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How to Build an Outdoor Dog Bed

A smartly designed outdoor bed is a great place for your pooch to beat the heat.

When the mercury rises, you're not the only one who wants to recline in a shady spot—many dogs do too. "While not every dog seeks out a cool place to relax, it's critical for heavy-set and short-nosed breeds, which can overheat quickly," says Sarah Wilson, author of My Smart Puppy Guide.

Once their body temperature increases, our furry friends regulate it by panting; they can perspire only through their noses and paws. Short-nosed breeds, such as pugs, bulldogs, and Pekingese, can't pant as efficiently as other breeds because of their physiology.

An elevated bed may be just the solution, lifting the dog off the ground so that air can flow below to help him cool down. The addition of a canopy provides shade from the sun's rays—important because dogs can get sunburned. We built the bed shown here using PVC pipe, joints, and couplings for the frame and covered it with all-weather fabric (Sunbrella's Manhattan Cobalt, about $32 per yard; for retailers). With a perch this comfy, you won't have to entice your pet to sit and stay awhile.

If your pet likes extra cushioning, add a pillow: Dog Gone Smart Rectangle Bed, about $99.

Download and print the cut list.

Step 1: Overview, Cut List & Shopping List

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Cut List for Building an Outdoor Dogbed

Download and print the cut list.

(All pipe: Schedule 40 PVC)

Bed frame

  • 1¼-inch pipe: two @ 32¾ inches for the frame front and back
  • 1¼-inch pipe: two @ 25½ inches for the frame sides
  • 1¼-inch pipe: four @ 5 inches for the feet
  • Canopy
  • ½-inch pipe: two @ 33¾ inches for the frame front and back
  • ½-inch pipe: two @ 24 inches for the frame sides
  • ¾-inch pipe: two @ 21 inches for the canopy posts
  • 1¼-inch pipe: two @ 2¾ inches for the coupling fittings
  • ½-inch pipe: two @ 1½ inches for the coupling fittings

Shopping List

Bed frame; canopy frame and posts

  • 1¼-inch pipe for the bed frame. Get 5 feet.
  • ½-inch pipe for the canopy frame. Get 5 feet.
  • ¾-inch pipe for the canopy posts. Get 5 feet.

Bed-frame fittings

  • 1¼-inch three-way side elbow. Get two.
  • 1¼-inch four-way side-outlet tee. Get two.

Canopy frame fittings

  • ½-inch side-outlet elbows. Get two.
  • ½-inch 90-degree elbows. Get two.

Canopy posts

  • 1¼-inch coupling. Get two.
  • 1¼-by-1-inch reducer bushing. Get two.
  • ¾-inch coupling. Get two.
  • ¾-by-½-inch reducing coupling. Get two.

Awning fabric.

  • 2 yards from a 46-inch bolt
  • Washer-head screws
  • Heat-fused hem tape
  • Adhesive-backed Velcro

Step 2: Assemble the Parts

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Using a miter saw or a handsaw, cut all the pipe parts to size.

Step 3: Make the Bed Frame

Photo by Wendell T. Webber
  • Use the two three-way side elbows to connect the front pipe, with one outlet facing down for the feet.
  • Use the two four-way side-outlet tees to connect the back pipe.
  • Connect the front and back with the side pipes, forming a large rectangle.

Step 4: Attach the Legs

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Insert all the foot pieces into the downward-facing outlets of the elbows and tees.

Step 5: Assemble the Canopy Posts

Photo by Wendell T. Webber
  • Connect the short 1¼-inch pipe to one end of the 1¼-inch coupling, then insert the 1¼-inch reducer bushing into the other end.
  • Now insert a ¾-inch coupling followed by the post pipes.
  • Cap the top with a ¾-inch reducing coupling and insert a short length of ½-inch pipe.
  • Repeat for the second post.

Step 6: Attach the Posts to the Frame

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Insert the bases of the posts into the upward-facing outlets of the bed frame's tees.

Step 7: Make the Canopy Frame

Photo by Wendell T. Webber
  • Use the back pipe to connect two ½-inch side-outlet elbows, leaving the extra outlet facing up.
  • Connect two ½-inch 90-degree elbow fittings using the front pipe. Insert the side pipes, forming a rectangle.

Step 8: Attach the Canopy Frame

Photo by Wendell T. Webber
  • With a helper, hold the canopy frame above the bed frame with the side-outlet elbows facing down, over the tops of the posts.
  • Join each fitting to a post to complete the bed-with-canopy frame.

Step 9: Fit the Bed Fabric

Photo by Wendell T. Webber
  • Separate the bed frame from the canopy frame and posts, and center it upside down on top of a 36-by-46-inch piece of awning fabric.
  • Fold in the corners of the fabric so that the edges line up neatly around the bend of the front elbow fittings and the side outlets of the four-way back tees.

Step 10: Fasten the Fabric to the Bed

Photo by Wendell T. Webber
  • Beginning along the front pipe, fold the fabric edge over twice, leaving about a ½-inch finished edge.
  • Pull the fabric taut over the pipe, and fasten the center with a washer-head screw.
  • Repeat outward along the edge.

Step 11: Tighten the Fabric

Photo by Wendell T. Webber
  • On the opposite side, fold the fabric edge, pull it taut, and screw it down once in the center of the pipe.
  • Using tongue-and-groove pliers, grip the back pipe between its center and end and rotate the pipe toward the center, stretching the awning fabric as tight as possible.
  • Secure the fabric to the frame with screws every 2 inches, and repeat on the sides.

Step 12: Attach the Fabric to the Canopy

Photo by Wendell T. Webber
  • Place a protective drop cloth over your work surface. Remove the canopy frame from the posts and center it upside down on top of a rolled-out piece of fabric.
  • Using heat-fused hem tape, fold the cut edges over the tape. Iron the seams to make finished edges.
  • Create each awning flap by cutting out a square section from each corner of the fabric.
  • Fold over and finish the edges with the tape.
  • Adhere strips of adhesive-backed Velcro along the tops of the frame pipes and the underside of the awning fabric.
  • Reattach the canopy frames to the posts.

Tools: