Dogs need daily exercise. From the largest breed to the smallest breed, your dogs want to get out there. To wander around, sniff around, take some fresh air, and burn off that excess energy. It’s vital for their health, yes, but emotional and mental stimulation is as important.
With the best will in the world and no matter how much we love them, much of the time we cannot give them the exercise they crave. If you have a dog breed that requires 2 or 3 hours a day of exercise, you understand what I’m saying. Life gets in the way.
There is a way around this, though. And that’s coming up with some dog run ideas. You may already have a yard area where your dog/s can run and play, but a dog run can still be a great idea. If you have a major digger or a dog that thinks he was an extra in The Great Escape movie, making a dog run could still be your best bet.
If you have a big enough backyard space to separate your garden or outdoor entertaining areas from the outdoor dog areas, even better. Not every dog owner is happy to see their flowerbeds and vegetable gardens destroyed by their dog, especially if they have a big dog.
Many years ago I was a pet parent to a Great Dane, a wonderful dog, but within a few months of bringing her home, our once pristine garden looked like black and white footage of an old battlefield. I should have seen what was going to happen and built a dog run.
What is a Dog Run?
When we use the term “dog run” it evokes different meanings for people. There isn’t one structure or design that fits the definition. So we can use the term to describe any structure that enables your dog to run around, safely, without constant supervision.
It should be a covered dog run, including areas of shade for the dog to get out of the sun on hot days, and fencing strong enough for him to not break free. It can be a concrete floor or grass, even artificial grass, depending on what you prefer. Above all, it must be a safe and secure enclosure where you know your dog cannot come to any harm.
Luckily, dog runs don’t all need a vast amount of space. You can build smaller runs, but they would help more with mental and emotional support rather than for exercising in. Dog runs come in different sizes and for different purposes.
Choosing a Dog Run Design
Think about how much space you want to designate when you build a dog run. There will be certain factors that dictate this. The size of your backyard, the size of your dog, do you expect the dog to be in there for hours at a time, or do you want your dog to only use the run when you’re there? What are the principal reasons you want the run and what is it you’re trying to accomplish?
If you want to let your dog run free and spend a lot of time in the run, then you must ensure he has the room to run free, explore and play. These runs should be at least three times the width of the dog and to give him a good run maybe twenty feet long. I mentioned it needs shady areas and covered from the rain. Drainage is also important. You don’t want his paws wet and muddy.
Portable Dog Runs
These are a simple remedy. Cheap to buy and are up and ready in a few hours. Being portable allows you to reposition them whenever you wish. The downsides are they’re not attractive and may well not be strong enough to withstand a determined dog wanting to be somewhere else.
Side Yard Dog Runs
If you have a side yard between your house, the neighbors, or boundary wall, a side yard run could be perfect for you. With this, you can build a gate or fencing at both ends. I still feel it’s necessary to add some kind of waterproof roofing, though. If you don’t build a roof covering ensure the fencing or gates are tall enough. Many dogs are adept climbers.
Again, it can be portable or you could opt for a permanent enclosure. If it’s a permanent one you might like to contact your local building authority and check if you require planning permission before you begin construction. We’ve talked about the climbers and now let’s talk about the other escapees the tunnelers. You need to prevent dogs from digging their way out. Dogs are resourceful little beggars.
Dig down at least 18 inches to bury your fence. Then place large enough rocks or bricks along its full length. The flooring can be a choice of mulch, concrete, gravel, grass (artificial grass), and wood.
Dog Run Ideas
The only thing restricting dog run designs is the imagination of the pet parents. If you can conceive it, then you can probably build it. With smallish dogs, I’ve seen them designed with small white picket fences and artificial grass and a little wooden dog’s house.
Or a smallish area bordered with wood, artificial grass, and flowers. Not so much a run, more an area to take the dog for his toilet needs. If you choose artificial grass, then you might want to use a turf odor eliminator. The urine smell can build up over time. Using fake grass can cut back on digging, and there’s not much in the way of maintenance.
Some homemade runs have their built-in agility equipment, excellent for their mental and emotional wellbeing. Yet again, some owners design their runs like a doggy park and invite the neighbor’s dogs around for company. The owners let them play while they grab a coffee and have a chat.
Dog Run Ideas – Final Thoughts
A dog run is not to be confused with a cage. No animal should be caged up. If your dog considers his run a cage, then it will not help his emotions or health.
Make sure the run is dry and clean at all times. Enough shade in case of hot sunny weather, placing clean drinking water where it’s easily accessible.
Give him room to run around and play. If he has favorite toys, let him take those into the run with him. Last but not least, make sure he has a nice comfortable place to take his much-deserved naps.
Brad Davenport would love to live in a world where dogs rule (a kinder more caring society). As an experienced writer about dogs he’s been published on numerous websites. When he’s not writing about dogs you can find him with his wife and son on long walks with their feisty, little Havanese, Biscuit.