Whether your dog prefers to spend time hanging out in the backyard or they are a couch potato who only goes out when it is sunny, having a dog-friendly backyard is a must. While they might spend more time inside than out, dogs need to be able to spend time outside, too. If you have a backyard for your dog, transforming it into a space where they can have fun and be safe is a great idea. In this article, we will look at some ideas for making your backyard more comfortable for your dogs.
Evaluate Your Landscape
Before you get started transforming your yard into an oasis for your dog, take some time to evaluate your current landscape. What is currently growing in your backyard? Are all of the plants safe for dogs? Do you have any areas that collect standing water? How is your fence looking?
Make sure you remove any plants that are not safe for a dog to consume. If there are any areas with standing water, make sure you fix them. Are there any holes or rough-looking areas in your fence? Make sure you get it properly repaired. Then, make sure you do not have any potential hazards lurking in your yard. Once you get rid of the hazards, you can focus on making your backyard into an oasis where your dogs will love hanging out.
Ensure an Accessible, Clean Water Source
When it is sunny outside, a dog can get dehydrated easily. If you want to keep it simple, you can make sure they have a bowl that is regularly changed and monitored to ensure it is not left standing long enough for mosquitoes to begin breeding. If possible, look for a little fountain that your dogs can drink from that will keep the water moving.
For dogs who love water, a little pond or pool could be a fun addition to your yard, too, where they can play. Just make sure that the pond or pool is set up safely. Your dogs need to be able to get in and out of it easily, and it should be shallow enough for them to stand in. The most affordable option is an inflatable kiddie pool, but it might not last too long if your pup has sharp nails.
Update Your Landscaping
Some of the most commonly planted flowers are quite dangerous for a dog to consume. Some of the most poisonous plants for dogs to consume include:
This is just a small sampling of the plants that can be toxic to your dogs. Look for the full list of toxic plants and make sure that you have any of them removed from your yard to protect your pups. Unfortunately, your dog may not realize that a plant is bad for them and might munch on it anyway, so it is up to us humans to ensure that they do not have access.
There are also landscaping materials that can be harmful to your dogs. Cocoa mulch is often picked because it smells great, but if your dog eats it, they can become as sick from that as they would from eating a bar of chocolate.
There are also many different baits for dealing with pests that can be toxic to your dogs, so it is important to look for ones that will not hurt them.
Get a Safe Fence
You want to ensure that your dogs are not going to be able to jump the fence and escape. While a chain link fence is usually the most affordable option, it is not the safest option for most dogs. Ideally, you want to have a wooden fence because some dogs are climbers, and they can climb up a chain link fence. It should be at least six feet tall, which will prevent most dog breeds from being able to jump, though if you have a breed known for jumping fences, like a German shepherd or a Greyhound, you should definitely get a higher fence if you can.
You also want to ensure there are not any gaps in your fence that your dog can squeeze through to get out. The final check is to see how easy it is for your pup to tunnel under the fence to escape, especially if you have a small dog breed that is known for escaping that way.
It is also important to keep in mind that some dogs are too smart for their own good. If you have gates in your fence, make sure that you add something to open and close them that requires thumbs. An overly intelligent dog can nose open a gate without too much of a hassle and escape to play in the neighborhood, which is not safe. As an added safety measure, you can have an alarm or notification go off when your gate is opened, so you will know if your dog is trying to escape or if someone else is trying to get into your yard.
Set Up Space To Play
You want to make sure that your dog is getting the play and exercise time that they need, so make sure to set up some space for them to run around and play. Offer them as much space to roam as you possibly can and set up toys for them to enjoy while outside. Since they love to roam and explore, you can even give your dogs some paths to follow while they roam the yard. This alone will give them something that keeps them entertained.
Spend some time looking at obstacle courses for dogs and gain inspiration from those. You can create little tunnels for your dog to wander through, obstacles they can jump and play on or weave through and other fun features. Since you are trying to make your backyard dog friendly, why not go all out? Turn part of the play space into a fun obstacle course.
Another fun feature you can add to your backyard for your dog is a sandbox. If your pup is a digger, giving them a safe place to dig is a great idea. You can even bury little toys in the sand for them to dig up, making it into a game. Of course, you will need to replace the sand from time to time, but the amount of entertainment your dog can get from it will be well worth the time spent.
Provide Shade and Shelter
Dogs can get overheated pretty easily, so offering them some shade is crucial to their health and safety. If you have large trees that offer shade, you are probably safe. However, you should also consider adding a permanent structure to the yard, too. You can hang up some tarps if you need a quick and affordable way to add shade. You can also have a small, carport-type structure in the yard if there is space; a steel carport is an excellent method to adding shade. A doghouse is also a great addition, but be careful to find one that is actually cool because many of the plastic ones available in stores tend to trap heat and can make it even worse for a dog.
Use Material That’s Comfortable To Walk On
When you set up your yard for your dog, make sure that the landscaping materials you select are comfortable to walk on. You want things that will not get too hot or cling to the bottom of their feet. You can use flagstone, concrete, pebbles, brick, or even smooth rocks are great choices. However, make sure that they have some sort of shade on hot days so the ground does not burn your dog’s feet. Small bark chips and other types of mulch other than cocoa mulch are pretty soft on your dog’s feet, too, and it should not heat up like stone types of ground cover will; however, this material will need to be replaced sometimes.
Lawns are one of the most common choices, but keep in mind how easily grass can get destroyed by a rambunctious dog’s nails, and once the grass is gone, it can be hard to bring in new grass. One option that is lawn-adjacent and is becoming more popular is artificial turf because you can enjoy the look of your lawn without your dog’s nails tearing it up. Make sure that if you choose to use turf, it is one that will not get too hot in the summer.