From Dean Dowd on July 17, 2008 in General Remodel
Most pet owners are busy people, and the more members in the family, the harder it can be to find enough time to run or walk the dog. So finding ways to give Fido freedom without sending him out into the street has become an important mission to many homeowners. Some homeowners even incorporate pets into their remodel designs. But for most, a dog run is sufficient to allow their dogs the fresh air they need and a place to exercise and “do their duty.”
Dog runs are typically just enclosed spaces in the yard where the dog can relax and run.
Sometimes the dog has access to the inside of the house, via a pet door. There are a few important considerations when conceiving a dog run. Keeping the dogs and the ground dry is the most common issue that arises for dog owners with runs.
Prepare Adequate Ground Cover
Logically, when the dog is penned up in a certain area, the ground will become trampled and compacted and, if steps are not taken, very muddy on rainy days. So while a good, and adequately tall, fence is vital, the material you use to cover the ground in the dog run is of the utmost importance. There are several ideas out there regarding this one. Sand, wood chips, pea gravel, and stone pavers are all popular choices. Much depends on how much time the dog will spend in the run and your dog’s individual personality.
- Pavers can be bad on their feet if they are to spend all day in the enclosure.
- Pea gravel is great for keeping the ground ‘soft’ and free of mud, but some dogs are prone to eating the small rocks, so be wary.
- Wood chips are a good choice but will tend to decompose over time and you’ll have to add more every once in a while.
- Sand is another option. It is cheaper than bark or wood chips but much heavier to move around.
The Question of Plants Many people would like to keep plants in the dog run, but this is usually not a good idea as they are likely to get trampled. Furthermore, many plants are poisonous to dogs, who may eat the leaves or flowers. Keeping plants in pots may be a viable option.
Shade from the Sun
Shelter is another important consideration as dogs will need shade on hot, sunny days. A simple lean-to should suffice (this can be as simple as two 4x8 sheets of plywood on slope to allow water run-off). You can get some heavy duty rubber mats from the local home improvement store to provide a dry place for the dogs to lay down beneath the shelter.
Speaking of water, make sure your roofline has gutters if the dog run is in a side yard or otherwise connected to the house. Also, redirect water flow in the gutters so that no downspouts come out into the dog run.
These are just a few ideas amongst many. Your dog run can be as simple or as fancy as you’d like. If you have a large area for the dogs to run, you could even make a trail using composite decking or deck tiles for the dogs to run, free of mud. Regardless of its complexity, a dog run, complete with shade and some dry space, will keep your dogs happy and you guilt-free on long work days or just those times when you need some time for yourself.