24 Backyard Dog Run Ideas to Create a Dog-Friendly Oasis

Give your dog the safe, comfortable outdoor space that both you and your pup will love with these tips and ideas.

Published June 28, 2023
A Jack Russell Terrier running in backyard with steel fence and green lawn

All dogs need to stretch their legs and do their business, but if you have a backyard that's not quite dog-friendly, you might want to consider putting in a dog run. This is an enclosed space where your dog can shake out their sillies without you worrying about them falling in the pool or digging up your precious flowers. Sounds great, doesn't it? Use these backyard dog run ideas to create a dog-friendly oasis you and your pup will both love.

Dog Run Flooring Types

What kind of flooring should you put in the dog run? You want something that's easy on your dog's joints but also easy to clean. Grass is always a great option if you live in an area where it grows readily, but dog urine can easily turn grass yellow. These other materials could be better options:

  • Artificial grass: Artificial turf is the most popular option for dog runs because it's easy to clean, durable, fairly odor resistant, and looks and feels like grass. Plus, most dogs don't have a problem urinating on it if they're already used to grass.
  • Rubber tile: Outdoor rubber tiles are a great choice because they provide a non-slip and shock-absorbent ground cover for your dog. These tiles lock together, so you can buy just enough to cover the entire run.
  • Concrete: Concrete is easy to clean and incredibly durable, but it does have some downsides. Concrete has no give and can be hard on your dog's joints. You'll definitely want to provide your dog with a raised outdoor bed or doghouse for runs with this flooring option.
  • Sand: Sand is a cost-effective option. Just note sand can still get hot in the sun and could burn your pup's paws. Also, your dog will likely track the sand into the house.
Dog standing on soft outdoor tiles in a dog run area.

Shade Options

Direct sun is very unsafe in a dog run. In the summertime, dogs can experience heat stroke if they're not able to escape the sun, so always make sure there's some type of covering where your dog can go. This will also give them a way to escape the rain or other weather throughout the rest of the year.

French bulldog chilling out in a yard tent.
  • Awning: Add an awning to the side of the house over the dog run.
  • Pergola: Install a pergola in the run. You can even grow vines or climbing plants up and over it for extra shade.
  • Umbrella: Set up a large umbrella with a secure, sturdy stand so it doesn't get blown over.
  • Shade sail: Consider a permanent or semi-permanent shade sail that goes over the dog run. You can anchor it on your home or the fence.
  • Pop-up tent: Find a pop-up shade tent as a temporary solution when your dog is outside, but make sure it's up whenever they're outside.
  • Tree: Create your dog run under an existing tree that provides shade.

Dog-Safe Fencing

Keeping your dog within the confines of the dog run is really important for their safety. You'll want to pick a material that they can't pull down or injure themselves on. Consider one of these fencing options for your backyard dog run.

Woman playing with pug while sitting on grassy field in backyard
  • Wood: A wood fence is an attractive option, though it will require some upkeep. This is a good choice if your dog reacts to seeing other dogs or people; wood panels can block their vision, so they'll focus on what's inside the dog run instead of outside.
  • Chain link: Chain link is a common material you can find most anywhere.
  • Chicken wire: Chicken wire is incredibly cheap and can work well for a fence. The holes are small enough that your dog can't escape through them, but if you have a tough pup, they might be strong enough to pull it down.
  • Vinyl: Vinyl fence panels hold up fairly well and are usually cheaper than wood. But the fun part is that you can get vinyl fencing that resembles wood or matches your house aesthetic.
Quick Tip

Have a jumper? Make sure your fence is at least 6 feet high to prevent them from jumping out of their new dog run.

Tools for Waste Cleanup

Having a dog run doesn't have to be messy business, even if that's where your dog does their business. Many people go through their dog run every day or a few times each week to pick up waste the old-fashioned way, but there are a few tools you can try if you want something easier.

  • In-ground waste disposal system: You could consider installing an in-ground disposal system where you deposit the dog waste. This method will require a deep hole in the ground, but after installation, you'll just need to drop a "waste terminator tablet" down it every week to help break down the waste.
  • Poop scooper apparatus: Save your back with a long-handled poop scooper that doesn't require you to bend over.
  • Waste pail: Get an outdoor waste pail that's similar to a Diaper Genie, so you don't have to empty it every day.
  • Waste pick-up service: Don't want to do it yourself? Hire a waste pick-up service that'll come to your home regularly and clean out the dog run.

Creative Dog Run Ideas to Add Extra Fun

Now that you have the basics down, you can think about décor, activities, and other creative ideas to make your dog run extra… well, extra.

German shepherd (1 year) lying in the sandbox
  • Fire hydrant: A faux fire hydrant can be a fun piece of décor, plus it'll give any male dogs a designated place to lift their legs.
  • Agility equipment: Purchase or build your own dog agility equipment like a tunnel or jumps.
  • Tree: Consider planting a tree in the dog run as a focal point and to provide shade; just don't pick one that's toxic or has fruit with pits, which can be harmful to dogs.
  • Sandbox: Have a digger? Make them their own sandbox where they can dig to their heart's content.
  • Water feature: Drinking water is a must-have within the dog run, but a water feature can be a fun addition for an H2O-loving pup. Consider a fountain, doggy pool, or pond.
  • Dog wash station: Have your dog wash station in the dog run for easy access after a messy hike or day at the beach.

Create the Dog Run of Your Dreams

You deserve an incredible backyard, and so does your dog. You can both get exactly what you need by creating a dog-safe and entertaining dog run. Pick flooring and fencing options that work for your budget and will keep your dog safe, then get creative with décor.

24 Backyard Dog Run Ideas to Create a Dog-Friendly Oasis