Nobody understands the luxury of having a backyard quite like dog parents. Enough space for a barbecue grill and a couple of lawn chairs is great, but it’s even better if your furry friend has a space of his very own to romp and run.
Whether you’ve got a spacious sprawl or a tiny patch of grass, there are plenty of things you can do to transform your space into a pet paradise. Follow these tips for a backyard your dog will drool over:
Dogs will be dogs. Even if you trust yours implicitly, it’s crucial that you have a fence around your yard for safety—both to keep your dog inside, and to keep other animals out. Make sure it’s high enough that your pup can’t jump over it, and if necessary, install protection underneath to keep him from digging his way out. If your dog is a barker, consider fencing that he can’t see through.
Most dogs love lying in the sun on a warm summer day, but dehydration, heatstroke, and sunburn are all very real risks. If you don’t have any naturally occurring shady spots, invest in an overhead tarp or shade cloth. Most range from just $50-$100 and provide an easy way to set up a cool oasis where your dog can go to escape the sun’s rays. A doghouse is another great option. Make sure to keep fresh water available in the shady spot, and replace it often to ensure it’s cool and bug-free. Go a step further and get the FroBo ($30). It has a non-toxic gel core you stick in the freezer and then fill with fresh water, which keeps your dog’s H2O nice and cold.
Can you imagine what a rose would smell like if you had as many scent receptors as your pooch? Dogs can certainly appreciate flora, but be wise about what you plant—many common flowers (including lilies, daffodils, and azaleas) are potentially toxic to our canine friends. The ASPCA has a comprehensive list of dangerous plants and flowers, so consult online before you start digging. Be sure to use pet-friendly mulch as well, as some—such as cocoa bean mulch—can be poisonous if your pet ingests it.
The yard will be a much more pleasant space for you and your dog to spend time in if it isn’t covered in waste. Mark off a specific area that is just for “calls of nature” and encourage your dog to only go potty there. Having clearly defined boundaries will help your dog know where the spot is, so partition if off with a little fence (it doesn’t have to be tall), large rocks, or some shrubbery. You can even put in a fake red fire hydrant to make the spot extra enticing for business.
Dogs love to dig, which is bad news for your lawn. So set up a specific spot where she can dig to her heart’s content. Fill it with sand or soft soil, and let her search for China begin! If you’ve got a heavy digger who just won’t stick to one area, you may want to try sprinkling a natural deterrent such as cayenne pepper on the areas you want your dog to stay away from. A more permanent solution is artificial grass, which has the added benefit of always being bright green, easy to clean, and never needing to be mowed—making it a win-win for everyone.
Quality time spent outdoors is great for your dog and gives him ample opportunities to sniff, discover, and explore. Don’t leave your dog outside alone for extended periods of time though—we all need to relax in the air conditioning. if you can, install a doggie door so that Fido can go in and out at his leisure. It might take some work, but designing a backyard suited to your dog’s needs will be more than worth it in the end.
What’s a dog’s dream backyard without the perfect toys? Here are four of our top picks for backyard play: