The Latest in Kennel Design
By Nikki Alvin-Smith

The Latest in Kennel Design

Whether you want a kennel in the backyard for your beloved family pets or operate a business that involves canine care, the design of the structure you choose will greatly affect the health of its occupants. Factors to consider include waste removal, climate control, electric and water, and exercise space.

All dogs, regardless of their value, deserve a safe secure space to live. Today’s modern kennel design makes caring for the dogs less time consuming and provide a healthier environment than archaic cold concrete boxes. 

An increasing number of professionals, from government agencies such as the TSA, to rescue organizations and breeders, are turning to the convenience of a modular or prefabricated kennel. Their keen realization that purchasing a kennel is not just about the initial cost but also about the quality and design of the build with features such as continuous channel drains, polyurea coated seamless floors, heat and AC options is testament to the fact that the cheapest kennel is not necessarily the best building to buy in the long run.

Heating and Cooling

We spoke with Jill Siragusa, Chief Marketing Officer at leading manufacturer of commercial kennels Horizon Structures, based in Atglen, PA to find out what their 2020 line up of kennels looks like and what features are on offer. Shipment of both their residential and commercial kennel lines is available nationwide, and their designs incorporate elements to suit every climate and every need.

CH: One of the daily chores perhaps most disliked by kennel owners is the clean up of the kennel. Can you tell us what Horizon Structures has developed in their kennel designs to deal with dog waste?

Jill: We’ve perfected our designs over the years and have welcomed input from many canine professionals including vets, trainers and breeders. Obviously hygiene is of utmost importance for the health of the dogs, and there are several components in our kennels that ensure easy and effective clean up.

Our kennel floors are of sturdy construction and are insulated to prevent moisture seeping in from the ground. We add a tough polyurea coating across the entire floor and most importantly, also down and through the drain channel. As it is seamless it has no cracks or crevices to trap dirt or waste. Drains are not placed in the center of the dog boxes but at the exterior wall of the box, and are continuous channel drains that empty to the end of the building where they can be connected to a sewer pipe so all water and contaminants can be drained away. This helps keep parasites in the environment to a minimum. We strongly recommend adding our optional stainless steel/channel drain for the interior of the dog boxes.

Drain Channel

Our outdoor runs are constructed of a composite decking material so liquid will drain through the spaces between the boards and run off. Solid waste should be picked up and removed.

CH: What sort of base should the kennel sit on?

Jill: We generally recommend gravel base as it encourages drainage. Some clients prefer a concrete pad and in that case we offer an upgrade of a similar drainage system to the interior design. We raise the floors of the runs to accommodate a wash down tray beneath the entire length of the kennel, that can be hosed off so that water runs off at the end of the building on each side. This water can then be removed away from the building via a sewer pipe or other drainage method.

Washdown Tray

The floor of the run can be made with tenderfoot wiring to ensure the space is easy to clean and the dogs are kept dry and comfortable.

Tenderfoot Wiring

CH: What do you suggest people use for cleaning?

Jill: Our floors clean easily with soap and water or a cleaner of your choice. We recommend Simply Green Pro-5 as a non-toxic brand that works well. A stiff brush can be used to scrub down the floor and regular cleaning obviously makes life easier, with regular spot cleaning and periodic deep cleans.

CH: I was interested to read in your online digital brochure that dogs should ideally be housed at between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and puppies at a slightly warmer temperature. You have a lot of great information on dog care both on your website and at Flipsnack. Could you tell us how Horizon Structures kennels manage climate control in the kennels?

Jill: Insulation, ventilation, both passive and mechanical, and heater/AC units are the key components to manage and control temperature within the kennel. The extension of the roof of the kennel over the runs, also protects the dogs from the heat of the sun and adverse weather such as rain, snow and wind.

Our kennels are insulated with a spray foam installed under the floor. Radiant heat can be added if needed. A lot of our breeders like that option. The walls and ceiling are also insulated with a R-13 bat.

Passive ventilation is accomplished with gable vents, soffit vents and screened windows and ceiling fans can be added to help move air. Given you take the electrical package on your kennel purchase we can add wall mounted exhaust fans to the gable end of the kennel with a thermostat control. You can also choose from a variety of heater/AC options to service all our kennels sizes both large and small and we place units on the wall not in a window, so fresh air and light is not diminished within the kennel.

CH: What would you say is the hot favorite design feature when it comes to buying a kennel?

Jill: Folks love our lobby space option. It is not too much extra price-wise to incorporate it into a kennel design and it is obviously extremely useful to have.
When you include a hose port within the structure it makes a great area for grooming, bathing and pet care, and many of our clients make it their office.


CH: Aside from the convenience that a modular or prefab kennel provides over a pole built or stick built building, what other reasons do you hear for people choosing modular?

Jill: We hear many different reasons but probably the most common is just the ease of the ‘instant’ kennel that arrives and is set up so quickly and ready to go to work. We recently had a noted animal clinic, Helen Woodward in California, that had purchased a kennel from us for temporary housing during their renovation and rebuild, move it to another rescue organization for their use afterward. So mobility of the units is also an attractive feature. On a recent call a prospective client was very excited to learn he could have a kennel delivered rather than built on site, as he lives in the city and is not allowed to build a permanent structure. He said he could not wait to get his 5 standard poodles out of his house to save the housework that their hair and mess makes of his home.

New Design Dog Kennel with Runs

CH: I am sure that as well as all the positive comments you receive regarding your modern design kennels you also receive some negative ones too. Can you share any with us?

Jill: Yes. That’s true. Of course it is difficult to please everyone when it comes to price. We offer a quality product at a fair price, but not everyone appreciates that all kennels are not created equal. All the materials and craftsmanship of our kennels are top quality, and we don’t attempt to compete with flimsy box store creations when it comes to canine care. Our clients want a truly safe, secure and comfortable, cleanable environment for the dogs.

It’s also important for folks to realize that our kennels are all customizable. So for example, if you want a wider aisleway, a larger dog box or run, or if you want a set up with kennels just down one long side rather than facing each other, all these things are possible. Different types of business have different needs, and individual clients all have preferences when it comes to everything from the color of the building to the number of entrance doors and how the space is divided. We can accommodate every need and our Project Manager Merv King, our resident kennel expert provides a lot of guidance throughout the purchasing process to ensure that we deliver just what the customer wants.
Our designs are driven by input from many sources, medical professionals to present day clients. We appreciate all feedback and take it on board, and love to hear from our customers and to share their news. Our case study page is very popular for folks looking for a bit of inspiration.

New Design Kennels

CH: What if I only have a couple of dogs and I am not interested in a commercial grade kennel. Do your residential kennels have similar features and options?

Jill: Yes. We appreciate everybody wants the best for their dogs and many of the features we offer come standard in the residential styles too.

The best kennel designs will consider the health and the comfort of the canine first, and offer their human caregivers smart solutions to optimize the level of their care and welfare. The benefit of a modern day kennel for both homeowner and business owner versus the cold, dark buildings of yesteryear are evident. For a business owner the appeal for their clients of a first class canine abode will be a boost, and for the pet owner the option to place their pooches in a safe and secure environment while they are out on errands or when family comes to visit, can save much aggravation with ‘accidents’ in the house or damage caused by destructive behavior.

Take a look at what’s on offer at Horizon Structures. And don’t forget to check the Lot Liquidations page  for special offers and tell them we sent you!