According to the Canadian Animal Health Institute, 60 percent of Canadian households have at least one dog or cat. In fact, the country saw a pet population boom since the pandemic. There are now an estimated 7.9 million dogs in Canada, up from 7.7 million in 2020, and 8.5 million cats, up from 8.1 million in 2020. While it’s easy to leave cats indoors without coming home to complete destruction, dogs need a little bit more to keep them from causing chaos and mayhem. The easy solution is to leave your dog – or dogs – outside when you need to go out. Why not make it fun for them, though? It doesn’t have to cost you lots of money to create a doggy paradise. Check out these dog friendly backyard ideas on a budget for inspiration.
Add a Sleeping Area
Great pet friendly renovations to your home include adding spaces where your dog can sleep in comfort. Even better is adding a space your pup can call its own. This can be as simple as adding a dog bed or big old pillow on the patio or it can be a fun DIY project like building the ultimate canine castle, complete with upper deck for being on the lookout.
Choose Plants That Are Dog Safe
The best dog friendly backyard landscaping ideas won’t remain dog friendly if you add plants that are can harm your furry friends. Dogs often chew on plants when they have upset tummies, so make sure that whatever they chew on won’t exacerbate the issue. You can even let your plants do double duty: catnip, sage, rosemary and marigolds are not only dog safe but will repel bugs too.
Make a Dog Path
Walkways are a great way to turn a boring backyard into your private little fairyland. Your dog loves walkways too but may not like them where they are. Dogs like to patrol the yard, usually following the same route. Look for areas where the ground is worn to see where your dog’s preferred route is and then add dog friendly mulch to create a clear path in just the right place. Also add a mulch path along the fence.
Create Shady Spots
Even when your pup has a doghouse that provides shelter from the sun, it’s good to have spots where they can cool down in the shade and catch the breeze. The obvious long-term solution is to plant trees but meanwhile, you may have to get creative with pergolas, awnings and canopies. A patio or garden umbrella is an economical solution but you may find special dog canopies that are portable and come with a built-in dog bed for even less.
Replace the Lawn
You probably won’t grow the grow the best lawn in the neighbourhood if you have dogs, since their urine wreaks havoc on grass. You do want something soft and cool to cover the ground, though, instead of concrete or stone that can heat up and burn puppers’ paws. A dog friendly mulch that doesn’t contain eucalyptus, cocoa beans, salvaged wood, chemicals or dyes is one option. Another is to plant turfgrasses or ground cover like Labrador violet, creeping thyme or Irish moss, all of which are non-toxic to dogs.
Add Some Water Features
Need some backyard inspiration? Add a water feature or even a special pool just for your dog. This can be pricey, though. Luckily there are cheaper solutions to ensure your dog can get enough splashy action. A foldable kiddie pool is one idea; just make sure it’s heavy duty enough to withstand claws and that it’s easy for your dog to get into and out of. On a hot day, dogs will enjoy a sprinkler system as much as the kids do. Another idea is to get an outdoor shower spray attachment and create a doggy shower area, which will come in extra handy after a muddy walk. And don’t forget to add clean water bowls for drinking water.
Make Your Fence Dog Friendly
It’s a given that any dog backyard should be fenced in to keep your pups safe and prevent them from wandering. While you can build extraordinary fences à la Backyard Builds, a fence that takes into account your dog’s needs will reduce excessive barking and aggression. Of course, the fence should be high enough so that your pup can’t jump over it and durable enough so your dog can’t break through it. Dogs like to be able to see what’s happening on the other side of the fence, so they prefer chain-link or trellis fences or picket fences with gaps in between. If you don’t want to compromise on your own privacy, though, keep your solid fence but add dog-height peepholes or windows.
Build a Sandbox
Unfortunately, dogs like to entertain themselves by digging. One of the best dog proof garden ideas that will allow your pup to prospect for bones while keeping your flowerbeds intact is to build a sandbox. You can DIY it or simply get a ready-made kiddies’ one. Then bury some toys or bones in it and show your dog where to dig.
Create a Play Yard
Of course your dog would love for you to be home all day and play fetch for hours on end. If this isn’t possible, a good compromise is to create the sort of play area that will keep your pup entertained on its own. One of the easiest dog play yard ideas is to create an agility course with tunnels and hurdles and ramps, using whatever materials you have left over from your DIY projects. Also ensure there are plenty of toys, like balls and tug toys.
Create a Potty Area
Just like people, dogs enjoy a good bathroom. If you want to keep your backyard clean and potty-train your pup more easily, you need a demarcated potty area. The best backyard dog potty area ideas take into account location, material and drainage. Choose an area that’s not too close to your outdoor living spaces or veggie garden but is still easy for your dog to access. You can then add grass, mulch, artificial grass, sand or gravel. Each has its pros and cons but pea gravel is one of the most popular choices because it’s easy to clean and gentle on paws. Be sure the spot is well-drained: You may have to add a layer of rocks underneath the material you choose. Then add a clear border and train your dog to use only this area for its potty needs.