Make a dog-friendly backyard with this outdoor dog area ideas

In this article, I’ll show you how to set up a cozy and beautiful place for your dog in your backyard. It should be a safe place where your dog can rest or play without destroying your plants or making a mess. You can even leave your dog there while you’re at work.

I’ve put together the best outdoor dog area ideas with photos to give you some inspiration.

A step-by-step guide on how to make an outside dog area

First, let’s make a minimum plan for equipping the yard for the dog. Then I’ll give you some additional ideas.

Step 1 – Choosing a dog house for the backyard

Whether you decide to make the house yourself or buy a ready-made one, the most important thing is that it should be quality made:

  • with a good roof and without gaps in the walls;
  • waterproof, made of durable material.

It is also important that the house can be cleaned inside. Sometimes for this purpose there is a removable roof or an additional door. I think, it’s better to choose a wooden house rather than plastic. It will last longer and won’t fly away in strong winds.

An example of houses that I like:

Last update on 2024-02-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2024-02-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2024-02-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How big should an outdoor dog house be? There should be enough room inside for your dog to stand up to his full height, turn around, and sit down. So measure your dog's height and length and add at least 2-3 inches to those numbers.

Step 2 – Choosing a spot

When choosing a spot for the dog house, consider factors such as:

  1. This place should not be under the scorching sun all day. It is ideal to place the doghouse in the shade of a tree.
  2. Choose an elevated place so that the dog kennel will not be flooded with water when it rains.

You can set up a dog area right next to the house, so the dog can go in and out through his doggie door, as shown in the video:

A side yard can also be used:

dog area on the backyard

Step 3 – Set up a fence and a canopy

If you’re going to leave your dog unsupervised in the yard, it’s best to build a secure fence around the dog play area:

  • you can be sure that your pet can’t run away;
  • you can keep your pet away from dangerous areas or plants in the garden;
  • it will help protect the rest of your garden from the furry ” pooper” and his marks;
  • you can leave the dog in the pen when you have guests, for example.

A wooden fence is fine if you leave the dog in the yard only for short periods of time and he doesn’t tend to run away and chew on furniture. In other cases, it is better to use a solid metal fence.

outdoor dog area

If you want to set up a place for walking, plan enough space for the dog to run and play. The length of the pen should be at least 5 dog lengths, and the width of the pen should be 2 dog lengths.

If your dog doesn’t have a house, you must at least make a shelter to protect him from the sun and rain. One of the easiest ways is to put a tarp over it. But this is not very durable and reliable.

If you’re serious, you should build a canopy made of metal or wood:

Step 4 – Choosing a ground cover

You also need to think about what to cover the floor of your dog’s outdoor space with. It’s not good to just leave your dog on the ground because it will get very dirty. You might consider floor coverings like:

  • rubber mats;
  • gravel;
  • artificial turf;
  • wooden panels;
  • paving stones, concrete.

The last two options are suitable for dogs that tend to dig. Concrete is easy to clean, but it can get very hot if you live in a hot state.

outdoor dog area

You can place a dog play area on your existing flooring if that’s convenient. Keep in mind that natural grass is not the best option because it is relatively difficult to care for (mowing, watering, pest control treatment).

outdoor dog area
outdoor dog house

Step 5 – Make a potty area

It’s best to designate a separate area for the dog’s toilet to keep your yard clean. After all, you may end up with stains from dog pee on your lawn. Plus, it’ll be much easier for you to clean up after your pet.

I recommend setting aside a small toilet area in the entire pen to train your dog to go to a specific place. To delineate this area, a low curb or something like that will work.

outdoor dog potty area from grass

To decide how to make a potty area, think about where your pet prefer to go to pee more? Maybe he likes to do it in the grass or in the sand. Or maybe he likes to put his foot up on fire hydrants.

outdoor dog potty area with gravel

One of the most appropriate materials for a potty area is mulch or wood chips. They absorb moisture well, but the mulch needs to be changed periodically.

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Outdoor dog area ideas for large backyard

If you have a large yard and can provide plenty of space for your dog, here are some ideas.

Water Fun

Dogs usually love to play in the water. And in the summer, it also helps them not to overheat. You can set up a pool, fountain, or other water activities.

pool for dogs
Image Source: Aaron Franks

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outdoor dog area with pool


You can set up different tunnels, stairs with ramps and pools with balls. This won’t only keep your dog busy, but also promote good physical and mental development.

The dog playground can be made from improvised items, or you can buy agility equipment:

Last update on 2024-02-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If your dog likes digging, he’ll surely love the sandbox:

outdoor sandbox for dogs

Sensory Garden

An interesting option is to create a sensory garden for your dog. This is similar to the sensory mats for children. Its purpose is to engage the different senses, such as touch, smell, hearing, and taste. The BBC reports that this has a positive effect on the emotional state of the animal. It also relieves boredom.

dog walking in the garden

An example of what can be placed in a sensory garden:

  • plants for touch, smell and sound (but make sure the plants are safe for the dog);
  • tree stumps and rocks to create different levels;
  • wind spinners;
  • gentle chimes;
  • garden decorations;
  • fountains, ponds;
  • digging pit.

Here are some ideas for such a garden:

Outdoor dog kennel

The cage should be designed especially carefully for a dog that lives outdoors. It should include a house and a fenced area where your dog can stretch his muscles. 

An outdoor dog kennel should provide your pet with security. This include:

  • a secure fence that prevents your dog from getting out and running away, and protects your pet from wild animals;;
  • a shelter from the weather (the doghouse and especially its roof must be made of durable material that can protect the dog from the scorching rays of the sun and water);
  • protection from the cold. Not all dogs can withstand the winter cold. So you need to insulate the kennel with insulation material. You can also install a heater.

Only a professional can build a good dog kennel. If you don’t have experience in carpentry, I’d recommend you to order a ready-made dog kennel. Here is an example:

Bonus: more outdoor dog area ideas

outdoor kennel  for dog
dog outdoor house
dog-friendly backyard
dog-friendly backyard

I hope these ideas help you create the perfect outdoor dog area! Keep your pet’s needs and preferences in mind, as well as your own, then you will succeed!


What is the best outdoor surface for dogs?

Many admit that the grass is not very comfortable. Instead, it is better to cover the surface with small stones, gravel or crushed limestone.

What ground cover can survive dog pee?

Recommended shrubs and herbs that are dog urine resistant include basil, oregano, parsley, peppermint and rosemary. If you’re looking to purchase ground cover and dog resistant shrubs,Ā carpet bugle, elfin thyme, kinnikinnick, miniature stonecrop, silver carpet, snow-in-summer and wintercreeperĀ are more urine resistant.

How can I make my patio pet friendly?

To make your patio safe for your dog, you need to build a secure fence and make sure there are no dangerous plants for dogs growing there.

Is it enough to walk the dog only in the backyard?

No, for the development of your dog, you need to take him out for a walk outside the house from time to time.

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