We all know that dogs love to have unlimited space to run, play and explore. Unless you live on a farm or very large property, however, this is a dream few dogs and their owners realise. Fortunately there are dog parks, dog day care centres, and plenty of places to go dog walking to stimulate your pet’s interest and get him some exercise.
Even if you only have a very small back yard, there are still ways you can make conditions at home ideal for your pet. It can actually be a lot of fun creating a fantastic space at home for your dog, as even those dogs who are allowed inside with the family will love their outside time too. And not just that – being in the great outdoors is just as important for your furry friend as it is for you.
Tips for a Great Yard for Dogs
- Fencing is Crucial. No matter how large or small your dog, make sure the entire yard is fenced and that your pet can’t escape. Be warned, some dogs will give Houdini a run for his money! If you’re not fully fencing a large yard, create a large dog run at the very least. This will keep your dog both safe and happy, and others in the area safe and happy too. Make sure fences are high enough to contain your dog (some dogs are marvellous jumpers) and low enough to prevent him from squeezing under.
- Access to fresh water at all times is essential. A large bowl of water kept in the shade is a must. But even better is running water, so consider a water feature that can double as a drinking source. Think splash fountains, ponds with running water, or the like. Ensure if you have a pond or any pool that your dog can get out easily if he falls in.
- Access to shade and shelter is critical. Like us, dogs can suffer from heatstroke and sunburn – and remember that your pet has a fur coat he can’t take off, so he may feel the heat more than you do. Think large trees, shade cloths, overhead tarps, or a covered patio area. Ideally, there will be a size-appropriate enclosed doghouse too, for when he needs privacy, shelter from rain and wind, and to hunker down in a storm.
- Have plenty of grass for your dog to run and play on, and offer a rota of toys to keep him stimulated.
- Some plants are toxic to dogs. Keep this in mind, as dogs aren’t necessarily smart enough to avoid what will make them sick (or kill them). The list is long and included azaleas, chrysanthemums, and lilies. Check with your vet or see our previous article here.
- Never use snail, rat or pest baits in your yard – your curious dog will eat them/
- Choose landscaping materials carefully. They should be dog proof, not toxic, and easy to walk on, even in the sun. Great choices are grass, brick, smooth pebbles and ricks, and concrete. Small bark chips and mulch (but not cocoa mulch) is also dog friendly and won’t be too hot on feet.
- Very spoiled dogs will enjoy a window to the outside world!
Bear in mind that if you also have small children, you’ll need to factor in their needs as well. And don’t invite native bird life or possums etc into your yard if you have a dog – the results might not be ideal, especially if your dog is a “hunter”!