Dogs | June 30, 2020

Building a Dog-Friendly (and Fun) Backyard

Building a Dog-Friendly (and Fun) Backyard

Aaaah, summer! Long, lazy days and warm evenings increasingly draw us outdoors to enjoy the natural world, fresh air and warmth. There are many features that can be added to your backyard to make your property safe and more appealing for everyone who has the pleasure of enjoying it.
Here are a few things to consider that will keep your dog safe and happy.

Safety first

  • Check that your fences and gates are in good condition to ensure that your canine buddy stays at home. Winter weather may have loosened posts or planks or wild critters may have dug under the fence, creating a potential escape route for your pooch.

Walk the perimeter of your yard and ensure that everything is in good order.

  • Fire pits and swimming pools can be potential hazards for your pets if they get too close or fall in. Puppies are especially curious about these things, so ensure that there is a way to keep your dog at a safe distance, at least initially, until they understand that they shouldn’t get too close.
  • Give serious thought to the products you use in any garden areas. Toxin-free landscaping can be a challenge, but has to be a consideration when trying to make your yard pet-safe. Cocoa mulch is toxic to dogs, as are many commonly-used plants. Do your research and plan any garden areas accordingly.

Read More: Poisonous Plants for Dogs & Cats

Dog-friendly surfaces

Most dogs prefer the coolness and comfort of lawns when it comes to their ‘outside’ time. Grass surfaces are easy on the body and feet, especially in very hot weather. Although there is an increasing trend to the use of artificial turf in some landscaping, the comfort level may not be the same for your dog – it won’t be as cool or soft as natural lawn, and may begin to show wear and tear with repeated use. Outdoor areas comprised of smooth stones , bricks or concrete can also be considered. They will throw off more warmth and may appeal more to heat-loving dogs.

Basics for your dog-friendly backyard

  • Shade – Be sure to provide some sort of shade for your dog so that he can escape from the heat when need be. Trees and shrubs are the obvious answer, but if your yard lacks these consider installing some shade cloth. A comfortable dog house can also offer relief from the elements.
  • Water – Provide plenty of fresh water so your dog can stay hydrated.
  • A Place to Relax – You might also want to consider a comfortable raised mesh bed. These beds will get your pet off the ground and allow for better air circulation to help keep him cool on very hot days.

Read More: Heat Stroke in Dogs

And now for the fun stuff!

While many dogs will be content to just hang out with their people while in the yard, there are a number of features you could install that will keep your pooch entertained and out of trouble. It can be a lot of fun just watching your dog have fun himself!

  • Open Space – If your yard is large enough, an open play space where you can toss balls or plastic discs will give your dog some exercise and entertainment. It will also give you an opportunity to engage his mind . Mental exercise is as good as physical workouts when it comes to keeping a dog’s energy levels in check.
  • Sandbox – If your dog likes to dig, give some thought to purchasing a child’s sandbox, filling it with sand and then hiding toys in it to encourage him to entertain himself. This will be preferable to having him churn up your garden. Make sure that you also have a cover for the sandbox to discourage neighbourhood cats from using it as a litter box.
  • Agility Course – Agility equipment can provide hours of entertainment for you and your dog. Tunnels, jumps, balance beams and weave poles are all readily available on-line. You can teach your canine buddy how to use them and – who knows – maybe one day compete in agility trials.
  • Water Feature – Most dogs love playing in water. You can keep it as simple as a hose and nozzle with varying sprays, or a sprinkler. Or, you can install a water feature that will be a nice addition for both you and your dog.

If you decide to go this route, however, be sure that your pooch will be able to get out of the water feature if he falls in – consider either shallow stairs or a design with gently sloping sides.

  • Pool Time – Paddling pools for children can be an inexpensive and fun way to supply a water feature for your dog, as well as supplying a place for him to flop down and cool his entire body.
  • Window Watching – If you have solid wood fencing on your property you might want to consider installing a small, dog-height ‘window’ that will allow your canine buddy to watch the world go by while still staying safe. Many dogs will entertain themselves for hours just watching the comings and going in their neighbourhoods.

With a little ingenuity and forethought staying close to home in the summertime can be fun for both you and your dog. Enjoy!