Lessons from a Filipino Pooch

Dogs in the Philippines are no different than many that roam free in their environment trying to survive, looking for adventures, and lounging for their afternoon naps.  I spent a hot and humid afternoon watching my uncle’s dog named “No-name” (named since he was a stray and my uncle was in a rush), and I saw him kicking the sand skillfully to make just the perfect pillow for his comfort.  The wet sand below the surface made it perfect to fit his body like a glove and provide the coolness needed. He picked a spot close to his pack (family) so he can protect and also join in when activities started to look fun to him (gotta get that frisbee).  The spot had shade and the best breeze.  Ah, what a life.

By watching these independent pups, we can start understanding the basic  ideas they have on what a “shelter” means to them, and how they would appreciate the design of a “green” shelter.  Yes, we like to build doghouses that we can relate to, or that matches the style of our homes, but don’t forget the user of the doghouse.  You can still provide the silk pillows and curtains if that is what you are into, but don’t forget their needs as a canine animal.

Here are some things to keep in mind when designing your doghouse.

1) Being den creatures by nature, the doghouse should be their own domain, familiar and safe. Because of this instinct, they don’t necessarily need a big space with many spaces and levels like humans tend to desire.  A den should be compact according to the size of the dog and somewhat dark inside so he can remain hidden from undesirables like the neighbor’s cat. My dog doesn’t have doghouse since I have no yard, but he has claimed the space under my bed as his little den space. Whenever I need to find him, I always know to look there.

2) Always, design to provide cooling in hot climates or warmth in colder climates depending on when you plan on keeping him there and not on your favorite couch. Make sure air flows freely since their sense of smell is part of their investigative skills. Many architects have found ways of practicing “green” sustainable building practices with their doghouses. Plants hold much water and help keep the structure naturally cool and balanced (not to mention providing another planter for your yard).

3) Dogs instinctually want to be part of a pack, mainly your family. They are very social creatures. Place their doghouse strategically to give them a good view of the yard and in close proximity to the activities of your family.

4) The shelter is also a look-out spot where he can  peek out and watch the day go by while protecting “his” territory and his pack. Make sure to provide look out windows for viewing and smelling, even in the reclining position. Slit windows are often used because the dog can still remain a bit incognito.

5) Always have a place for fresh water nearby since they must always stay hydrated.  Becareful of those pesky ants.

6) Consider flooring that works with the climate. Make sure a blanket or other material is available for him to arrange as he feel needed to get just the right amount of coziness.

The key is to not forget that your pet is not only a family member, but a dog by nature.  Like any good designer, we have to respect the needs of the users of the space more than our own desires of what it should be. Fortunately, our trusty companions are willing to please us as well so it is much easier to design for function and style than some human clients. Try stepping into the paws of your own pet and understand what works best for him.

Filed Under: Other Recent ArticlesThe Dog House

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