==> Giving a dog a home:

A room for your German Shepherd

Building a Den for your dog

In the public article To Crate or Not to Crate you already saw the benefits of providing a crate to your dog.

Currently, 9.2% of the MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL subscribers keep their GSD outside the house. 90% of our GSD owners keep their German Shepherd inside the house.

In both cases, your dog will appreciate if you give him/her the right place to sleep, doze, rest, chew, and play on its own.

More importantly, giving your dog the right place significantly impacts on your dog's behavior: Many dog behavior problems result to a large degree from the dog not having a dog-suitable place on its own.

For a German Shepherd this is all the more important: Since our dogs have the herding instinct and the need to guard ingrained in their genetical heritage, German Shepherds need a special place.

While every dog needs its own designated resting place close to at least one human Pack member to stay healthy and to avoid behavior problems, a GSD needs a resting place that fulfils more requirements:

  • A GSD's resting place must be close to its 'Pack' (your family)
  • A GSD's resting place must not be locked
  • A GSD's resting place must not have a roof
  • A GSD's resting place must have sufficient size
  • A GSD's resting place must be of the right material

While we discuss each of these requirements below, we will also clarify the terminology because crate and kennel vendors are not clear and consistent here, and hence most dog owners use either the word 'kennel' or the word 'crate' without knowing the difference. We will then move on to how you can easily build a den for your dog yourself - whether crate, kennel, or dog house, or all of them!

Dog's Resting Place

First, a dog's resting place should be available in every room where you are and where you want your dog to join you.

Say, your dog sleeps in a separate area inside or outside the house but you want your dog to be with you in the living room when you are there. Then you must provide a designated resting place for your dog in the living room. This can be as easy and quick as throwing a suitable dog blanket on the floor and showing your dog to lie down on that blanket.dog blanket

Why is this important?

Because, if your dog doesn't know its place, (s)he will be restless, trying out various places where (s)he feels comfortable and where you allow the dog to be resting - ie without enticing to change place, without scolding, and without giving any commands. Soon this restlessness becomes stress, then stolidity, and then aggression and/or health issues!

So, if you are currently facing any perceived behavior problems of your dog, one aspect to consider is whether your dog has its designated resting place in every room where you want your dog to be, or where your dog is allowed to be. Do provide such resting places, eg throw a blanket on the floor. Almost immediately you should be able to notice the massive difference this will make to your dog's overall behavior!

The blanket shown above is from Westpaw® and hence it is of the right material and of suitable quality for a German Shepherd:

  • tough
  • smooth
  • washable
  • hypoallergenic
  • and pet-hair repellent

dog nap blanketPosher, more comfortable versions of a German Shepherd resting place are more padded, eg the Nap Mat. We have both Westpaw's blanket and Westpaw's nap mat. :-D

dog bedEven more padded is the GSD Bumper Bed. Both are also from Westpaw®, so these are made of the right material and they are of GSD-suitable quality.


Dog Crate

Next higher up in the hierarchy of a home for your dog is the dog crate. A dog crate is not just for resting but also for sleeping. Unless you have a house the size of a palace, a dog crate should be available only in one room of the house.

Yes, a dog crate is always inside the house. Here you see that crate and kennel are not the same thing. Only a resting place like a dog blanket or dog bed as shown above can be (and should be) both inside the crate and inside the kennel.

best dog crate for GSDThis is a dog crate, and actually it's the best dog crate, for the following reasons:

  • When your GSD is lying down, the side panels reach above the highest point of your dog. Your GSD both notices this and appreciates this: (S)he will feel safe when sleeping, ie when unable to react instantly to looming danger.
  • When sitting or standing, your GSD can easily look over the edge of all side panels. Your GSD appreciates this because (s)he knows she can quickly check the outside whenever (s)he wants to.
  • The entry side of this dog crate has only a low side panel. This allows your GSD quick reactions, ie getting out quickly. It also provides for easy getting in, and hence makes this dog crate ideal for a Senior GSD too. Have this entry side face a wall or better a room corner (at say 80 inch distance), and your dog will know that (s)he is not visible and hence will feel safe as mentioned above.
  • There is no roof on a dog crate. A dog is not a rabbit that seeks to hide in a burrow, because a dog instinctively knows that it is too large for a burrow to be safe: In a den with a 'roof', the entry would need to be so large that a dog (and particularly a GSD!) would know that looming danger could get in while the dog is sleeping! The dog instinctively knows that it would have little chance to defend itself in a place where it can hardly stand up and turn around. Therefore, a dog in the wild would not choose a 'crate' with a roof - nonetheless almost every commercial dog crate vendor makes dog crates with a roof! :-(
  • The size of the dog crate is large enough for a German Shepherd to turn around, to fully stretch out, and of course to stand up (because the crate has no roof!)
  • The dog crate is of dog-friendly material. Wood is dog-friendly material, as long as the anti-woodworm finish you use is 'green' (hypoallergenic) and does not exhibit its own smell. You will know that dogs have a much better sense of smell than humans (apparently, the best sense of smell have bloodhounds and bassets; and all herding dogs, like the GSD, have an excellent sense of smell too). Wood also is particularly good as material for a GSD crate because, again, a German Shepherd instinctively knows if the crate material is strong enough for the dog to feel safe while sleeping.
  • Of course the crate has rounded edges, to be smooth and safe for your dog.
  • alternative puppy crateThe above dog crate is also suitable if you have a GSD puppy, regardless of age. Although if you wanted you could provide a small puppy with its own smaller crate, this is not necessary: A young GSD puppy's herding instinct and need to guard is not yet as much developed, hence it is not similarly crucial for the puppy to be able to look over the edges of the three high side panels. Instead, what you can do (but don't have to do) is to temporarily fix a curtain across the side of the low side panel as long as you have a GSD puppy of say age < 3.5 months:

best dog crate for dog and puppy

While the pup can easily slip through the curtain, it may feel safer during sleep and hence is more calm when awake!

For all the reasons listed above, this type of dog crate is the best dog crate, not only for the GSD but for every dog.

But you cannot buy this best dog crate: Crate vendors only sell kennels, or small puppy crates like the one pictured above.

Dog Kennel

Next higher up in the hierarchy of a home for your dog is the dog kennel.

Like a crate, a kennel is not just for resting but also for sleeping. However, unlike a crate, a kennel is a closed area for the dog, with a roof and a door, typically even with a lock. This is where the word 'kennel' as a dog shelter derives from, they all are closed areas for dogs.

In a kennel, dogs are locked away because the handler or owner fears trouble if the dog or dogs can freely move in and out. Either trouble for the owner or handler or other people, or trouble for the dog(s). Both is proof that the dog owner or handler failed to learn how to fully house-train the dog!

This is what a Top dog expert says:
Find out more: Click to save vet cost, training cost, and your nerves!

Again, you see that kennel and crate are not the same thing. Indeed, kennel and crate serve the opposite objective.

These are examples of dog kennels:

kennel1 kennel2
kennel3 kennel4

kennel5A kennel can be made for inside or outside the house. The first image above clearly shows an indoor kennel (in the living room), and the last image clearly shows and outdoor kennel (in the garden).

You can also clearly see that all of them are lockable from the outside, and the dog cannot escape through the roof - because that's the purpose of a kennel: to keep the dog inside the kennel until the owner or handler decides to let the dog out.

The first two or three pictured indoor kennels at least allow the dog to be close to its owner: the dog can hear you, see you, and smell you. Nonetheless these kennels too are entirely unsuitable for a dog - unless the dog is not yet fully house-trained, but then you really need to ask: Why not?!

Then there is a dog training issue to solve, not a crate/kennel issue! So better get the Complete House Training Guide ASAP before you waste your money on a kennel and keep your dog locked away like a rat.

The last two or three outdoor kennels go as far as locking the dog away from its owner, out of sight, in a cage! This serves no purpose at all - unless the dog has a contagious disease or is infested with fleas (but then there is a health issue to solve!), or the owner doesn't really want a dog (then there is a personal issue to solve).

Furthermore, if a GSD is locked away it's even counter-productive: Then the German Shepherd cannot guard it's 'pack', it cannot protect the family. Experienced intruders notice long before they enter the premises whether there's a dog that is free to attack them right upon entry, or whether there's a dog that's locked away in a kennel: The first dog barks from varying directions, the second dog barks always from the same direction. Also, the barking sound is very different too.

Kennel use and Dog Behavior Issues

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The reasons above come on top of the significant behavior issues that kennel dogs typically exhibit within a short period of time: For a dog it is unnatural to be locked away behind a fence, mesh wire, or wood truss. Both, for a wild dog and for a domesticated dog too. Domesticated dogs have been bred for at least 4,000 years to be ... well, domestic, ie with the owner inside the house. This genetic predisposition cannot suddenly be 'untrained' by some modern dog owners who wish to keep their dog outside the house, out of sight.

Again, this is even worse for German Shepherds, because their genetic predisposition requires from them to follow their herding and guarding instinct in order to remain mentally and physically healthy. GSDs cannot do this when they are locked away in a kennel, whether an indoor kennel or outdoor kennel.

We strongly suggest that you at least consider all the points above if you currently lock away your dog in a kennel. At least leave the door open or take the door out, once your dog is house-trained. And since House Training should start right away when you get your dog, there isn't really much purpose of locking your dog away at any point in time.

Even Isolation (upon severe misconduct like biting, or nipping outside dedicated play) should never happen in a kennel, as that would associate the kennel with punishment, and your dog would start to hate the kennel, its prime residence.

Dog House

Finally, a dog house can be as simple as

this:dog house 1or this:dog house 2

moving on to say

this:dog house 3or this:dog house 4

or even something like this?dog house 5

Notice that in all cases, the dog house is open, it is not locked! Because then it would be a dog kennel:

doghouse inside kennelWhen I see this I wonder, why not then make your entire premises the 'kennel': You get all the above-mentioned advantages, you don't have an ugly mesh-steel-construction in your garden, and you don't have to spend $229 on that!

Typically a dog house will not have a door, however, depending on where you live a dog-only flap door as part of the door where you can enter (or in addition) may well be worth considering: After all you want that your dog feels safe while asleep, you don't want your dog to be surprised or attacked by any type of outdoor animal.

Furnishing the crate, kennel, and/or dog house

Of course, depending on weather conditions in your region, an outdoor dog house and an outdoor kennel may need to have some (safe) source of heating installed.

Close to every crate, kennel, and dog house should be a drinking place for your dog, where you regularly provide a clean bowl full of fresh water.

The water bowl should be next to the indoor crate (ie outside the crate), but inside the dog house (if large enough) and certainly inside the (locked) kennel if you insist to have one for now, maybe because you feel your dog might make a mess in your high-value home because (s)he's not yet fully house-trained.

This is because:

  • A crate as described and illustrated above is too small (you neither want the water to collect dust and dirt, nor that your dog can't freely turn around in its crate, nor that your dog accidentally spills the bowl and wettens the dog blanket or dog bed).
  • If you use a locked kennel, you must provide the water bowl inside, so that your dog won't dehydrate because it can't reach the water bowl!
  • An outdoor dog house should be built large enough for the water bowl to be placed inside (and for you to easily reach inside to clean and fill it), because a water bowl that's standing outside for a long period of time will collect loads of (invisible) dust, dirt, pollen, vermin and bacteria - that your dog shouldn't ingest.

Of course, inside every crate, dog house, and kennel you will want to provide some basic resting place too (more examples at the top).

Typically you will have only one crate, dog house, and/or kennel for your dog, but if you have several dogs, maybe each dog has its own dog house or kennel, or its own area within the same dog house or kennel.

Certainly each dog should get its own crate and its own resting place(s) inside your house (and its own resting place inside the dog house or kennel; they even get this in a rescue center if the kennel can afford this). Although, depending on age, the dogs (or rather puppies) may sometimes choose to sleep in the same crate, kennel, dog house, or even on the same resting place.

How to build a dog den (crate/ kennel/ dog house)

Benefits of building your own dog den (crate and dog house and/or kennel):

  • It truly is great fun and very rewarding!
  • It really is easy if you have the right instructions and tools (with that, even DIY-novices like myself can do it, and enjoy it!)
  • Your GSD will notice the dedication and excitement, and will feel personally connected to its new home!
  • Your dog will appreciate being inside the crate, kennel, or dog house; (s)he will want to use it! - Is it pride in her eyes?
  • You get the right crate, dog house and/or kennel for your dog, not some commercial 'third-best workaround'! Meaning, you can incorporate all the points mentioned above, and get the best crate, dog house, and/or kennel.

So, build it! :-)

Equipment and tools you need:

  • Wood (pine or similar, whatever is cheaply available in your region)
  • Some form of detailed instructions, like Ted's Woodworking® plans, instructions, and project descriptions
  • Saw, Drill, Kreg Jig®, and Sander
  • Safety goggles, Soft ear plugs, Dust mask, Measuring tape, Pencil, Wood glue
  • Eco-friendly ('green') anti-woodworm Finish and (if for outdoors) weather-protection Finish

Don't even try to get around the Kreg Jig® and instructions like Ted's Woodworking® project plans - you will regret it! There is no question that if we had the right tools and trainer, we could master anything in life: A happy relationship with our dog, flying a helicopter or the Space Shuttle, becoming US president, etc. And: building the right dog crate, kennel, and/or dog house!

The Kreg Jig® Junior is sufficient for simple projects (if you need it get the Master).

And Ted's Woodworking® plans, instructions, and project descriptions are for a lifetime: For an embarassingly low price you get thousands of amazing ideas and concise, detailed, and easy-to-understand plans, instructions, and project descriptions that will make you a hobby woodworker in no time. You may suddenly even want to make your new hobby a new income source by selling 'your' ideas of beautiful wooden home improvements.

Like us, you will see yourself achieving home improvement projects that go way beyond building a dog crate and a dog house for your German Shepherd. Suddenly you will want to make many wooden improvements to your home that you couldn't even imagine before. And with the right equipment and plans and guidance now you easily can too.

DIY dog crate, kennel, and dog house building is cheaper and more fun and rewarding than buying a commercial crate, kennel, or dog house. Plus, you get exactly what's best for your dog!

Don't be afraid if you've never built anything before, but only been convenience-shopping. With the right equipment and the right instructions it is so easy that you will wish you had started earlier.


Checklist * (see note at the bottom)

  • Every dog needs its own resting place close to at least one human Pack member
  • You can simply throw a suitable dog blanket on the floor, or place a Dog Nap Mat, or even a GSD Bumper bed in every room where you are and where you want your dog to be too
  • Without a dedicated resting place in every such room, your dog will be restlessly trying out various places where (s)he feels comfortable and where you allow the dog to be resting
  • Soon this restlessness becomes stress, then stolidity, and then aggression and/or health issues!
  • Also provide your dog with the right dog crate, but only one crate for each dog in the house
  • The best dog crate you cannot buy - however, you can easily build it yourself with sth like Ted's comprehensive woodworking plans and the right tools incl. a Kreg Jig®
  • The best dog crate as described above is suitable for a GSD of any age: GSD puppy, Adult GSD, and Senior GSD - meaning, you only build it once
  • The crate must not have a roof and no lockable door either
  • A dog kennel has a roof and a door, typically even with a lock
  • A locked kennel is unsuitable for any dog, and entirely wrong and counter-productive if you have a GSD
  • If you feel you need a lockable kennel for your dog (or currently use one), you really need to learn how to fully house-train your dog instead!
  • So don't waste your money on a lockable kennel. Kennel dogs typically exhibit significant behavior issues within a short period of time.
  • The genetic predisposition of the German Shepherd requires that the GSD can run around freely on the premises in order to remain mentally and physically healthy
  • If you have a garden or yard, an outdoor dog house - in addition to the indoor dog crate - is ideal for a GSD
  • Again, the dog house must be open - or have a flap door for your dog to exit freely
  • You must also provide a suitable drinking place for your dog close to every crate, kennel, or dog house
  • IF you use a locked kennel, you must provide the water bowl inside the kennel
  • In every crate, dog house and kennel, do provide some basic resting place too: a suitable dog blanket or dog nap mat
  • Building your own dog den (crate and dog house and/or open kennel) has many benefits, both for your dog and for yourself (see above)
  • Remember that with the right tools and trainer, we could master anything in life! While without the right tools and trainer, we struggle with everything. Stop struggling, and get the right tools and trainer.
  • Because then, building your own dog den is so easy and rewarding that you will wish you had done it sooner!



==> Next edition: How to Care for a Senior GSD <==

Miguel at 28w Can you give back a bit today?



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    Did you forget /periodical/german-shepherd-traveling/


    Hi Tim,

    I just wanted to let you know how informative and useful I find your periodicals. Unlike other email based "organisations" , you provide real insight that really has made a difference. Our GSD Indie is now 7 months old and was a real handful when we got her at 4.5 months. She is our third GSD, our other two both died last year of old age at 12 and 13, so we are not new to owning a GSD!. We had the others from 8 weeks and not getting Indie until 18 weeks made a real difference to our first months with her - and her behaviour. We have employed many of the tips that you suggest and have sorted out lots of the problems! The recommendations for good toys was useful too - she loved the Patypus Egg toy and it lasted a considerable time before she shredded it's nose! Do you have any periodicals on digging? Indie is not so much of a digger but a tunneller! Keep up the good work - we really do value your emails!


      Hey Heather, Thanks for the compliments, indeed each WEEKLY Periodical is more work than other GSD sites put in within a YEAR!
      On digging? Hm, no not yet, is normally not THAT a big issue with GSDs, and for the first 64 weeks are already scheduled more important topics. I can add a Periodical on digging later.

      But what to do right now, hm? The most important point is obvious, and you probably have thought about it but didn't like the implications, ha! I say it anyway:

      1) Indie has far too much excess energy! When our dogs come back from exercise they are SO exhausted there is no interest in digging anything! Just resting, dozing, sleeping. Go out and about with Indie, go hiking whenever you can (as long as your dog can). Or take a bicycle and make your dog run next to it (if leash-trained). - I said you wouldn't like this bit, didn't I? ;-)

      2) Other than exercise: When she digs next time and you catch her red-pawed, I'd say a short, sharp "NO!", go TO her, say "No digging!" and give her favorite chew toy instead. Do NOT make the ground look nice again at that moment, she'd interprete that as a new game she can play with you.

      3) Honestly consider how much attention you give her, how much together-time you spend with her? A GSD cannot lie around for hours without social interaction! That's not what this dog has been bred for. It's not that if you don't interact, she destroys your landscaping endeavors on purpose (never), it's that if YOU don't find it, she has to find HERSELF sth to do...
      - If I were a dog, and in the garden, what would be nicer than digging around a bit? I can release my energy, tone my muscles, find distraction, maybe discover sth really cool in the ground,... tons of reasons why I'd be digging! Maybe Indie even has a "green paw" - LOVES gardening?!

      4) What you COULD try (I haven't tried this yet cause I had no reason): When she digs next time, once you notice the construction site, you could go TO her, GENTLY take her by the collar, lead her to the construction, point your finger at it and say "NO!, No digging!" while putting on a grim look when looking in her eyes. Then, again GENTLY on the collar, take her inside and lock the garden door so that she realizes "Huhh, I can't go out anymore".

      She'll be thinking "Why?", and when you do this consistently a few times she'll realize "Mum doesn't like my own landscaping endeavors", and will stop doing it. - UNLESS she actually uses the digging to tell you sth (like, spend more time with me mate!). If THIS is the case, you'll find out quickly: Once she can't dig anymore, she'll find sth else to get your attention!

      Important for all the above: Don't say anything else, don't touch her, don't give ANY treat (not just no food treat), don't look at her (apart from the above). AND don't hold a grudge. Remember, imagine it was me in your garden... :-)

      Let us all know how it went!


    Having just rescued my 6 year old gorgeous pure bred male German Shepherd from 10 1/2 months in a kennel, I am letting him pick the spots he likes to nap in and sleep in. Thank you for giving me the idea of a throw/mat for each "suggested" additional spot. He has already selected one where he naps, but is not used for overnight sleeping. It is a lovely rug where he stretches out and keeps an eye on the front door and a deck door. Will be sure to get throws to make his overnight spot easier for him to select. Thank you again for your wonderful information.


      And Thank You so much for rescuing a 6 year old 10 1/2 months kennel dog!!


    I really appreciate your insight into the behaviour of dogs. Specially the German Shepherd


    Hi Zeus barks at night when see sees a bird, hear a pool pum come on, etc. to stop him from waking everyone up and the complaints from neighbors, we have started locking Zeus up in a kennel which has a blanket over it fo warmth and security. He now knows it is his night time sleeping place and is happy with it. I am not as he as you say cannot be an effective guard being locked up. What can I do to stop him barking at night an d stop locking him up. He does bark during the day at anything really. With that he also shows agression to other dogs when we take him out for a walk, etc. he has been attacked by another dog while walking with as and since then we can't stop his agression. It would be nice to have him off lead but can't.


    I am a first time visitor to this site but it seems as if you may have some insight into our issue. We have a 2 yr old GSD who for at least a year and a half now has been fascinated by the dust and lint particles that float in the air. When he sees it he gets anxious,begins whimpering and drooling bucket fulls of slobber all over the floor, his next step is to start snapping at the lint, this will go on until we put him away or cover up the windows.


      It's a phobia, you need to desensitize him. Is he neutered? Any other issues? Recently vet-checked? Where do you live?
      I ask because phobias sometimes are triggered by infestation with a parasite.


    Thank you for the article Tim. Do you have any recommendations on "Eco-friendly (‘green’) anti-woodworm Finish"? I tried to do a quick google search but there doesn't appear to be too much, ProBor® Wood Preservatives is perhaps the only possible option I saw.


      Huuh Iana, how can you jump 7 weeks of Periodicals in the blink of an eye? I just! answered your question under the Travelling Periodical. You having some wizardry skills? I love Harry Potter! :-)

      Okay, seriously now: Search for "plant-based" instead. It's usually flax. Plant-based wood finishing CAN have additional toxins, yes, but if, they have much less, some have "none". Note that plant-based wood finishing is mostly water-based, thus only suitable for inside. For outdoor things I don't think you can get around using some toxic finish. Monocoat is plant-based but with plant-oil content, don't know how much.

      Note that, unless you use formalaldehyd-based stuff (DON'T!), you can apply an anti-woodworm, wait a few days to have it dry out in the sun, and then apply the eco-friendly wood finish. Twice, instead of their recommendation ("once is enough").

      As an alternative to plant-based finishes you could also consider a mineral-based anti-woodworm finish, like Borax, a Boron derivative.
      Regardless what you apply, do it outside, not just ventilated.


    Hi guys,

    We have a puppy German Shepherd that we just purchased. We are in process of buying a Dog House/Kennel for it. As they grow pretty quickly, we would prefer to buy one that'll be suitable for him when he grows up.

    I am just wondering about the dimensions of the Dog House required for him once he is fully grown? I understand that we should buy the biggest one we can find, as they are large dogs, but at the moment we are looking at one that we like with following internal dimensions: 97cm L x 70cm W x 86cm H. Door/Enty opening is: 45cm H x 28cm W.

    Just wondering if this might be suitable for him.

    Thanks a lot in advance!!


      Our girls here are slightly upset that you didn't greet them, but I told them you are from Australia, so now they love you nonetheless.
      Hmmm, you don't want to build a den for your GSD, but BUY one?? Why?

      Okay I better leave my humor aside, or some might misunderstand it ;-)

      Is that "dog house/kennel" for outdoors, to give him shade from the Australian sun, or do you want it as his prime residence indoors, as a substitute for a proper crate? BIG difference!

      As a substitute for a proper crate:
      Yes, that size would be fine for an adult German Shepherd as well, since he can stand up(!) and turn around. He can't stretch out, but you can't buy such size anyway. HOWEVER, I personally certainly wouldn't buy this one:

      - It has a small "door/entry" (probably even lockable, thus giving the dog owner the false impression "I can just lock away the dog, we don't need to House-Train the dog).

      - Your GSD will have to creep into that burrow like a rabbit and, at the latest, when he becomes a senior dog he won't be able to creep, only to walk upright. Similarly when he's ill. So where shall he sleep then?

      Which material is it anyway? Since you have the Periodical right here above, you know how important the material is too. Is it wood? Or such a cage-style wire mesh one?


        Hi there,

        I sent a reply but it doesn't seem to be showing on here. Bloody technology. :) LoL

        The Kennel (what we call it here in Australia), is built out of wood. I've attempted to insert a link to the exact same Kennel that I found on the net, but it's not allowing me to post it.

        Nevertheless, the Kennel is made out of wood, it does not have a lockable or closable door, it's a simply cut out entry. It's only to be used for the backyard during the day, where the dog can sleep/stay, out of sun or perhaps rain. At night, he would be living in the garage. And before I get told off, the Garage is connected to the house and only separated by a door. The door would be left open at night so the dog can come inside. Perhaps some nights in summer he might spend outside in the Kennel but that's about it.

        My main concern was if the dimensions that I noted previously would be suitable for a large German Shepherd, even to sleep in at times. But it's certainly not a cage or mash. I wouldn't put any dog in those, unless it was being transported. I like to see him have his freedom and walk/run around, as they usually do.


        The technology isn't bloody at all, it's highly useful, it protects us from the universe-cracking amount of spam(!) people try to post on our site! It clearly says: Anything with a link lands in SPAM. Spammers can't read, but our members can. The reason why your posts land in spam too:

        1) You tried to post a link, doh!
        2) Your email isn't registered as a member, oh!

        The only reason why I see it: I currently seek out the most stupid SPAM for a book, yeah! That should be funny. As dog owners you normally have no chance to meet spammers. :-)

        Yes, I said, the crate SIZE is fine. Have you learned how to treat a German Shepherd? It's not a dingo, you know.


    Chief has his proper bed in the lounge and his portable 'Resting Place' for the kitchen, dining room etc. he tends to favour laying by the front or at times the back door where it's cooler.


    Thank-you for all of your helpful advice. I love how Kai will follow me into different rooms in the house and either sit or lay down and watch whatever I'm doing. He is very relaxed in all rooms from the kitchen to the laundry room. He always picks a spot about two feet away from me. He doesn't jump up on the couch unless our 12 month female does; then he follows suit. His sleeping pad was a wool blanket stuffed with cotton. The only thing left is the outer covering. Is the "stuffing" harmful? I don't want to buy him another bed if he is going to eat it and get sick. Thank-you Sher


      Sher, by all means don't let him EAT the bedding, that IS dangerous, yes! Even if it's not toxic, it can suffocate him.
      I can't believe he ATE it. Puuh. That would be a clear sign of excessive boredom. Then he needs more exercise.

      If you want you could train Kai to show the pup how to behave. Such that she won't jump up either.

      Have a look at the Dog Bedding section here, they are apparently the best.


    Thank-you, I like the top bumper and the "chew-Proof". I don't know what got into him the night he decided to destroy his bed...it was a nice one too! That may have been the night our female went into heat and we separated them. Could he have gone through separation anxiety, or anger because he could not try to mate?


      Can be, I thought you had neutered him, and spayed her. This is news to me. For him it's late, Sher.


    Hi Tim, love your periodicals, however, when you talk about resting places, Max will not rest anywhere except his crate. And anything we buy, such as a blanket or pad, will be chewed up. All he wants to do is play "fetch" with his balls. So, I will put balls away in the evening. He cannot sit still....I know he needs more excerise, but weather conditions in Ohio right now are frigid. Total ice on the ground and Max slides everywhere. I bought the "tail teaser", but it is definately an outdoor thing and could not be used on these icey grounds.He is 13 months old and 90 lbs, not exactly a small dog! I was thinking about purchasing a treadmill, but can be expensive. I am so ready for Spring!!! One more thing, is neutering a way to calm a dog down, or is Max too young still?


      Hey Trish, and I love you! :-) You are always kind, you greet before you speak or ask, you use names, you are polite, and you are always willing to learn more to improve Max' and your own life! A model dog owner! He's very lucky to have you. Wish more people were like Trish!

      The weather, oh yes!! Just this morning, merely half-awake after another night of subconscious pounding of endless rain I was contemplating: "Since November it has been raining half of the time, day and night!" (I am recovering from the surgeries in the Algarve/Portugal - meant to be heaven-like weather!). I am definitely waiting for spring too! Ah well.

      So what can we do for exercising Max in bad weather? A really tough question. I guess you are right, this is the weather when a dog treadmill would be perfect. Plus, a treadmill actually offers some unique and fantastic scope for dog training (maybe I should write a Periodical on those points at some time..). But did you see this page about dog indoor exercise remedies? We need more there, no question!

      You say you won't use the tail teaser indoors? Is this because all your rooms are packed with furniture, hm? :-)
      Can you maybe arrange them a bit different? I ask because the tail teaser actually would be great indoors (and much cheaper than the treadmill). You "only" need to get a 4*4m area obstacle-free, that is enough. Then you stand in the middle of that area and just entice Max by swinging the tail around and over/across your body.

      For the Soft Toss Ring and the Indoor Chuckit Ball a different room arrangement is better: Rather than square, try to clear a longer narrower area off all obstacles (like a hallway or such thing).

      If anyone knows of more (safe!) ways than these to exercise the GSD indoors, by all means post replies here.

      As to neutering: Sorry that the order in which the Periodicals come is not ideal (with hindsight we are always smarter). Although you'll get that one actually in two weeks anyway, please consider making an appointment for Max NOW. Despite differing views on the right time for altering (and whether at all, and indeed everything else in the world!!), I strongly suggest pediatric altering (meaning while a puppy), because - despite all rumors(!) - pediatric altering is the safest thing to do, in every aspect!

      One such aspect is what you asked: Yes indeed, it will calm down Max a LOT. However: Max being 13 months old, you will almost certainly notice a drastic change in behavior, all desirable except one: temporary aggression (because you neuter too late, reasons later in the Periodical). This will be exacerbated by the fact that Max doesn't get enough exercise (considering that he's a GSD, not a Chihuahua).

      In short, temporarily his pent-up energy will increase further (you know about my "dogs are energy recipients" and "Pack conflict" and "Prime Secret" and such points, right? If not, tell me and I'll get you sth, if you know what I mean ;-) ). Thus, in this case (winter weather) I'd suggest: Make the appointment for the time of the first spring spells. Plus, so that you can handle the temp aggression, make absolutely sure that you are the accepted Pack leader before, ie now, (the way I wrote it everywhere). Then you are good to go ahead. Okay?


    Hi Tim,
    Thank you, thank you for the Kindle book "dog behavior and owner behavior"!! I can't wait to get it, plus I am getting a new kindle as well!! I will definately let you know what I thought and what I learned. I also did what you said about making more space inside to use the "tail teaser" and guess what....it works!!

    So for now, Max is getting some good exercise indoors. We still have to keep all doors shut, he is quite the curious GSD. It doesn't matter how much exercise he gets, the "boy" will not just lay down. Always, always wants to play ball. We've also thought about getting a "buddy" for Max to play with, however, not sure yet. I think he would be jealous, but maybe not. Anyway, won't do anything until he is neutered. So, again, thank you for your kind words and the "gift"!! Til next time.....Trish


      Thanks Trish. A play buddy for Max would be good, and since you will introduce them properly, there will be no problems.

      >It doesn’t matter how much exercise he gets, the "boy" will not just lay down.
      Oh, he will. He seems to be a true working dog at heart. Such GSDs need a minimum(!) of 6 hours running around each day. If I could, I would bring him back to you in the evening, and he'd have no energy left for a bark :-)


    Thanks Tim for the speedy response!!
    Maybe we should consider a "doggy day care", or a pet sitter. I had no idea GSD needed that much exercise. Guess I should have done my homework.
    It's been a very long winter, but I still take Max outside to play. He goes nuts over frisbees!!! One thing I wanted to ask you, when I use the vacuum or even my mop, he goes nuts. I feel like he's going to have a heart attack. I just don't understand. Could it be sweeper is too loud? But what about the mop? Totally confused!!


      Trish, do you have the Dog Training Toolkit? Your exact case is in there, under Desensitization Example. And Dan shows it on video.
      Too much to post here as reply, but in short: He suffers. If you don't desensitize him, do the cleaning when he's elsewhere. But note that Max' behavior indicates that he didn't receive comprehensive Socialization. Although at 14 months it's a bit late for him now, I'd follow through as soon as you can. That will significantly reduce his overall stress level, and thus give him a longer life as well. :-)


    Hi Tim, and thanks for an interesting post and following discussion. Penny's 1 now (on Friday!) and sleeps inside with me and there's just me and her in the house (I'm an 'old' lady); she has an old sturdy couch near the back door leading out to the garden as a rest spot, but a lot of the day she's in my bedroom with me (or wherever else I am) lazing like the queen of Sheba on my bed (feather pillows LOL) on her mat - I had to put a mat on the bed as she's ended up with spay incontinence. She's on hormone replacement therapy (!) and the problem seems to be fixing itself but I'm not taking any chances. At bedtime I ask her to hop off and she sleeps on a pad next to the french doors in my room.
    Initially we had problems whenever I had to go out without her, to the point of her 'forbidding' me to leave by standing in the front doorway with teeth bared and growling and barking, but we've sorted out that you don't speak to mum that way and now the leaving procedure is for me to ask her to 'sit' (while she's whining and yelping complaint that I'm going) and when she does she gets a treat; then to 'drop', and another treat, then to catch the last treat and I leave - when I come home she's frequently on my bed, bleary-eyed, head up but ears down… "Hey, pup, how's it going" en route to the kitchen and she stretches and gets up and follows me. The greetings and lickings start after the groceries are away :-) Much easier, and suggested to me by one of the guys at the dog park. She barks and complains after I've left, but I've driven down the street a bit and come back on foot and she was quiet. I think having a resting place she likes has a lot to do with this, as it must be unpleasant for her to be all alone without pack.


    Hello, I'm a new subscriber and very excited to have access to all of this great information! My husband and I have decided to make a GSD a new addition to our family. I'm trying to read as much as possible beforehand so I don't make too many mistakes once we bring our puppy home.

    I love the idea of building a crate like the one pictured in this article. What are the dimensions (length, width, height of sides) that I should use? I'd like to build a crate that the pup can grow into. Thanks!


      Madeline, if this will be your first GSD, I'd strongly suggest to consider getting an adult dog first. GSD pups are unlike other pups: they are MUCH more demanding and exhausting!

      If you then love having the GSD, then you could still get a GSD puppy. Benefit: The adult will take over a LOT of the needed training (but none of the socialization!), and both dogs can interact thus boredom is a bit less likely. :-)

      Boredom is poison for dogs, and even more so for GSDs!


    Thanks for the advice, Tim. I had a GSD with a boyfriend (many years ago!) that we adopted when he was about 8 months. It was definitely exhausting, even more so since he had been in a shelter for most of his life.

    If we do decide on getting an adult, should we still provide a crate for him? Should the height of the sides come up to the top of the shoulders?

    Thank you!

    PS: boredom won't be a problem since I am home most of the day! We'll probably just wear each other out :)


      Ah okay.
      Yes, a "den" is always needed, see the different types above, choose what you find suitable: Although a (open!) crate does make dogs much calmer (ie better behaved), frankly if I am not for long in one place I don't offer a (bulky) crate either, just the nap mat and the blanket (we have them both too). However, a crate for the night certainly is very beneficial for the dog.
      Size and height as above.


    Hi Tim can you use cedar for the crate?


      Sure, I wouldn't know what speaks against it? I wouldn't choose one though that smells too strong, and certainly not one that has been treated with chemicals.
      What is your concern with cedar?


        Hi Tim I was just worried that he may not take to the smell but raw cedar seemed a good choice to me


        Good to know, thanks for your feedback.


    Hey Tim,
    I am a new subscriber here, and i love this site. :) I live in India and here the climate is quite hot so i was wondering which material would be the best for building my gsd house. I am planning to keep my Gsd on my terrace (as she can move around and be free all the time) but its very sunny during the day, so i was wondering whether a wooden house will be good or will it make the heat problem even worse? or should i stick to a brick house? please suggest the best material to avoid heat and prevent my gsd from dehydration or any other problems caused by heat.

    ps- your health manual was great and very helpful :) thanks!


      Welcome Gandhali,
      - how hot is it getting in the shade?
      - I live pretty hot too, and the key obviously just is to keep your dog in the shade
      - if shaded, I would think that both wood and certain brick is good (but better ask a local builder)
      - if the dog has to stay alone, the dog house MUST be in the shade during 10am to 4pm (check the sun to find a place)
      - get some cheap reflectng foil or so to put on roof
      - place full fresh water bowls inside
      That's what I would do (but the dogs don't have to stay alone outdoors in the sun).


    There's plenty of shade and its quite cool too. I have literally sat there for hours and checked it myself, but i don't know why she feels so dehydrated. So now i have changed my mind and planned to keep her with me in my room, that's is a lil troublesome but i'll potty train her. :)


    Hi Tim I've been reading your articles for quite awhile now and found them very useful so thanks alot..was just wondering my GSD has got his own room with a small bathroom in it in my apartment with a sofa as his bed and pretty much rests and sleeps there except for the time he spends with us in front of the tv or whatever but he hasn't got a crate..do I need to build a crate in his room?!


    Hi Tim.
    Would you happen to have step by step instructions including the dimensions to build the "best dog crate for GSD" for a full grown shepherd?


      Hi Veronica, dimensions are above. If you want to spend the time, you can likely also find some helpful free videos for the build process, but here we focus on dog stuff. We are not a woodworking site, hence the links.

      You don't necessarily need a crate at all though: In My New Puppy Diary I show that two thin, cheap, pressed wood sheets, against the wall and connected with hinges are enough. But that's because already my new puppy is fully house-trained and thus has free run of the house. So we don't have any "closed area" at all (whether crate, kennel, or dog house). Maybe this is best for you too?


    Hi Tim,
    Thank you very much for your your response and for all of your wonderful work, it is greatly appreciated.


    Hello. Can you please inform me as to the dimensions the dog crate should be? I am adopting a 10 week old GSD puppy next week and I cannot afford to buy Teds Wood plans, and I have scoured the Internet with no results in the type of crate you suggest.

    Thank you. Joe


      Joseph, the suggested size is above. And that you cannot buy such crate (yet), only kennels. Hence why I always built one myself.
      However, did you see what simple thing I built for my puppy earlier? So you clearly don't need money to build a nice crate place: my total outlay was about $10 for two thin pieces of "wood" (to protect the walls) and the hinges that connect them. :-)

      Then your puppy and adult dog will have all the place he needs: Freedom to stretch out. BUT: Note that such simplicity requires that you immediately put effort into House Training, or at the very least potty training.

      My pup was much smaller initially, so for the moments when I needed him safe (and my stuff safe!) I placed him in a cardboard box I had from moving. :grin:
      I documented all visually in My New Puppy Diary.


        Tim, Thanks for the encouragement and great info. I can't seem to see or find the crate dimensions that you said 'were above'. Length, height, width. I'd like to build the crate this week before I receive Thor.


        Yes Joseph, I only wrote "The size of the dog crate is large enough for a German Shepherd to turn around, to fully stretch out, and of course to stand up (because the crate has no roof!)" because GSD size varies quite a bit, as you maybe saw already in another Periodical.
        "The above dog crate is also suitable if you have a GSD puppy, regardless of age. ...."

        So, don't feel fixated on L*W*H dimensions, that's pointless because then your focus is on restricting the dog's chance to fully stretch out as an adult dog (another disadvantage of kennels for sale). Why don't you make it open like I described I did, or at least on one side open (and then obviously wide enough) ?

        Anyway, Miguel's crate place was in a living room corner, thus two sides open. I'd guess the dimensions of that space (basically wall protection, lol) was about 120*100cm (but I may be wrong). For him it was purely a voluntary crate place, no restrictions at all (and certainly no lock). :-)


    Oh, ok. Got it. Thanks Tim.


    Hi Tim,
    I hope everything is well with you. My dog Jordan, now three years old (I cant believe it), has never been crated, kenneled, or restricted in any way. She was housetrained in no time (thank you!!) and has always had free run of the house. As far as sleeping quarters are concerned, she has beds everywhere and sleeps in none of them! She has been allowed to pick her own spots and when a bed was put there, she dragged them away. Her favorite spot anywhere is where I am. If we are in the living room, she lies next to the couch at my feet, or on the slate in front of the fireplace. If I am at the computer, she will sometimes lie on her bed there, or she is at my feet. In the kitchen, she will lie at the doorway to the back yard. At night at bed time she will start out on the floor next to my bed, but she will eventually sleep on the landing between the upstairs and downstairs, where she can easily keep track of the bedrooms and the front door at the same time. I have put a bed there on numerous occasions, but she will always drag it away and the cat will wind up sleeping on it! I have never seen her try to "den" anywhere. When she was a pup, I tried to make her sleeping place in a corner behind a chair so she could feel secure as if she were in a den, but she would have none of it! I guess you never know! I guess her "safe" place is her home~ she is comfortable anywhere here. I do so enjoy your periodicals Tim. I find them all very informative, and in the past three years you have saved my sanity too many times to count. As always, thanks!


      Thanks so much, Maureen! We still have no power (nor running water), hence why I can rarely post sth and DO sth. It's really boring after darkness, 12 hours darkness now. Miguel can hold his bladder for 10 hours, that helps, going to bed early.

      And yeah, still no restrictions here either, following your example. :-) He's sleeping freely on his Westpaw nap mat, and underneath Westpaw's blanket, as we still have no floor, just the basement which isn't insulated. But then, for walls there isn't space now anyway. He has to balance between moving boxes, like myself. When we got through inspection (interesting story!), I will "redesign" the boxes layout. I don't think we'll do the interior anytime soon. :mrgreen:

      Yesterday I saw a van with 9 small dogs in a flat cage in the back! They don't value dogs here much: All locked up, or chained. - Like we treat cows and pigs these days, you saw that in the dog food analysis infographic article. Thus we "modern" countries aren't any better, just a bit different yet. :roll:


        I would be interested in hearing your inspection story.(...maybe your next periodical???) I am sure that Miquel is perfectly happy being wherever you are! It stinks though, not having power or running water! I guess you are not living in your mobile home yet. I don't know of one that has a basement!!! I hope things start looking up for you! I give you lots of credit for making something from nothing and keeping your sense of humor. Sometimes things are so hard.
        It is terrible the way we humans treat animals. I always believed that even the least of Gods creatures values its own life as much as any human values theirs. The cruelty that we humans bestow on "lesser" beings is nothing short of criminal in my eyes. It makes my heart hurt to see it. Anyway, thanks again for the work you do for us. You are, as always, in my prayers.

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