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Create a Dog-Friendly Backyard Play Area

by Paula Felps

At The Dog Park

After a hard day at work, there's nothing like hanging out in the back yard with your best friend. Creating a fun, dog-friendly outdoor space is easier than you think—and makes a great escape for both of you that is always waiting right outside your back door!

When planning your homemade hideaway, think about the things that you and your four-legged friend enjoy doing together. Although it's easy to get excited about all the possibilities, keep it simple and avoid overpowering your yard with playthings.

Instead, choose something the two of you can enjoy, such as:

  1. A sandbox or a wading pool.
  2. An open play area.
  3. A shady place to relax.


Built for two

Fran Kiesling, owner of Dirty Dog Landscape Consulting & Design in Minnetonka, Minn., suggests combining two or three elements to create the ideal outdoor oasis.

"Give a couple of options so your dog can decide at any given time if he wants to be warm or cool, or walk on something that is hard or soft," she says. Soft, cool elements (like sod) provide the perfect complement to warmer, hard surfaces (a deck or patio). "And if you really want to make him happy, create special areas where you can play games like keep-away, king of the hill, or catch!"

Run with it!

Kiesling's other suggestions for creating the perfect backyard haven include:

  • Create tunnels: "You can get a tunnel to run through or, if you don't want to buy an actual tunnel, create one out of shrubs. Give him an opening he can run through—he will love that!"
  • Keep it in scale: "If you have a toy breed, make sure everything is lower to the ground than you would if you had a Labrador or a Golden Retriever. And always keep in mind what he's interested in."
  • Look at your back yard from your pet's point of view: If he loves chasing a ball or catching a Frisbee®, an open area where the two of you can play will be fun for both of you. If he enjoys running, leaving space in the yard will make him extra happy.


"When you're creating a yard for you and your dog, you want it to be big on durability and be functional," Kiesling says. "But most of all, you want your dog to be happy."

This article is courtesy of Dog's Life magazine by Beneful® brand Dog Food.

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  • Great suggestions. Looking forward to trying some of these ideas.

    Ann C October 10th, 2012

  • Nice

    Jaylee C October 19th, 2012

  • Nice.

    Jaylee C October 19th, 2012

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