Your backyard isn't perfect unless every member of the family feels comfortable out there, including the ones with four paws. Luckily, dogs are pretty easy to please (reason #138 we don't deserve them). Creating a backyard oasis that's safe and comfy for your dog is as easy as bringing in just a few simple touches. The next problem? Convincing your dog to go inside at the end of the day.
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1. Set Up Dog-Friendly Furniture
Listen, it's pretty nice to lie in the soft grass sometimes, but it can also get hot down there on the ground. Set up some camp chairs, cushioned loungers or even just an elevated dog cot somewhere in the yard so your pet has options. Choose dog-friendly lawn furniture that's low to the ground and stable enough that it won't move when a dog jumps up or down. With cushioned furniture, keep some spare cushion covers handy, as muddy paws will necessitate frequent changes.
2. Create Walking Paths
Dogs tend to create and patrol certain paths around their yard. This is no problem in the short term, but your pet's repetitive movements may destroy the grass and create muddy patches in certain parts of your yard. Installing pavers or decorative stone paths in your dog's favorite areas should conceal the damage without discouraging your pup from continuing his (very important) work of monitoring the yard.
3. Create a Shaded Oasis
Even dogs who love lounging in the sun get too hot sometimes. Create some artificial shade so your pet always has the option to cool down. Set up a dog house or pop-up beach canopy in the yard or hang a tarp between two trees or other backyard structures to make a shady patch of grass.
4. Seal Off Escape Routes
An adventure-seeking pup might disagree, but a truly dog-friendly backyard keeps pets well contained. Even a dog who's normally content to stick close to home might bolt from a yard if she gets spooked. So, if you plan to let your dog be unleashed in a fenced yard, do a full boundary inspection. Walk the fence and look for any holes or loose spots that a dog could make bigger and wiggle through so you can make repairs before your pet goes looking for greener pastures.
5. Set Up Marking Spots
Naturally, your dog is going to do his business in the backyard. You can try asking him to avoid using your favorite decorative planter or lounge chair as a target, but it probably won't work. Instead, trying setting up a few "marking features," like small wooden posts or even a fake fire hydrant statue that's made for this purpose. Install these objects in out of the way corners of the yard and hopefully, your dog will want to mark them instead of your other backyard decor.
6. Protect Landscaping With Cages and Fencing
A determined dog needs just minutes to destroy a plant that took years to grow. She may dig up the roots, romp through delicate bushes or even eat flowers. Use tree cages or mesh fencing to cordon off any landscaping elements that you want your dog to leave alone.
7. Have a Poop-Scoop Plan
Your dog's business becomes your burden. You don't want to have to run into the house for a bag every time your dog does what dogs do. Hang a spool of poop bags from a fence or hang a scooper from a hook so it's always within reach.
8. Create a Digging Zone
A dog that's determined to dig in the dirt is going to dig in the dirt no matter how many times you try to reason with him. If your pup is a digger, don't fight it – accept it. Set up a small sandbox or kiddie pool filled with dirt or choose a corner that you're OK with having destroyed and dig up the surface a little to get your dog started. If he digs somewhere else, redirect him to the digging zone.
9. Add a Water Feature
No backyard is truly dog-friendly without water. At a bare minimum, there should be a water bowl filled with clean water available, and setting up an outdoor dog fountain makes this easy. For pups who love getting wet, fill a plastic kiddie pool with water and a few toys, or buy a cheap sprinkler head so your dog can run and play in the mist.
10. Give Pups Something to Do
Some dogs are happy to conk out in the grass and snooze all day. Keeping these dogs entertained in the yard is as simple as bringing out a few chew ropes and balls. Others will start to eat the fence if they're bored for longer than five minutes. If your dog is the latter, set up some agility equipment. Running through a tunnel, jumping through a hoop or navigating weaving poles might keep a smart and active pup happy for a long time.