Dog Run Ideas: Create A Backyard Dog Potty Area For Your Pup

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Every dog — from the laziest English Bulldog to the most energetic and athletic Border Collie — needs to be given the opportunity to stretch its legs.

From running around to chasing that ever elusive tail to just rolling around and playing, dogs need to expend their excess energy on a daily basis.

As with humans, exercising is important for a dog’s health.

Regular exercise helps dogs stay healthy and staves off problems like stiffness, fatigue, weight gain, and its associated health problems.

Exercising isn’t just about the physical health needs of your dog.

Dogs are highly intelligent animals that crave the mental stimulation that comes with exercise.

As most dog owners will discover at some point, when your dog isn’t getting enough exercise it will begin engaging in destructive behaviors like:

  • Digging
  • Chewing
  • Anxiety
  • Barking Incessantly

Even knowing the cause of these behaviors, many dog owners struggle to meet the exercise requirements of the pups.

Taking daily walks or jumping in the car for a trip to the dog park can be a challenge for busy families or in locations with bad weather.

Installing a fence around your entire backyard or hiring a dog walker to visit every day can be prohibitively expensive.

Even with a fenced backyard, leaving your pup to roam free is not without risks.

What if your dog digs under the fence?

Or jumps/climbs over the fence?

Or ruins the grass with brown dog urine spots?

Or destroys your flower bed?

Fortunately, there is a pretty simple and straightforward solution.

You can build or install a dog run or designated pet area.

A dog run will provide your pup with a safe space to run, jump, dig, and chew to his heart’s content—all while protecting your yard and your wallet.

In this article, we’ll take a look at a variety of dog run ideas, the pros and cons of different types of dog runs, and how to design and build a backyard dog run to meet your pup’s specific needs.

We’ll also explore what materials you can choose from to create the perfect play area for your pup!

What is a Dog Run

What is a Dog Run?

A dog run is a fenced-off outdoor area in which your dog is confined, but able to run, play, and do what dogs do.

Sometimes referred to as a pet area, dog kennel, dog potty area, etc., but they’re all pretty much the same thing.

Whatever you call it, the most important feature of a dog run is that you don’t need to supervise your dog.

A backyard dog run is a pet-friendly enclosure that will keep your pup safe and out of trouble. 

Dog runs protect your dog, as well as the other elements or occupants of the yard.

Regular exercise is essential for a dog’s physical and mental health.

A dog run is a perfect solution for busy dog owners to ensure that their dog has the space necessary to run, play, and go to the bathroom without destroying your yard.

Keep in mind that a dog run is meant to provide your pup with a safe place to exercise.

It is NOT intended to house your pup full-time.

What Are The Benefits of Dog Runs

What Are The Benefits of Dog Runs or Designated Dog Potty Areas?

Building or installing a dog run in your backyard will require an initial investment of time and money.

That said, it does offer a number of benefits to you and your furry friend.

Prevents Your Dog from Destroying the Natural Grass

One thing every dog owner discovers pretty quickly is that natural grass and dogs do not mix well.

Dog urine kills natural grass as dogs repeatedly urinate in the same spots, causing brown dog urine spots to form on your lawn.

Beyond urinating, dogs love to dig and bury things in natural grass.

They also love to run back and forth along the same path, wearing out the natural grass and preventing new grass from taking root.

A dog run or designated dog potty area will prevent your dog from ruining your entire lawn.

You also have the option of using pet-friendly ground covers in your dog run that won’t be worn out or destroyed by your pup.

Keeps Digging, Jumping, Climbing Escape Artist Dogs Contained

Some of the more athletic breeds of dogs, like Boxers for example, are notoriously good jumpers.

Even with a wooden fence surrounding your backyard, a determined pup can find a way to scale the fence and escape into the neighborhood.

Going up and over a fence isn’t the only means of escape, as every dog loves to dig.

If your pup is a determined escape artist, a dog run may be just what you need to contain them.

A dog run with a roof is just what athletic dogs need to get out their energy without risking them jumping the fence and escaping the safety of the yard. 

Provides a Designated Potty Area

One of the most frustrating parts of owning a dog is cleaning up after they go number 2.

The “easter egg hunt” for dog poop in the yard isn’t fun for anyone, and if you have a large yard this can become time-consuming as well.

Building a dog run will provide your pup with a designated potty area.

When she only “goes” in one place, you don’t have to scour the yard for her droppings.

Confining the doggy potty area to the dog run may also be an aid in potty training your dog.

Creates an Enclosed Area That’s Safe & Secure

Without a fenced backyard, your pup doesn’t have a safe place to play without supervision.

Leaving them unattended, even for a minute or two is plenty of time for them to get into trouble or wander off.

A dog run will create an enclosed area that’s safe for your pup to play.

It will keep them safe from your neighbor’s dogs or kids, or keep them safe from your pup.

You’ll also know exactly where your dog is at all times when you let them out, and don’t have to worry about the dangers posed by moving cars, strange dogs, and other people.

The safety and security of your dog is a very reasonable excuse for investing the time and money necessary to create a dog-friendly space.

Keeps Children & Guests Separate From Dogs

If your yard will be hosting a variety of guests children, dogs, and adults, having them all in the same place can cause problems.

Dogs are often very excitable around a lot of people.

Your kind and gentle black lab may become too excited for your toddler to handle, resulting in her getting accidentally knocked over.

The size or bark of your sweet and lovable Rottweiler will likely intimidate visitors.

Perhaps your Pug hasn’t yet learned not to jump up on dinner guests. 

In any of the situations above, a dog run would benefit you, your pup, and your guests.

It would provide a separate, contained space where your pup can be a part of the backyard BBQ without getting into trouble.

Separates Problem Dogs

Sometimes dogs in the same house don’t get along well and need to be separated. 

It may be a personality clash or territoriality, or you may want to prevent the accidental breeding of a female dog in heat.

Whatever the reason for the separation, having a dog run gives you options on how to situate your dogs for a happy, peaceful household.

Whatever your reasons for needing one, a dog run in your backyard is an excellent investment if you want your furry friend to have a safe place to enjoy and exercise while you are busy. 

Different Types of Dog Runs

8 Different Types of Dog Runs & Dog Run Ideas

Just as dogs come in a seemingly endless variety of breeds, dog runs can take on a variety of shapes and sizes that meet the needs of different canines.

The type of dog run you choose for your pup will depend on the space and resources you have available.

For some dogs, a small and simple dog run is all that’s necessary.

Other dogs may necessitate larger and more elaborate dog runs.

So, which type of dog run is right for you and your pup?

There are several factors that will influence which dog run design is best for your dog.

When deciding on the best type of dog run for your pup, consider the following:

  • Size & Number of Dogs
  • Size of Your Yard or Available Space
  • Exercise Requirements of Your Dog (Age, Physical Ability, & Breed)
  • Configuration of Your Yard or Space (Steep Slopes, Natural Shade, Existing Structures, etc.)

Each of these factors will inform and influence the size and complexity of your dog run.

While we will go into how to build a dog run, we’ll first explore the different types of dog runs available so you understand all of your options.

1. Simple & Practical Dog Run Ideas

1. Simple and Practical Dog Run Ideas

The most basic dog run design, a simple and practical dog run usually involved a small area, that’s fenced off to provide space for the dog to exercise and potentially potty train. 

Even the simplest dog run design needs to be proportionate to the size and exercise requirements of your dog.

A Great Dane or Rottweiler will obviously require more space than a Pug or Pomeranian.

Most dogs are pretty easily entertained, so your dog run doesn’t have to be massive or complex in order for your dog to enjoy it.

A simple design with four sides and a roof may be all your pup needs and can be constructed/installed in a short time.

2. Side-Yard Dog Run Ideas

2. Side-Yard Dog Run Ideas

One of the best and most common areas to add a dog run is in the side yard between your house and the property line or boundary fence.

Many single-family homes have a long, narrow side yard that’s perfect for adding a dog run.

On most properties, this is largely wasted real estate.

If you have a side yard with an existing boundary fence, building a side-yard dog run could be as simple as putting a fence or gate at each end.

One of the best features of this simple dog-run design is the shade provided by the house.

3. Mentally Stimulating Dog Run Ideas

3. Mentally-Stimulating Dog Run Ideas

One of the best ways to keep your dog from destructive behaviors is to ensure they’re mentally stimulated.

A dog run can be built to include mentally stimulating activities that will keep your pup occupied and out of trouble.

For some dogs, toys aren’t interesting enough to hold their attention, while for some the toys aren’t durable enough to withstand the dog’s chewing.

While your Pit Bull may delight in destroying even the most durable toys, they pose a choking hazard.

Instead of just relying on toys, an area designed to stimulate a dog’s senses may be more effective at keeping them occupied.

This can be as simple as adding rocks and pet-friendly plants to create texture or as elaborate as installing ramps, hoops, or tires as a canine obstacle course.

4. Large Yard Dog Run Ideas

4. Wide and Unrestricted Dog Run Ideas for Large Yards

Larger dogs as well as herding and hunting breeds require a lot of daily exercise.

The more energy your dog burns off outside, the less energy it will have to destroy things when you bring it inside.

A dog run with a large, open space will provide them will room to run and play.

This will limit the amount of barking, chewing, digging, and destruction they’ll visit upon your yard.

Giving your dog a chance to run around a large space and burn off excess energy, will often result in a more docile and cuddly dog when they come back inside the house.

Ensuring your dog has enough space to get enough exercise may be best accomplished by turning your entire backyard into a dog run.

5. Dog Run Ideas for Small Spaces & Apartments

5. Dog Run Ideas for Small Spaces & Apartments

You don’t have to have a lot of space to create a dog run for your pup.

Whether you have a tiny yard or live in an apartment, you can create a small dog run for your furry friend with minimal space. 

To create an indoor dog run or a dog run on the balcony of your apartment, you should consider using artificial pet turf.

The incredibly realistic look of modern artificial grass will simulate natural grass.

This will give your pup a place to “go”, and require minimal maintenance on your part.  

Add toys, ramps, or obstacles to make the most of a small space. 

6. Enclosed Pet Area

6. Enclosed Dog Run Ideas

An enclosed pet area offers pet-owners peace of mind, especially those with adventurous pups that are in the habit of running off.

They’re very versatile in that they can be placed pretty much anywhere in your yard.

This includes front and side yards.

An enclosed dog run can be constructed with just about any type of material you want.

Some popular choices are: 

  • Wood 
  • Vinyl 
  • Metal
  • Chain-link
7. Anchored Tether Dog Run

7. Anchored Tether Dog Run Ideas

Some owners use the term dog run to apply to an open space that doesn’t feature a fence at all.

Instead, a long piece of rope or chain is used to keep your dog from wandering off.

These are the easiest dog runs to build, but they don’t provide as much safety as some of the other types of dog runs.

How to Install an Anchored Tether:

An anchored tether is exceedingly easy to set up.

You can simply buy a corkscrew-shaped stake, drive it into the ground, and then use a long tether to connect the stake to your dog’s collar or harness.

Just be sure to put the tether in a wide-open space that doesn’t present any hazards or obstacles to your dog (you don’t want your dog to wrap the tether around a tree, for example).

If a ground stake isn’t a good fit for your property, dog, or aesthetic tastes, you can insert a large wooden timber into the ground and cement it into place.

Then, you’ll need to attach a thick steel ring to one side of the post.

This will give you a place to attach the tether.

8. Sliding Tether [Aerial] Dog Run

8. Sliding Tether [Aerial] Dog Run Ideas

If you aren’t interested in installing a fenced dog run, you have the option to go with a sliding tether or aerial dog run.

This is a very simple and easy system to set up that will give your pup space to roam and play while ensuring they don’t escape the yard.

An aerial dog run is essentially a cable connected to two points.

This overhead cable has a pulley with a leash attached that allows your dog to use the space between the two ends of the cable.

Stoppers can be placed along the line to limit the dog’s movement.

If one end of the tether is attached to your house and the other end to a tree, adding a stopper to the line will prevent your dog from getting wrapped around the tree.

These are relatively inexpensive and are great for dogs with lots of energy. 

Just make sure you use a cable that can withstand your dog’s weight and strength.

Note: It’s possible for your dog to get entangled in the leash, so it’s important to keep an eye on your pup with this type of dog run.

How To Build A Backyard Dog Run

How To Build A Backyard Dog Run

Now that we’ve covered what a dog run is, what its benefits are, and the different types of dog run ideas and options available, let’s look at how to build a backyard dog run.

Depending on how much space, time, and money you have to invest in your dog run, it can be small and simple, or large and complex.

The following steps will help you in building the perfect dog run for your pup!

Step 1-Pick The Right Spot

Step 1: Pick the Right Spot for Your Dog Run

The first step in building a dog run in your yard is choosing where to put it.

You’ll want to choose a spot that’s out of the way enough to not interfere with other activities in your yard, but close enough to check on your dog periodically.

If you’d like your dog to be able to enter and exit the house while you aren’t home, consider placing your dog run adjacent to a side door with a doggie door installed.

Try to avoid steep slopes that will be prone to erosion under the high traffic or a running dog.

Also, be mindful of what is already in the spot you want to place the dog run. 

Dogs love to explore and eat pretty much whatever they can find, so be careful of plants or mushrooms that are toxic for dogs.

Steer clear of spots where these things are growing or have grown in the past. 

Don’t forget to avoid any buried power, gas, or plumbing lines as well.

Your dog run should ideally be close to a water source to make rinsing down the run and filling up water bowls more convenient.

Also, try to choose a spot with good drainage to ensure that your dog will not be standing in mud or water if it happens to rain.

Consider Shaded Areas

Consider Shaded Areas

The summer sun here in Texas is extremely powerful and can be very dangerous for pets left outside, exposed to the sun.

Choose a spot that offers some natural shade to allow your dog to escape the heat of the Texas summer sun. 

If it is not possible to build a dog run in the shade, you can also add shade to the area with a dog house, cover, or patio umbrella.

Step 2-Determine the Size of Your Dog Run

Step 2: Determine the Size of the Dog Run

How big your dog run is will largely be determined by the size of your dog.

Naturally, bigger dogs will require more space to get enough exercise

Another factor in determining the size of your dog run is how much time your dog will be spending in it.

If your dog will be spending a lot of time in the enclosure, it should have more room to run, play, and explore without feeling cramped in a small space.

At a minimum, the space should be at least twice as wide and about five times as long as the length of your dog.

While there isn’t a mathematical formula to calculate the size of your dog run, it should be long enough or large enough for your dog to turn around comfortably and run for several paces before having to turn around.

The more space you can give your pup, the more space he or she will have to run, play, and explore.

If you aren’t very good with numbers, you may want to check out our post about how to measure a space and calculate square footage

Step 3-Select a Dog Run Design

Step 3: Select a Dog Run Design

When choosing a dog run design, you have a few options to consider.

Every dog is different and has different needs.

Your dog’s exercise needs and personality will help guide your choice in terms of dog run design.

Make sure to select a design that meets your pup’s needs, as well as your own. 

You’ll also want to decide on whether to install a prefabricated dog run or construct one yourself. 

Here are a few tips on choosing a dog run design.

Portable vs. Built-In Dog Runs

Portable vs. Built-In Dog Runs 

Portable dog runs are more affordable than a built-in dog run and are easy to move and relocate.

If your dog starts to wear down the grass in one spot, you can move the dog run to give the grass a chance to recover (though you’ll be stuck with a brown spot in the meantime). 

That said, a portable dog run may not be sturdy enough for a determined escape artist.

A portable dog run will also detract from your landscaping and outdoor living spaces.

Unlike a portable pet area, a built-in dog run is a functional part of the landscaping, so it blends in better aesthetically. 

While a built-in dog run will require more time and money for the initial setup, they don’t have to be moved and can be built strong enough to contain larger and more active dogs.

A built-in dog run can also be constructed to augment or accent your landscaping and outdoor living spaces.

Open vs. Enclosed Dog Runs

Open vs. Enclosed Dog Runs

An open dug run will give your pup the sense that they have their very own yard.

Just make sure that the fencing or perimeter is high enough to prevent your dog from jumping over it.

Enclosed dog runs are great for dogs that are undergoing training.

Make sure that the roof of your enclosed dog run is high enough for your pup to freely jump and move around.

Any dog run should be at least twice as wide and five times as long as the length of your dog.

This is especially important for an enclosed play area.

Things To Consider for Dog Run Design

Things to Consider When Selecting a Dog Run Design

Permits & Regulations – Every town is different, but you may need to obtain a permit before constructing a dog run depending on its height and size. HOA rules and regulations may also be a factor. Check with your local governing body to see if a permit is required for your design before you start to build.

Roofing – Some dogs are great jumpers and climbers, so keep that in mind when considering your dog run design. If your dog is an escape artist, adding a roof to your dog run will not only help contain your pup but will also deter threats from any wild animals (coyotes, raccoons, or foxes) that may roam your area.

Access – Your dog may not be the only one to use the dog run. You may find it useful for training your pup or may simply enjoy running around and playing with your pup in their enclosure. Take practical usage into consideration as you plan out your dog run. If your dog run will be adjacent to an exterior door with a doggie door, the dog run should be tall enough for you to use the door to access the area.

Height – You’ll have to enter the dog run to clean it, replace food and water, and train or play with your dog. Be sure to make the area tall enough so you can access it without having to crawl or hunch over. Even if your dog is short, make sure the pet area accommodates human guests as well.

Lock – Smart, agile dogs may be able to manipulate a simple latch. Choose a locking mechanism that makes it easy for you to get in but hard for your dog to get out. Place it high enough on the gate so your dog will have a tough time getting to it.

Step 4-Selecting Dog Run Fencing

Step 4: Selecting Dog Run Fencing

The most important component of your dog run is the fencing material, as this is what will actually contain your pup.

Your dog run will need fencing that’s sturdy enough to withstand the inevitable jumping, chewing, and climbing that it will be exposed to.

For dogs that love to dig, choose a fencing material that can extend far enough into the ground to prevent your dog from escaping.

Alternatively, a concrete foundation will prevent any escape tunnels.

Chain Link Fencing

Chain Link Fencing

The most common type of fencing for dog runs is chain link fencing.

It’s affordable, sturdy, and readily available, making it an excellent choice for a dog run.

It also allows your dog to see out through the fence with ease and for you to see in to conveniently check on your dog.

Even with its many beneficial features, it’s definitely not the most attractive option.

However, this can be improved by painting the fence or using plastic or bamboo privacy slats if desired.

If you do plan to paint your fence, make sure you use a non-toxic product that is intended for outdoor use.

Metal Fencing

Metal Fencing

To give your dog run a more aesthetically pleasing look, higher-end metal fencing is a great option.

Aluminum or wrought iron fencing will transform your dog run from a functional area to an ornamental feature of your backyard landscape. 

The biggest downside with metal fencing is cost.

If you decide to go with metal fencing, make sure the gaps are narrow enough that your dog’s head can’t fit through them.

Also, metal fencing with ornate features or sharp points could pose a poking or stabbing threat to your dog.

Wood Fencing

Wood Fencing

Easy installation, low maintenance, and relatively low cost make wood fencing a popular option for dog runs.

If you want a natural look, wood fencing is the best option.

Keep in mind that wood isn’t as durable as other materials and doesn’t hold up as well in the sun and rain.

Additionally, your dog will probably scratch or chew the wood. 

Large dogs that repeatedly jump on wooden fencing can also compromise the integrity of the fence over time. 

Using wood fencing can be a good option in the right circumstances. 

Be sure whatever stain or paint you use is non-toxic to dogs (in case of accidental ingestion). 

Also, make your wooden fence strong enough to withstand the wear and tear from your pooch. 

Plastic-Coated Wire Fencing

Plastic-Coated Wire Fencing

Plastic-coated wire fencing offers a nice balance between aesthetics and cost.

It’s an attractive option that provides the durability dogs require while looking much better than chain link fencing. 

This attractive option provides the sturdiness you need for most dog breeds, looks considerably better than chain link fencing, and is more affordable than wood.

All of these options are available at home and garden centers, so you can easily compare sturdiness and price before making your final decision.

Step 5-Choose A Pet-Friendly Ground Cover

Step 5: Choose a Pet-Friendly Ground Cover

Now that you’ve decided on the location, design, and walls of your dog run, you need to decide on a pet-friendly ground cover.

If it’s safe and allows for proper drainage, you may be able to build your dog run on an existing ground cover.

Below are the most common pet-friendly ground covers to consider for your dog run.

  • Natural Grass
  • Gravel / Small Pebbles
  • Paving Stones
  • Wood Chips / Mulch
  • Concrete
  • Artificial Grass
Natural Grass

Natural Grass

Natural grass may be safe for dogs, but it does NOT hold up well to the abuse they dish out.

In a dog run, maintaining a ground cover of natural grass would be extremely difficult.

Not only would you be dealing with brown dog urine spots, but also holes from digging and ruts from running and pacing.

Mowing whatever grass manages to survive inside your dog run would also pose a bit of a challenge.

Trying to maintain natural grass inside a dog run would require fertilizer and possibly pesticides, which would needlessly expose your dog to chemicals.

The upside to natural grass is the ease of cleaning up solid waste.

A poop scoop and a garden hose once a week are enough to keep a grassy pet area clean.

Gravel or Small Pebbles

Gravel / Small Pebbles

Gravel is a pretty popular ground cover option for dog runs.

If you want to go with gravel, make sure you choose pea gravel.

Pea gravel is usually rounder and does not have quite as many sharp edges as other types of gravel. 

One thing to keep in mind with gravel is the Texas summer heat.

Gravel can become too hot for pets if it’s in direct sunlight for much of the day. 

The small pebbles can also be tough on your dog’s paws, getting stuck between the pads. 

Gravel can also be hard to contain, spreading to other areas of the yard.

It is also not a good option for dogs who like to chew on rocks, as it can cause significant dental damage.

Paving Stones

Paving Stones

Using paving stones to create a pet-friendly ground cover in your dog run is more expensive than concrete, but far more visually appealing.

This option provides a slip-resistant surface that allows for easy solid waste removal and easy cleaning by simply rinsing it off with a garden hose.

Paving stones are nicer-looking than concrete, but they’re more expensive and they’ll still heat up in the sun. 

They can be interspersed with grass to give your dog some reprieve from the heat.

Shade should be a priority if you choose to use pavers for the entire floor of your dog run.

Wood Chips or Mulch

Wood Chips / Mulch

Wood chips and mulch placed over landscaping fabric are popular ground cover options for dog runs.

Mulch is not only aesthetically pleasing but is relatively inexpensive and easy to replace with a rake if or when it clumps up.

There are a few downsides that should be considered as well.

Wood chips provide a breeding ground for bacteria.

Dog urine can’t be simply rinsed with a hose.

You’ll need to regularly add more wood chips to replace those lost when picking up solid waste and to keep this option looking fresh.

Much or wood chips may be visually appealing but will require more upkeep and maintenance on your part to keep it looking and prevent it from smelling bad.

Concrete

Concrete

Concrete is a popular option for dog-run ground covers.

A concrete dog run can simply be rinsed down to remove liquid waste, and solid waste is very easy to remove.

But similar to gravel, the Texas sun can make a concrete pad extremely unpleasant or dangerous for your dog. 

Make sure there is plenty of shade if you plan to use this option in sunny Texas where concrete can become quite hot quite quickly.

Dogs with sensitive paws may find this option to be a bit abrasive.

Pet-Friendly Artificial Grass Dog Run

Artificial Grass

Advancement in manufacturing technology and materials in recent years has led to an explosion in the popularity of artificial grass.

Popular as a pet-friendly ground cover both inside and outside of dog runs, artificial grass offers a number of benefits.

One of the most common residential artificial turf applications is in dog runs and designated dog potty areas.

Pet turf or artificial grass for dogs has the look and feel of natural grass, but won’t develop ruts or brown dog urine spots like real grass.

One of the biggest reasons homeowners choose to install artificial grass is its low maintenance requirements, especially when compared to natural grass.

Artificial grass eliminates the need for expensive gas-powered lawn care equipment like lawnmowers and weed whackers.

It’s an environmentally friendly alternative to natural grass.

Solid waste is easily removed with a doggie bag or pooper scooper and it will occasionally need to be rinsed with a hose.

Highly durable, synthetic grass can withstand whatever Mother Nature can throw at it.

And, it’s durable enough to withstand the wear and tear from running, and playing dogs (just fluff it with a rake occasionally to prevent matting). 

Perhaps the most important feature of artificial grass is that contrary to common misconceptions, it’s 100% safe for pets AND kids.

When considering artificial grass for your dog run look for turf products with the following features:

  • Short pile height for easy cleanup (solid pet waste stays on the top of the turf)
  • Fully permeable backing (dog urine passes through any point in the backing)
  • Antimicrobial additives (prevents the buildup of odors & bacteria)
  • Cooling infill material (T°Cool® Infill)

Like concrete, gravel, or stone, a problem with artificial grass is that it can heat up in the Texas sun. 

To prevent the temperature of artificial grass from getting too high in the sun, consider using T°Cool® Infill which lowers surface temps by 30° – 50°F through the process of evaporative cooling.

You can also keep the pet turf cool by making sure the dog run is in a naturally shady spot.

If the turf in your dog run is too hot, you can quickly cool the area down with a quick spray from a hose.

If you’re considering artificial turf for your dog run, be sure to check out our post on how to choose the best artificial grass for your space.

Step 6-Add or Create Shade

Step 6: Add or Create Shade

As mentioned several times throughout this blog post, your dog run should provide your pup with shade to escape the Texas sun.

Texas’ notoriously sporadic weather means that your dog will also need some protection from rainstorms.

Adding a structure to your dog run that provides shade and protection from the elements is essential for the comfort and safety of your pup.

Depending on the location of your dog run, you may be able to take advantage of existing shade from trees, fences, pergolas, patio covers, or your house. 

For yards that don’t have a pre-existing shaded area, you should add a roof to part of the dog run that’s big enough for your dog to escape the sun and weather.

Below are a few simple and effective ways to create a shaded area in your dog run.

1. Add A Solid Roof

1. Add a Solid Roof

The most effective way to create a shaded area in your dog run is to add a roof.

This doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive, as a sheet of pressure-treated plywood secured over a section of your dog run will work just fine.

It will block the sun providing shade for your pup and protecting him or her from the elements.

2. Install Shade Structures

2. Install Shade Structures

Adding a shade structure is a relatively inexpensive way to provide your pup with some shade.

“Shade Structures” refers to pergolas, pavilions, awnings, gazebos, shade sails, etc.

These are good options for homeowners that also want to improve the look of their yard, instead of taking away from it. 

Installing a pergola at the entrance of your dog run will provide your pup with the shade needed.

Like dog houses, pergolas come in a plethora of shapes and sizes and can be custom designed.

Small, pre-made pergolas are available at most home and garden centers, or you can construct your own.

3. Add a Dog House

3. Add a Dog House

Dog houses come in many shapes and sizes and can be custom built if you’re so inclined.

A dog house will provide protection from the sun, as well as unexpected wind or rain that may occur while you are away from home. 

With a dog house, you can position it outside of the enclosure and make an access point in the fence for the dog to enter the dog house.

Alternatively, you can place the dog house inside your dog run.

If you put a dog house inside your pet area, make sure it can’t be used as an aid in jumping the fence.

This can be done by strategically placing the dog house inside the dog run or by adding a roof to your pet area.

4. Repurpose a Patio Umbrella

4. Repurpose a Patio Umbrella

Adding shade to your dog run doesn’t have to break the bank, or cost anything at all for that matter.

You could simply repurpose an old patio umbrella that’s been sitting in your garage.

If you want, you can purchase a new patio umbrella at a patio furniture store to add a stylish shade option to protect your dog from the sun.

This option is portable, and you can easily adjust it to provide your dog with better protection from the sun.

Dog Run Frequently Asked Questions

Dog Run Ideas Frequently Asked Questions 

Despite the myriad shapes, sizes, and layouts dog runs can take, there are a few common questions that routinely pop up when owners take on the project.

We’ll discuss a few of these below.

How Long Can You Leave Your Dog in a Run?

Dog runs aren’t designed to provide long-term housing for your pet.

You’ll want to use a dog run to give your pet a chance to run around and get some exercise when you can’t take him to the park or when you are busy with other things.

There are a variety of factors that you’ll need to consider when deciding how long you can leave your dog in his run, including:

  • Climate & Weather
  • Tolerance for high and low temperatures
  • Exercise needs
  • Desire for human companionship

But generally speaking, most dogs should be fine hanging out in their run for at least an hour, and some may be happy running around for 3 or 4 hours at a time.

Just be sure that your dog always has water and shelter to protect him from the elements.

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Dog Run?  

Dog runs fluctuate wildly in price.

If you just want an anchored tether, you can probably complete the project for $20 to $40.

If you have a garage full of odds and ends, you may be able to reduce the cost even more by scavenging for parts and components.

On the other hand, you could easily spend thousands of dollars making a large and luxurious outdoor kennel with attached housing enclosures and heating elements.

Cost-conscious owners can certainly construct a dog run for less, and exceptionally creative and innovative owners can probably build a fenced dog run for less than $200.

If you’re considering using artificial grass in your dog run, you may find our post about artificial grass cost & pricing helpful.

Which Ground Cover is Best for Dog Runs? 

There are a variety of pet-friendly ground cover options to choose from for your dog run.

How do you know which ground cover is best for your dog run?

The best ground cover for a dog run depends on a number of factors and won’t be the same for every dog run.

To choose the best ground cover for you, consider what look you’re going for, your dog’s activity level, do they dig or not, how much shade the area will have, etc.

That said, for a straight answer to the question of which ground cover is best for dog runs, in my opinion, it’s artificial grass.

It’s a 100% pet & kid-safe material that once installed, is practically maintenance-free.

It will last for 20 – 25+ years with minimal upkeep and it makes cleaning up after your dog extremely easy.

The best part is it looks and feels exactly like natural grass, without the fertilizers, pesticides, or gas-powered lawn care equipment that real grass requires.

We may be a bit biased, but looking at it objectively, the features, longevity, and benefits of artificial grass make it the most logical choice as a pet-friendly ground cover for dog runs.

How Big Should a Dog Run Be?

This is a common question among dog owners, but it’s difficult to provide a quick-and-easy formula. Take your dog’s size and energy level into consideration, as well as the amount of space you have available.

For small-to-medium-sized dogs, many owners have found that a 10-foot-long, 3-foot-wide dog run provides sufficient space.

Personally, this seems a bit small, but it’s probably a good starting point, and you can only make a run as big as your budget and space allow.

What Type of Dog Run is Best for Dogs That Like to Dig?

If your pup is a digging machine, you’ll have to take that into account when constructing your dog run.

The most effective means of preventing digging is to use concrete or artificial grass as a ground cover in your dog run.

No matter how persistent your pup is, they won’t be able to dig through either ground cover.

If you’re going with a different ground cover, you will need to bury the fence below the ground.

You can also add chicken wire under the ground cover around the edges or install a paving stone border to prevent digging.

Are Dog Runs Good for Dogs? 

A dog run in and of itself is neither good nor bad for your pup.

It’s how you use the dog run that will determine whether it’s good for your dog or not.

Dog runs are great for homeowners that want to provide their dog with a safe space to play and exercise without needing constant supervision.

It’s important that your dog run is a good match with your dog’s personality and playing habits.

For larger, more rambunctious dogs, a long and wide dog run might be best to give them the space to run and let out their energy.

Conversely, a small dog may only need a small space on your patio or yard for relaxed play.

Decide what’s best for your dog and design your dog run to fit their needs.

What Can I Use Instead of Grass for My Dog Run? 

There are plenty of pet-friendly ground cover options that you can use in your dog run instead of natural grass.

We covered the different ground cover options earlier in this post.

You may find a recent post we published helpful, as it’s a head-to-head comparison of artificial grass vs. real grass.

A few of the most popular pet-friendly ground cover options are listed below

  • Natural Grass
  • Gravel / Small Pebbles
  • Paving Stones
  • Wood Chips / Mulch
  • Concrete
  • Artificial Grass
Wrapping Up Our Guide to Dog Run Ideas

Wrapping Up Our Guide to Dog Run Ideas & Pet-Friendly Backyard Dog Potty Areas

Building or installing a dog run in your yard will provide your dog with a safe, comfortable, enjoyable place to run and play outdoors.

It also gives you the peace of mind that fido isn’t destroying the lawn, digging up the flowers, or terrorizing guests.

It’s important to use the dog run ideas in this post to make your dog run an inviting space that your dog enjoys, as opposed to a big cage.

Be sure to choose a comfortable pet-friendly ground cover, provide plenty of shade, and always have clean drinking water available.

It’s a good idea to include some of your dog’s favorite toys and a cozy place to curl up for a nap.

Depending on the type of dog run you choose, constructing it can be a simple weekend project or an elaborate puppy palace—whatever works for you. 

Choose features and materials that support your dog’s needs. 

The fencing material should be able to withstand whatever abuse your dog throws at it, and the ground cover should be easy to clean, cool enough for puppy paws, and low maintenance. 

If you’re considering installing pet-friendly artificial grass in your dog run, we recommend you explore our website a bit. 

There are a lot of specifics to understand about artificial grass, and the first step to creating a flawless, maintenance-free lawn is to educate yourself on the many features and options available. 

Learn about: 

We have pet-friendly turf products for every situation, offer free, no-obligation quotes, and world-class customer support.

Let’s get an expert on your side to help you put together the perfect installation plan for your dog run or designated dog potty area. 

We have teams of the best artificial grass installers in Arlington, TX. 

At Arlington Turf Installers, we are happy to help you explore this decision by answering any of your questions.

You can get a FREE design and installation estimate or you can give our team of experts a call at 682-332-7122.