How to Create a Dog Friendly Backyard

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My daughter just got a puppy. Let me tell you, make sure your yard is dog friendly before you decide to get a dog. Puppies chew on everything. They dig, they romp, and they love to run. If you're getting a dog, now is the time to prepare your yard for a new arrival. Even if you've had your best friend for a while, you can still fix up your yard to make it a dog paradise.

Think Like Your Dog: The Fun Stuff

When considering what you're going to change about your yard, think like your dog would. If you were a dog, where in the yard is the first place you would want to go? If it’s sunny and hot outside, you would head for a shady location. If it’s cool and dry, you’d want a comfy corner to laze around in. If you want to bark with the neighbor dog, you would want an easily accessible, high place to sit and gander.

Water: A Place to Cool Off

Most dogs love water. A kiddie pool or a small pond, just deep enough to cool off the paws, is a fun and great addition to any yard. On hot days they will love to lay down in it and cool off.

Running Path: Protect Their Paws

Once you've had your dog for a while, you'll notice they walk the same path around the yard just about every time they go out. So how about creating a mulch path for them? It will serve two purposes. One, it will cover the worn-out grass. Two, it creates a nice soft path for padded feet. Just stay away from cocoa bean mulch. It smells good and they will want to eat it, but it's harmful to dogs.

Tunnel: A Place to Run and Hide

Have you ever watched a dog show? Dogs love to run through tunnels. You could get a kids' collapsible tunnel made of nylon, or you could get creative and make one out of lumber and tarps. Better yet, bend lattice into the shape of a tunnel and grow vines on it. It’s not only a fun place for your dog, but it can be a great addition to your landscape. It also creates a shady area, which works great if you don’t have any trees in the yard.

Sand Box: Controlled Digging

Dogs like to dig. Give them an opportunity to do that without damaging any other part of the yard. How? Give them their own sandbox to dig in. Make it deep enough (about two feet deep) and put up some high sides, because they will get sand all over if you don’t.

High Places: A New View of the World

Believe it or not, dogs like high places, just like cats, to look at the world from a different angle. Create a mound for your dog to perch on--just don’t make it too close to the fence since they may try to jump over.

Think Like an Owner: The Not-So Fun Stuff

Fencing: Protection and Safety

A fence is good protection both from the inside and outside world. A fence not only keeps your dog in a safe, confined area, but it also keeps unwanted animals out of the yard. If your fence is a solid panel, consider putting in a couple of Plexiglass windows. Dogs are curious creatures and will want to know what --or who-- is on the other side.

Bugs: Keep the Grass Short

Fleas and ticks can also cause great harm to animals, so protect your dog from them. Treat the lawn with non-toxic repellent and use a veterinarian-approved flea and tick repellant right on your dog. Another way to keep insect infestation down is to keep your grass cut short (three inches tall or less).

Digging: Stop Access to Escape Routes

If your dog likes to dig, put rocks around the edge of the fence, at least two feet out. Your dog will find it too hard on his feet to dig in rocks and they won't be able to escape under the fence.

Plants: Know What's Harmful

Be careful what you plant. There are many plants that are dangerous for dogs. And as I told you before, dogs will chew on anything, especially if they are bored. Some plants that are dangerous for dogs include: azaleas, elephant ears, black walnuts, daffodils, and fox gloves. Make sure you check with your garden center as to which plants are safe for your pet.

There are a lot more things you could do if you put your mind to it. Every dog has their own personality, so make the yard match that personality. You can use all of the above ideas, or incorporate them a little at a time. Either way, your dog friendly yard will be the envy of all the dogs in the neighborhood and they will all want to come over and play.