For dog lovers, designing the perfect pet-friendly backyard is like choosing furniture for a baby’s nursery. Sure, there is a budget, but it is easy to overspend for a beloved member of the family. You easily get carried away in the excitement. But, the perfect yard does not have to be expensive. It only has to be well designed. By taking into account what your dog really needs and what will make your pet happy, you can create the perfect backyard for the day you bring your new best friend home for the first time on any budget.
How Much Space is enough?
Space is always a great thing for dogs and the more you can provide the better. But, a huge yard is not necessary to provide your dog a safe, healthy, and stimulating environment. If you must limit the amount of space dedicated to the canine area, go with a long and narrow space instead of a square shape. Dogs need to run occasionally to get enough exercise. A long enclosure allows them to get up to speed.
If your yard is very small, it can still serve as a canine paradise. Exercise can be tackled in other ways, such as daily walks.
Fencing for Fido
Many homeowners struggle when deciding the type of fencing to use in their yard, especially when it is necessary to contain a dog. The important thing to remember is that most dogs are very athletic. Short fences will not keep them in. And, they are escape artists. They will find every weakness in your design and exploit every gap left open.
A six-foot fence will keep all but the most gymnastic of dogs where you want them; inside the yard. Make sure no sheds or boxes are close enough for your pet to use to escape. Also, pay attention to the gate and make sure your dog cannot force it to open or manipulate the hasp. If you cannot build a fence, find the best invisible dog fence for your purposes and install it according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
Vegetation and Clutter
Dogs are hard on plants so choose your landscaping carefully. To keep the dust down, consider a ground cover for the majority of the space. Grass works well. Some homeowners opt for artificial turf for a low maintenance option but it can be expensive initially. Whatever you choose should be comfortable for your dog to play on, without upsetting you if it becomes discolored or torn apart occasionally. After all, dogs will be dogs. That’s why we love them.
Some plants can be harmful to pets so make sure you do your research before planting. Here is a partial list of toxic plants to avoid when designing your pet’s playground.
Landscaping in a pet area should be minimal and easy to maintain. Your dog will gravitate to any area left cluttered with debris. Unfortunately, these are the places pests like fleas and tick live. Or worse, that pile of sticks and leaves might be hiding a snake’s den.
Shade is Critical
No matter the size, every yard meant to contain a dog needs to provide at least one spot in the shade during the hottest part of the day. Dogs do not regulate temperature well and are prone to heat related illnesses when left in the summer sun for hours on end.
Shaded areas are easy to build and shouldn’t break the bank. A simple dog house can be built from scrap wood from other projects if you are handy. If not, a tarp suspended from posts will do the trick although extreme wind might make maintenance higher than desired.
Make Sure to Include Water
Every pet-friendly environment includes a water source. These can range from a simple bowl to elaborate ponds and waterfalls. It just depends on your budget. If you are hesitant to build an entire canine water park, affordable options exist that serve the same purpose without taking out a second mortgage.
Pond liners can be used to create easy water features your dog will love to splash around in. Even a kiddie pool will do in the middle of the summer. Just remember to change the water regularly so mosquitoes don’t also take a dip in the pool.
Pathways Through the Yard
Even the best-behaved dogs will eventually wear a path through your yard and ruin your carefully planted landscape. If you build paths when the grass is newly planted, your pet will be less likely to create one elsewhere. Dry creek beds filled with river stones work great, and they can serve double duty as erosion barriers if your yard is on a slope.
Dogs love to run by fences so consider a path along the inside that runs around the entire perimeter of your yard. Usually three feet is wide enough to accommodate Fido. Pet-friendly mulch can be used for cover and it looks great. As an added bonus, mowing will become easier with the addition of this warning track.
Don’t Forget the Facilities
A major drawback to keeping a dog in your yard is the inevitable cleanup of messes that go along with pet ownership. By including a sand box and training your dog to use it, you can keep the mess down and make clean up a breeze. Most dogs can be trained quickly to use a designated area when nature calls, but if you don’t clean it regularly they will move on to other places.
Fun Should Be Included
Bored dogs bark and dig more often than pets who are engaged and stimulated. Including fun activities in your yard will reduce the amount of damage your pet causes and leave you with a dog who is happy and well adjusted. Balls and ropes left around the yard are weatherproof and provide easy entertainment for active dogs. Small ramps and obstacles are other sources of activity your dog can use when you are away. The key is to keep your pet busy so anxiety does not grow and cause constant attempts at escape.
Great backyards for dogs do not have to be elaborate creations requiring a landscape architect and a big budget. So long as the basic needs of your pet are addressed, your dog will thrive in the environment you create.