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Caitlin UltimoPet Lovers / Pet Parenting

Barkworthy Backyard Ideas for Your Dog

If your dog could speak, would he declare that your backyard needs a canine makeover? While you enjoy your new grill or fire pit or pool, your dog deserves to revel in a backyard that makes other canines drool with envy. Get inspired from these dog-friendly backyard ideas to make your ho-hum backyard into a grrr-eat doggy paradise.

Mimic the Tiny House Trend

The dog house is making a comeback, but with a 21st century twist. Today’s offerings are eye-catching, environmentally friendly and built stylishly like the current tiny house trend for people. Backyard canine abodes are meant for afternoon napping or easy escapes from weather flare-ups rather than full-time housing.

“Make sure the doggy house is sturdy and made with materials that are easy to clean and [do] not hold on to moisture,” says Liv Hagen, behavior modification and rehabilitation manager at Animal Humane Society in St. Paul, Minnesota. “You don’t want the dog house to be a breeding ground for mold and mildew.”

Stacy and Bob Wise, of Designer Dog Houses in Newport Beach, California, make a living creating a lineup of stylish dog houses with names like Indo House, Coastal Cottage and Tranquility Lodge. Their dog, Royal, enjoys breaks from backyard play by heading inside his Indo House, which resembles an Indonesian bungalow with bamboo accents and a thatched roof.

“Dog houses today represent owners who care about their dogs and want to treat them to something special,” says Stacy Wise. Their dog houses are designed to be waterproof and include UV protection, so the houses stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, she says.

Dog house in backyard

via Chewy.com

You also can go for the backwoods motif with a Precision Pet Products log cabin dog house, which comes in three sizes and is constructed to resist weather, pests, rot and rust. This DIY doggy house just requires a screwdriver and pliers to assemble.

For another DIY option, consider the Petsfit wooden hinged roof dog house. Constructed of weatherproof, anti-rot cedar wood, the house features a hinged roof you can raise to bring in cool breezes.

Keep It Simple with Raised Cots

Sometimes, simple is the best solution. While you enjoy the outdoors in a comfy lawn chair or recliner, treat your dog to a canine cot.
Raised cots allow for cool air to flow through and keep dogs elevated from dirt, mud or wet grass. Nice, right? Cots like Gen7Pets’ cool-air cot and Frisco’s elevated pet bed feature rustproof frames and durable, breathable fabric designed to endure outdoor weather.

For added style and function, K&H Pet Products’ pet cot offers a canopy (sold separately) that quickly attaches to the base cot to offer shade during sunny days.

Total DIYers can treat their dogs to a homemade-in-the-shade table. Take an old picnic table and saw the legs in half to shorten the height. Now your dog can lounge under the picnic table for shade or sit on top for sun.

Make a Splash with a Dog Pool

Many dogs love to swim, splash and plop down in cool water to refresh. Add a canine-sized pool in your backyard to make it a pup’s paradise.
Pools by One Dog One Bone come in paw and bone shapes and colors to dress up any backyard. These pools are made with UV-blocking polyethylene, the same material used in truck bed liners, which also makes them chew-proof, says creator Ray Palmer, of Goodyear, Arizona.

“Some dogs just like laying down in cool water and do not necessarily want to swim,” Palmer says. “Make sure the dog pool is made of durable material that can handle the heat and does not become brittle and break into sharp edges that can cut a dog’s mouth or cause other injuries.”

If you prefer a temporary pool for your pup, consider a foldable version, such as Cool Pup’s Splash About dog pool. Made of extra-tough PVC, this portable dog pool folds up to take on vacations or store when cold weather arrives.

Dog in a dog pool in a backyard

via Chewy.com

With any pool, set it up on a smooth, level surface, make sure it offers easy draining and fill it with fresh water. Never leave pets or small children unattended near the pool, and always supervise your dog’s pool time.

Punch Up Pool Time With Toys That Float

Up the canine pool fun factor with durable, floating dog toys. Ruff Dawg’s FlyingFish dog toy is made from nontoxic rubber and resembles a big fish. It features a hole you can attach a rope through for easy tosses or games of tug-of-war with your dog.

For Jaws fans, consider ZippyPaws’ Floaterz’s shark dog toy. This fun toy floats, squeaks and features chew-resistant borders.

Unleash Your Dog’s Inner Jock

For four-legged jocks, provide ample space for them to run, leap and catch. Make the game of fetch more fetching by hurling a Chuckit! flying squirrel toy to your canine pal. Made of soft, durable material the toy can float in pools as well.

Or, rest your throwing arm with iFetch’s Mini automatic ball launcher. Keep your energetic pup occupied with this automatic ball launcher, and you can finishing grilling the food.

Dog jumping in backyard agility run

via Chewy.com

If your dog loves agility, dedicate a portion of your yard to a mini-agility obstacle course. Weave poles, hurdles and nylon tunnels can be installed and stored easily. Just make sure the agility items are made for dogs and do not have sharp edges. Get started on your dog’s agility course with Cool Runners’ agility jump and Cool Runners’ agility weave poles.

Note: Make sure your dog does not overdo it, especially in hot weather. Pause play if he is panting heavily, his tongue is hanging out of his mouth and he is hesitating between fetches. These all signal that he is getting fatigued and needs water to rehydrate.

Great Garden Ideas

Got a dog who digs digging? Compromise by creating a DIY dog ball pit.

Fill an inexpensive plastic kiddy pool or a wood-framed box with sand, soft dirt or even grass clippings and stash some healthy dog treats, balls and squeaky toys inside. Get your dog in a sit and stay position, and then declare, “Find the buried treasures!” Applaud and praise him as he digs and discovers a treat or toy.

“Dog ball pits give dogs a better place to dig than your flower garden, so it is a win-win for you both,” Hagen says.

Mix up the types of canine treasures. This will keep the treats fresh and renew your dog’s interest in the toys.

Consider tasty nibbles like Barkworthies’ rabbit jerky or American Journey’s chicken biscuits. Plop in bargain-priced balls, such as the chew-safe Kong squeaker balls or a pack of GoDog retrieval balls.

You also can dedicate a garden plot just for your dog. Grow popular dog veggies, including carrots, broccoli, string beans and pumpkins, says Judy Macomber, a master gardener from Vista, California.

“All of these are nutritious additives to your dog’s diet,” Macomber says. “You can steam [them] to a softness and mix in with dry dog food.”
Designate a small section in your backyard to grow greens like barley or wheatgrass if your dog enjoys nibbling on grass.

Inspect your garden to make sure all the plants and flowers are dog friendly. Here’s a short list of safe plants for dogs:

  • Basil
  • Catnip
  • Dandelion
  • Fennel
  • Ice plant
  • Marigold
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Violet

Not sure if your plants are safe or toxic to pets? Check with your veterinarian or contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

Final tips: Make sure your dog cannot dig under the fence or use backyard furniture as a launching pad to jump over the barrier and escape. Store all mulch, fertilizers and compost in areas your dog cannot access.


Arden Moore, The Pawsitive Coach, is the founder of FourLeggedLife.com, host of the Oh Behave Show on Pet Life Radio and a master certified pet first aid instructor.

Feature Image: iStock.com/debibishop

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