out.

When we locked him in the barn aisle he slept up in the hay. We would find a little nest. We could get him in the room long enough to eat but that was it.

If you make the straw igloo sturdy enough, he can sleep in it or on top of it.

In his stall, I’d do a straw bale enclosure in the shape of a U, with no roof since that seems to bother him.
It’ll at least block side drafts. And add a cushy a warming bed. Finally, you can add one of those microwaveable warming pads that will provide all-night extra warmth without any electricity risk.

No judgment here. You’re doing right by this dog.


I had a warming item idea also although I don’t know if it could be done safely.

If you’ve figured out he has a set place to sleep could you add a hot water bottle on extra cold nights (with a few bottle sweaters on it so he doesn’t burn himself), wrap it in a sack and bury it in the straw?

I won’t judge you, I think you’re doing your best by this dog and commend you.

I’ve had several high maintennance animals that others have judged me and said, they should just be put down".

Lots of good ideas on here for you to pick, choose or discard from.

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Yes, by igloo I meant interlocking bales in a U or rectangle shape. It was difficult to find pictures of any used for dogs that weren’t really snug but here is a pig version. It also seems to have only half of the top covered so that could be a good compromise.

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What breed? Is it a whimpy doberman coat or a gsd type of coat?
Can you cover the stall to block air from other stalls, basically lightly insulating it?
A boatload of straw should be good. I used hay for my dober in the laundry room. Not insulated, so it could get to freezing or below. Used fiamboard on the ground, then thin plywood, then hay. He would stomp it to tiny pieces and curl up in it. He ate fabrics, would injure himself in crates, open doors & get into things he shouldn’t, so that room was the only, almost, safe place for him at night.
The straw will break down, but unless he toilets in it, don’t remove it and just add more to continue insulating.
Does the stall have access to the run/outside? Can you close the doorway off to a small hole for him to fit through? Use heavy rubber as a door flap.

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The groups that help outside dogs on chains here use the igloo dog houses and straw. I would think that he would use it if he needed too. I’d maybe leave some straw outside of the igloo too just in case. Some dogs can’t be crated due to anxiety, and he could really hurt or kill himself trying to escape from it in a panic (plus the stress is probably not good for him). I think it sounds like he has good shelter and he has it far better than many dogs out there.

What about a heated mat? I don’t think you put anything on it but it would give him a warm place if he needs it. To be honest , if he has a stall with deep bedding and he is well padded himself, he probably doesn’t need anything more.

Have you seen him shivering?

I have the dogloo’s for my outdoor dogs and just fill up with hay. It’s warmer than blankets and stays fluffier than straw. On cold mornings, they come out and their ears are toasty warm. They go the back then arrange a nest for themselves if it’s very cold. If it’s warmer, they lay towards the front.

Honestly, it sounds like the dog has plenty of ACCESS to shelter. One of my dogs rarely uses her house. She prefers to curl up on the loose hay on the porch. I haven’t ever seen her shiver or otherwise appear uncomfortable.

My dad used to keep his fox hounds outside in runs. They went running with GPS collars everyday and had plenty of exercise. He build insulated dog houses and used clear plexiglass on top so he could see inside. On the houses with single or older dogs he would add heated mats and vest, everyone else got heated water bowls and neoprene vest. They also had extra food, usually a lunch meal, to help with the any calorie loss. His dogs didn’t have alot of extra fat to keep warm. He had a temperature gauge in the houses and most stayed well above freezing with the dogs inside.