21 Awesome Backyard Ideas for your Dog

Your dog is just as important as anyone else in the family, so when you’re building your dream backyard, it’s only natural that you’ll want to make sure it’s as dog-friendly as possible. Your considerations will be to keep Rover both safe and happy; remember that your dog will need supervision outside unless you’re sure that it’s completely safe for him. Check out some of these dog-friendly backyard ideas on a budget and make your yard into a haven for your furry friend.

We have listed 21 of the most fun-filled ideas anyone can come up with here!

Here are some of the more exciting ideas to start off with!

  • Consider a Short Picket Fence
  • Install a Solid Wood Fence
  • Set Up a Kiddie Pool
  • Grow Sunflowers and Other Safe Plants
  • Avoid Toxic Plants
  • Consider Pea Gravel Walkways
  • Install a Dog Kennel
  • Build a Dog House
  • Invest in Tennis Balls
  • And more!

Consider a Short Picket Fence

If you have a small dog, you don’t necessarily need a six-foot-tall solid backyard dog fence to keep her corralled. Instead, consider a shorter picket fence to add to your yard’s appeal while still maintaining your dog’s safety. The spaces between the slats will give you a more continuous view, but if your pup tends to be a barker, you could have the pickets placed so they’re touching to limit what she can see.

Puppy in garden

Install a Solid Wood Fence 

On the other hand, if your dog is large or known for his jumping skills, a solid wood fence is going to be a better bet. You could also choose PVC fencing for your dog, of course, but it will be more expensive. Wood is a more budget-friendly material for keeping Fido safely contained. Do be aware, however, that wood fences require some maintenance, so look into the details of various dog fence ideas for the backyard.

Picket fence

Set Up a Kiddie Pool

Splish, splash! Dogs of all sizes love kiddie pools. Keep it to a few inches deep if you have a shorter dog, and be sure to empty it regularly to avoid creating a haven for mosquitos and other creepy-crawlies. This is a great, low-cost addition to your summer backyard. One caveat: Avoid inflatable kiddie pools, since your pup’s jumping and playing will tend to cause punctures.

Puppy in swimming tub

Don’t Forget the Floaties

If you have a large pool, remember that just like toddlers, dogs should never be left unattended around them. Even dogs who swim well can drown if they get tired. With that being said, a swimming pool is a great treat for everyone during the dog days of summer. Get some puncture-proof floaties and kickboards for your pooch to rest on in between the dog-paddling fun.

Dog floating in pool

Grow Sunflowers and Other Safe Plants 

There’s no reason to avoid planting a garden in your backyard when you have a dog; just be sure to choose dog-friendly flowers and vegetables. Sunflowers, magnolias, and marigolds are just a few flowers that your dog can frolic near, and if you’re planting herbs, try rosemary, basil, thyme, and dill. It’s still a good idea to prevent your dog from snacking on the plants, but at least you’ll know they’re puppy-safe.

Dog on Hay

Avoid Toxic Plants

In that same vein, it’s important to avoid plants that are toxic to your dog. Some should never be used in yards where dogs play, and these include English ivy, mistletoe, and hemlock. Most lilies are toxic to dogs, and so are marijuana, larkspur, foxglove, bleeding heart, and any flower that grows from a bulb. Also, clear the yard of any wild-growing mushrooms that are not fit for human (or canine) consumption.

Poisonous plant

Keep the Grass Mowed 

Letting the grass grow too long can lead to hidden ant mounds, snakes, ticks, and other critters that can harm your dog, so be sure to keep to a reasonable length by mowing regularly. A short mow will keep your yard looking good, too. If your grass tends to be sharp or woody, consider replacing it with a softer grass that grows well in your area. It will be perfect for snooze-time!

Dog sleeping in yard

Consider Pea Gravel Walkways

If you have walkways in your yard or if you simply want to replace some of the grass with rocks, consider pea gravel. It is more comfortable than larger gravel on your dog’s feet, and it stays fairly cool and shouldn’t burn her paws on hot days. You can also hose it down on summer afternoons to cool it down should it get too warm.

Dogs on gravel

Install a Dog Kennel

If your dog will be spending time outdoors without close supervision, a large kennel or backyard dog run can make a comfortable and safe place for him to be. Choose one that is large enough for him to run around a bit, and be sure to provide shade, water, and somewhere soft and comfortable to nap. Dogs are pack animals and should spend most of their time indoors with their human pack, but a backyard dog kennel provides a different view for a while.

Dog behind a fence

Provide Plenty of Water 

Whether your dog is indoors or outdoors, it’s vital to have plenty of water available. This is important all year long but especially in the summer. Look for a heavy, wide water dish that won’t get tipped over easily, and change the water frequently to prevent bacteria buildup or insect infestation. If your pup is in a kennel, you can use a bucket that you clip to the side of the structure.

Puppy with bowl of water

Build a Dog House

Your pooch will need shade, and a backyard dog house will provide that and more! Many dogs love smaller, contained areas because they have evolved to appreciate the safety of a den. A cozy dog house will allow your pup to get away from the outdoor action if she needs to. There are many types available, from the very simple to the more elaborate, so choose what looks best in your yard!

Dog in a kennel

Invest in Tennis Balls

Many dogs love tennis balls; they roll, they bounce, and they’re perfectly sized for their mouths. Teach your dog to catch or fetch (or both), and let him get in a good workout chasing these balls around the yard. Tennis balls are also a great toy to have on hand if you don’t have a yard, as they can be easily enjoyed at the park or even a vacant tennis court. Stock up on these and don’t be caught without them.

puppy playing with tennis ball

Turn on a Sprinkler

Another fun, inexpensive addition to your dog-friendly backyard is a sprinkler. It will cool your dog off on hot days and the water will give him something to try to catch and run from. If she is not a fan of the rain and avoids the spray, try adjusting it so it only sprays a foot or so in the air. Once she gets used to that, you can gradually increase the height of the spray so she gets used to it.

Dog playing in sprinkler

Throw a Frisbee

Dogs who love to catch often appreciate a good game of frisbee. This is another toy that is easy to take with you to the dog beach, dog park, or wherever else you may find yourself with a dog who has some energy to expend. Dogs who are novice frisbee-players should start with the soft variety such as the ones that fold up. Once your dog understands the game, you can try upgrading to the hard plastic style.

Puppy with frisbee

Leave a Tree Stump

If you need to cut down a large tree, consider leaving part of the stump for a while. Small dogs will enjoy the new vantage point, and if you have two dogs of any size, they will often play “king of the hill.” Of course, you will want to make sure that it’s relatively smooth and doesn’t have large splinters. Also, once the stump starts to rot or attract insects, it’s time to have it removed.

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Set Up a Dog Bed Outdoors

If you’re spending long afternoons enjoying your backyard with your dog, you’ll want to make sure he has a comfortable napping spot. Either invest in a dog bed that is meant to be used outdoors or simply build up a pallet with some soft blankets that are easy to wash. If you have soft outdoor furniture, this is another option; she will love curling up on a patio sofa if that’s what you have available.

Puppy in backyard

Shovel the Snow

If your dog loves the snow, then this is not a consideration, but many shorter dogs don’t like when it accumulates under their bellies. If your pooch is not a fan of the cold white stuff, shovel out an area for him to go potty and play even on the chilliest days. It helps if you have one section of the yard that is paved, but you can even shovel a path or a section of grass to keep toes and tummies from getting too snowy while in the backyard potty area.

Puppy in bed

Use Your Yard to Train Your Dog 

Many people want their dogs to walk nicely on a leash or come back when called, but it’s difficult to teach these skills on a busy street or while at the park with so many interesting things to look at and sniff. Start the training in your own backyard! It will help your dog become more comfortable with the commands you’re teaching her to follow, and you know she’ll be safe in a familiar place, especially if you have a backyard dog gate.

Puppy in snow

Set Up a Playground

You might already have a backyard playground set up for your children, so why not let Rover play, too? You don’t necessarily need a dedicated dog backyard playground. In general, if your dog can get himself to a particular level of the playscape, he can also get himself down, but you will need to watch carefully. Don’t let your children carry a dog up onto the platforms, as he might not be able to get down safely. Instead, allow your pup to explore at his own pace.

Dog with owner

Create an Obstacle Course 

Your dog wants nothing more than to be with you, and that includes during your workout. Set up some hurdles or other track-and-field type equipment and watch her light up. You can also put up a tunnel for her to run through, inclined boards for her to run up, and even a seesaw to encourage her to balance her weight as she walks up and then back down.

Dog in a slide

Install Poles for Weaving

Once your dog gets the hang of these weaving poles, he will want to run back and forth through them all the time. These are great for teaching your dog how to follow directions; they also improve his physical fitness and dexterity. Setting up posts for weaving is a budget-friendly way to make your yard more appealing to your dog.

Dog playing with poles


With all of these ideas, you’re sure to be able to put together a lovely dog backyard for your best furry friend! And, of course, if you don’t have a backyard, many of these ideas can be modified to use at parks and playgrounds as long as dogs are allowed to be there. Spending time in the great outdoors with your furry family member is a great way to bond and improve your dog’s health at the same time. Enjoy!

About The Author

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Michelle Kulas


Michelle Kulas has been writing professionally since 2008 in a variety of niches. She is a gardener and enjoys spending time with her family and her dog in her sunny Southwest Florida backyard. When she's not writing or in the garden, you can find her cooking or volunteer with foreign exchange students.