LIFESTYLE

Dog Run Ideas: Improve Your Dog’s Time While in The Run

Dog Run
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Once you made the decision to bring a dog in the home, there are wonderful things that you will envisage about your pet. You would imagine the times when you can pet and play with him in the yard. Some dogs are so cute and funny, they are a bundle of entertainment, jumping about and frolicking, and inviting you to catch them if you can. Simply watching your dog with her antics can be a source of joy and laughter.

A dog however comes with other abilities that are particular to his nature. He will seize every opportunity to run and chase after things, even if they are imaginary. He can get aggressive when he sees others of his kind. Plainly, a dog is a handful and will need some kind of control that at the same time will make him be himself.

A dog run is an innovative idea that can allow a dog to be himself. The run is a fenced off portion of the yard where a dog can run about freely and enjoy doing the things that he does best. Whether you have one dog or a pack, they will enjoy this space provided for them. You will need a dog run for several reasons.

In many instances, dog owners cannot possibly give their dogs all the play time and attention that they need. Dogs are not usually satisfied with only an hour of walk per day. They want to have unrestrained run where they are able to express their energies. A run can mean a reprieve for the owner.

Many find their dog a bit much to handle as they tend to get into a lot of trouble. They will jump the fence and get aggressive with other dogs. Some dogs love to chase down smaller animals and birds. Others will run into the street putting themselves at risk of being hit by vehicles. The dog run is a place where your dog can run about and engage in activities that come natural to him, while he remains safe.

Dog Run Rules

The beauty about establishing a dog run is that it allows you to express your creativity in building one. You will find that you have no limit in what you can include to make both you and your dog happy. Let’s explore some dog run ideas that you can use.

Select a suitable location

To begin with, decide on an area that you are willing to give up to your dog. It should be a place that should be out of the way of regular and social activities. You will not want to have to be moving your dog to entertain. It should be close enough however, that you can check on the dog periodically. A side yard that runs against the house can be a suitable and convenient area to place your dog. You would need only to enclose it at two ends to provide a place your dog can enjoy.

Dog run backyard

Consider the climate in your area. In hot climate for example you will want to select a shaded area where the dog can retreat from the hot sun. The size of the area will be a factor when selecting a dog run. The ideal is for the dog to have a large space, room to run about and play and explore without feeling restricted. A dog that feels restricted will start to exhibit unhealthy behaviors. It is recommended that the run is at least five times the length of the dog and twice as wide.

But make the run as wide and as long as your yard will permit. Choose an area that has good drainage also. Poor drainage may have your dog run muddy and wet, and uncomfortable for both you and the dog.

What is your dog like?

When considering a dog run, you will need to take the personality of your dog into consideration. According to Cohoon (2015), you should think like a dog and discover what his preferences would be. An active, energetic, and rambunctious dog that likes to run the length of your yard chasing everything in sight will demand a longer and more spacious area to be himself. Dogs that have docile and calm temperaments may not need the whole run of the yard. They may be satisfied with just regular yard space enough for exercise.

Consider also the size of the dog. Larger dogs will need more room to maneuver in; and if they are the energetic type, they will need even more space to burn their energy. Smaller dogs, though active, may not need the space that the larger fellows require. What if your dog is a climber? You would have to consider increasing the height of the fencing to make it more challenging to jump over.

Enclosing the dog run

The objective of any enclosure is to create a barrier that keeps the dog in making him safe from outside troubles.  Dog run barriers are an opportunity to get creative. You are not only going to build a fence that is dog friendly, but it will be for your comfort also. It should be aesthetically pleasing and integrate with the décor of your house and surrounding, even if situated in the backyard.

Chain link fencing in dog runs is a very popular choice because it is strong, fairly expensive and durable. This option also allows the dog to see beyond his boundaries which he will thank you for. With the chain link you will also be able to see and check on your dog easily.  To have yards of wire fencing stretching against your backyard however, can be unattractive. The fence may not blend with the background; but there are ways a dog owner can get around this. This is an opportunity to get creative.

Steel fencing

Whittaker (2015) suggests painting the fence. A dark green color will blend in with the lush grass of the lawn or the greenery in the background. If the surrounding area is more of wooden structures and fencing, and the ground is of dirt or sand surface, you could paint the fence brown or a color that would match.

You may take the more natural approach of greening the fence as suggested by Weiss-Roessler (2015). You can plant bush at the base of the fence or plant creepers that will run along the posts. This will create a more natural environment for the dog.

Wooden and ornate metal fencing are practical options also. Ensure that there is enough space between the wood and metal so that the dog can see through but he won’t get his head in.

Many homes have a side yard between the house and the boundary fencing – wooden, ornate metal or wire fence. You can complete this enclosure to create an inexpensive dog run by putting gates at both ends.

Flooring ideas

There are several options for flooring for your dog run. Whichever you are going to chose, consider the maintenance it will require and safety for the dog and you.

Grass – Natural grass is wildly beautiful and a perfect extension to your yard greenery. However romping dogs may create holes with their feet, and continued pounding will only leave brown paths in the run. Cleaning up poop will also put dents into this space.

Artificial grass on the other hand is longer lasting and easier to maintain. Poop is easily removed and urine can be easily rinsed away. You need only to mix one part water to one part vinegar and spray to maintain a fresh environment.

Gravel – This can be a good option and has been quite popular in dog runs. Gravel can provide a cool surface that relieves dogs when it is hot. Pebbles won’t go far either when dogs romp and play in them; they can be shoveled back into place. However, choose round gravel types as opposed to sharp edged ones that could hurt your dog. Gravel is tough flooring and can be bruising on paws that are sensitive.

Dog run floor idea

Paving stone – Although this option can be expensive to install, add some designs when laying down the stones to give an appealing look.   Select stones that are not too smooth as this can cause falls and injuries to your pet. Stones that are too rough can also be bruising to dogs’ feet. You can add grass between stones to help provide traction. Paved stones can become hot on sunny days. So add a tree here or there to provide shade for your pet.

Rubber padding – This can be an expensive flooring option for a dog run. However rubber padding is aesthetically appealing and easy to clean.  Additionally it is quite safe for both your dog and the children.

Create a path to exercise and explore

There is no doubt that dogs love the outdoors. They love to exercise by playing, running and patrolling. For owners who have spacious exteriors and can sacrifice some extra area, you can establish a path where the dog can be comfortable exploring and be himself. Seek out materials that are comfortable to their feet. Concrete, smooth rocks and pebbles are some materials worth looking for. You could also lay wood panels along the path.

Give the path a natural look and feel by making it twist and wind to someplace else.  If your dog had already created a path for himself, do not redirect it. Only seek to enhance what is there. Plant foliage as a screen to hide his run as dogs tend to love having their secret garden (Cohoon).

Ensure shade for your dog

Dogs are animals and like humans, they can suffer from sunburn, heatstroke, and dehydration if exposed to too much heat from the sun. This is especially true of places with warm temperatures. You may already have the advantage of a covered patio, trees, or fences in the area of the dog run. If there is no such provision you may need to consider creating some form of shaded area for your dog to be safe from the sun and to have a more comfortable stay.

Add a dog house

Get creative by placing a dog house at some point inside the run or attach it to the outside of the fence where he can get easy access. Apart from protection from the sun, the dog house will shelter the dog from excessive wind and rain especially in times when you are not at home. Consider also that as much as he loves your house, he will appreciate his alone time in a house that is his own. Be sure to add a pillow where he can rest his head and lie comfortably.

Install a pergola

Pergolas and arbors make appealing entrances. In the dog run they can provide the added benefit of shade for your dog.

Install a pergola

They are easy to make; but if you are not up to it, you can purchase one at a home and garden store. Plant running vines to provide more cover.

A patio umbrella will do

You may have a patio umbrella lying unused somewhere, or opt to purchase one at your home and garden store. You can put it to use by installing it for shade for your dog.

You can seek out other options such as building a roof over the dog run. You can also plant short term growing plants especially climbing vines on both sides of the fencing that will overlap at the top. Your dog will find it a naturally cool place to hang out.

Add a water source

Your dog will need access to clean drinking water. One good idea is to add a self-circulating filtration system that supplies clean fresh water. A simple water bowl will do also. Only ensure that it is cleaned and refilled regularly with fresh clean water. You can use your creativity here in constructing an outdoor water hole that is attached to a hose or connected to the piping system. When times are hot they like to have a splash to cool themselves.

Create a dining area

Your dog will look forward to his meal at dinner time. Create a safe clean area for his meals.

Dining dog

Some owners build a raised stand for their dogs to eat. This method allows the dog to eat at a slower pace, and food does not spill as much when eaten from higher up.

Create a lookout point

Dogs are cute and they know and like to show it. They sometimes like to stand high and view the world around them. Oftentimes it is their curiosity getting the better of them. Amid the shrubbery of their run you can set up a rock, a table or some other platform that they can stand, sit or lie on. You can go further and take pictures of the poses and share them.

Put in a peek-a-boo window

What is a more wonderful idea than to include a viewing window in your pets fencing? Dogs are mighty curious. They will not want to be shut away and not know what is happening beyond their borders. You can satisfy their curiosity by installing a viewing window in the wooden fence. You can create one at your own pleasure or you may purchase one and install it. This is great for dogs that are not heavy barkers, and for heavy chewers and fence jumpers.

Include a potty station

You would not wish that your dog eliminate at any and every place in his run. Set up a do-it-yourself potty station in a corner of the area and teach him to eliminate there. Simply design a rectangular box consisting of small rocks and gravel which you can easily clean by washing with a hose. You can enhance the design and add some privacy to your dog by planting grass around the edges.

Set up marking spots

In the dog run, the dog will be free to do as he pleases. One thing is for certain, he will stake out his territory from very early and establish who he is among the pack.  They can be allowed to set their markings in the place they chose. You can also establish a designated area that will encourage them to go to this location to do their business. Large stones and pieces of driftwood are excellent ideas to assist this activity. Set them strategically so they are inviting to the dogs.

Establish a digging area

Here is an issue that is a sore point with many dog owners. Many breeds are diggers and so often they raze the flower beds or other prized garden plant or ruin precious lawns. You may have lost count of the times you have had to scream at Fido for his antics.

Establish a digging area

The dog run is a good idea to establish boundaries by designating an area where he can dig all he wants. Lay materials such as sand and mulch that they can dig while your yard is protected. Encourage them to dig in this area by burying bones and toys for them to find. On the other hand you can discourage digging behaviors by covering the ground with artificial grass. Ensure that this grass is environmentally-friendly and also dog-friendly.

Games for a dog run

A dog run cannot be complete without toys and play areas.  Dogs will run and exercise by themselves. But they also need the human interaction to maintain that bond and relationship. Here are some play ideas that you can perform with your dog in the run.

Find the treat

The dog will be required to follow obedience commands to perform this activity. Let your dog remain in a stay position while you hide treats in different areas of the run. Give the command for him to go find them. This game is even more interesting when you have three or more dogs vying to find the most treats.

Go find

This is more like the find the treat game but a more advanced version. It constitutes a game of Fetch and obeying the “Stay” command. You will therefore need a ball or other toy for this. Let the dog “stay” while you drop the ball. If he “stay”, release him (you could use “Yes”) to get the ball. Kick the ball even further to let him run and get it.

Give him the command to “stay” again. Throw the ball further and let him wait for the permission to get it. Your dog will soon be waiting on your “yes” each time before diving for the ball.

Go find a ball

Increase the distance to throw the ball at times. Make it a bit more complex by walking about 10 – 15 feet before you drop the ball. Release him to get it. You can even go a bit further by dropping the ball behind a log. Then give him the cue to “Go Find”. Walk farther away, say 50 feet and drop the ball behind the log. Let him find it. Add some trick to the routine. Pretend to drop the ball; then walk about 10 feet and drop it behind a log. Tell him to “Go Find” and watch as he searches the place.

Continue to mix the activity and very soon he will get the idea that he will need to check different places (Blackman, 2010).

Hide and seek

Give the dog the “Wait” command. Then find a place to hide. Call him to come find you. You have to be skillful not to get him to peek.

Tunneling

You can build or purchase a tunnel that your dog and the kids can go through. Dogs love to burrow their way under places and this will be a fun way to channel this behavior.

Conclusion

A dog run can help dog owners to exercise a bit more control over their oftentimes best friend. While it confines the dog to a particular area of the yard, the run is a safe way to protect dogs from harm. In the meantime, it is to be a place where your dog can have fun and be what he is – a dog

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Seth Weaseley

    A peek-a-boo window is a must for my Yorkie who loves running around the backyard. It is also more lively with a group of dogs…

    • John Walton

      It is one of my most recommended ideas for clients who own a very active yorkie. It is not repetitive and gives the right amount of challenge and curiosity for the dogs.

  • Kathy Peters

    I have 3 dogs and they do love walking and exercising with me. I wonder if there are ways of exercising them when I can’t walk them at all. Lately, I’ve been feeling tired and have no time to go for a walk with my doggies. I was thinking, what kinds of activities I can do to substitute walking them? Will a game of fetch the ball suffice?

  • The game of fetch can be a short-term solution, though you can add some variety to it by adding more challenges or materials to keep the dogs interested and entertained. Some dog breeds will simply follow what you want to do, but others get bored easily.

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