13 Fun Backyard Ideas for Dogs on a Budget
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Designing a space outdoors specifically for your dogs is a great way to let them play and release some energy outside of the living room — not to mention, a place to rest their paws after a ruff day. Dogscaping your backyard doesn’t have to be tricky or hard on the wallet. With these simple and budget-friendly backyard ideas for dogs, you can ensure your furry friend has all the amenities they love and need.
Plus, these ideas can work for outdoor spaces that are on the smaller side and you can and include sustainable materials in your design or reuse items from your home.
1. Set Up Fencing
One of the most essential elements of a dog-friendly backyard is the right fencing. Having a fence in your yard not only keeps your dogs from venturing off but also provides a separate area from the humans. For example, adding an additional fence to create their own area in the backyard can allow a dog-free zone for people if you decide to have guests over.
When setting up a fence in your backyard, consider choosing a fencing material that matches the style of landscape you have in your yard and that it’s sturdy enough for even the most curious dogs. Some great fencing materials include:
Vinyl: Vinyl is cheaper than wood and doesn’t rot or warp. Plus, it’s very sturdy and easy to clean.
Chain link: Although these aren’t the most stylish, they are the cheapest material to use for fencing. They’re also see-through, giving your pup a chance to view the world.
Wood: If your dog is a barker, a fence made from wood can help block the sound. Plus, wooden fences are typically on the taller side, which can help prevent your dog from jumping over.
Time: 3 days
Cost: ~$13 per foot of fencing material
2. Designate a Digging Area
Digging is a natural habit for dogs, but can be very frustrating if your pup makes their way into your favorite flower bed. Instead of discouraging them from digging altogether, create a designated area that they can use. To create their own area, try using blocks of wood or bricks to outline a specific area in your yard — preferably out of sight since it can look messy. Then, fill in this area with loose dirt or sand.
To take things a step further, you can also build a DIY dog sandbox. Get your dog interested by hiding some bones and treats under the sand. However, this feature isn’t maintenance-free — be sure to keep a shovel or rake close by to clean up messes.
Time: 3–5 hours
Cost: ~$200 to build a sandbox
3. Build Wandering Paths
Dogs love sniffing around and exploring in the outdoors, so make sure to set up wandering paths throughout the yard. When building these wandering paths, be sure to pick materials that won’t get too hot or uncomfortable on their paws during hot summer days.
These materials are therapeutic and cool, like smooth cobblestones or green lawns. Or you might consider clover, which is tougher than grass and safe for dogs to eat. Synthetic turf is also ideal to get dogs to stop digging (outside designated areas) and is low-maintenance.
Mulch is also great for walkways — it’s inexpensive, doesn’t get too hot and helps to naturally fight off fleas and ticks. Please note that you should avoid cocoa mulch as this is toxic to pets.
Time: 1–2 days
Cost: ~$7 per square foot of turf
4. Utilize Plants
Plants are a great way to spruce up any outdoor space, but it’s important to consider your pet before incorporating any plants, as some can be toxic. Here are some helpful do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:
Use organic fertilizers and pesticides.
Choose plant species that reduce flea problems, like rosemary, mint and lavender.
Consider including urine-resistant plants like burkwood osmanthus and euonymus japonicus to keep your garden looking green.
Use toxic plants, such as lily of the valley, monkshood, iris and foxglove.
Avoid plants with thorns to keep your yard as comfortable as possible for your pet as they explore.
For an added bonus, set up your own sensory garden that includes calming plants such as rosemary or lavender.
Time: 2–4 days for a full landscape project
Cost: ~$1 for a pack of seeds
5. Create a Dining Area
Build a designated food area for your dog outside that gives them a special place to enjoy their meals. To do this, consider building your dog a platform or an elevated food stand that keeps the bowls off the ground and nice and tidy.
As an alternative to buying a food stand, you can also make your own! If you have any large buckets from Home Depot lying around, you can use them as a stand by cutting out a smaller circle from the bottom so the food bowl can rest inside.
To do this, flip over the bucket and trace a circle just wide enough for the bowl. Cut out the circle using a knife or sharp blade. Then, place the bowl inside the hole, making sure the rims of the bowl rest on the sides of the cutout space.
Time: <1 hour
Cost: ~$25 for a dog food platform
6. Add a Water Feature
On hot summer days, your dog may appreciate an additional water feature in your backyard to stay hydrated. Consider adding a foldable dog pool to your backyard setup so your pup can splash around and cool off. You can also utilize your sprinklers and play a game of fetch in them.
If you decide to install a dog pool or pond in your backyard, make sure it’s easy for them to enter and exit. Small pools should have a gentle slope and shallow steps, or use a kamper-Ramp so they can easily walk out of the water.
Time: 1 hour
Cost: ~$30 for a foldable dog pool
7. Prioritize Shady Areas
If your dog is spending many hours outside during warm months, it could pose a danger by causing overheating and dehydration. To avoid this, make sure you create a place for your dog to cool off. It could be as easy as setting up an umbrella in your backyard or hanging up an overhead tarp.
If you also want to create a nice space for humans to relax in the backyard, you can take it a step further and set up a gazebo for your dog and guests to enjoy on hot summer days.
Time: 2 hours
Cost: ~$50 for an umbrella
8. Build a Dog House
A classic element of a dog-friendly backyard is their own personal dog house. Instead of buying an expensive dog house at the store, get crafty and build your own. Before you start this DIY project, there are three main factors to consider:
Size: Don’t make the dog house too big — having too much space won’t provide enough insulation during colder months — but be sure to make it large enough so they have room. For reference, most dog houses for medium-sized dogs are around 30” x 35” x 32”.
Elevation: The dog house should have a floor that is slightly above the ground. This is ideal to prevent water from seeping in on rainy days. Plus, having a floor that is higher will keep things warmer from the cold ground during winter months — your pup will be able to enjoy it year-round!
Safety: Make sure all nails are drilled correctly and other sharp surfaces are sanded down — you don’t want your dog stepping on anything sharp.
Although it’s a pricier item on the list, a dog house is an investment that will last and something your pup is sure to love. Follow this simple DIY dog house tutorial and be sure to check out these coupons to save on tools and building materials.
Time: 1–3 days
Cost: ~$100 for a DIY dog house
9. Construct a Doggy Playground
If your dog has a ton of energy, a doggy playground may be just what they need to burn off some steam! Plus, it’s a great way to keep them entertained while they’re home alone.
Doggy playgrounds are fairly simple — all you need to do is set up some obstacles in your yard. Think about materials that they can jump over or climb through. You can use balance beams, pipes or other recycled items found in your house, like old tires or kids’ toys. Just be sure that any items you use don’t have splinters, small pieces, or sharp parts that could detach and pose a choking hazard. Or you can even buy your own agility training kit for them to use!
Time: >1 day
Cost: ~$70 for a dog agility kit
10. Create a Drinking Area
A drinking area is a must for any outdoor space with dogs. Make sure they have all the water they need with a designated drinking area. To incorporate this into your backyard, you can consider investing in a pet water fountain. You can also add in a zen waterfall feature so it also doubles as a nice decor piece for your backyard.
These water fountains are very beneficial as they provide fresh, clean water for your pet without you having to do any work. And since the water is continuously circulating, it stays cooler as it’s not sitting stagnant in the sun.
Time: >1 hour
Cost: ~$25 for a pet water fountain
11. Add Marking Spots
Dogs like to mark their territory, so create designated marking spots in the yard to discourage them from marking areas in your yard like your favorite flower beds or outdoor furniture. To create this area for your dog, you can invest in a fake fire hydrant (dogs like prominent features to mark their territory on) or even something as simple as large stones or pieces of driftwood.
Additionally, to avoid urine stains in the grass, you can utilize artificial turf. This material is easy to clean and won’t turn yellow like grass will. However, artificial pet turf can absorb odors — to combat this, treat with urine odor eliminator formula.
Time: >1 hour
Cost: ~$30 for a fake fire hydrant
12. DIY Outdoor Dog Bed
If your dog needs a place to rest tired paws, create a DIY dog bed specifically for the outdoors that they can enjoy and be cozy on. Your furry friend will love lounging on their bed while hanging with you outside. To cut down on costs, try making your own — no sewing required! All you need is two large fleece pieces of fabric, a measuring tape, Poly-Fil (or stuffing from old pillows) and fabric scissors. Check out this tutorial from Miss Frugal Mommy for a step-by-step guide.
Instead of making your own dog bed, you can treat your pup to an elevated dog bed, which keeps them off the ground where it can either get too hot or too cold based on the season.
Time: 1–2 hours
Cost: ~$24 for an outdoor dog bed
13. Add in a Peep Hole
Perhaps the most fun backyard idea for dogs is a peephole. A dome peephole is a clear plastic bubble that’s placed in an opening of a fence so your dog can see what’s going on outside. This feature may also help quiet barking dogs since they’ll be able to see who’s walking by, not to mention a cute view for those on the other side of the fence!
Before you set this up, consider the height of where you need to place it in the fence. For example, you want this peephole to be placed about standing height for your dog where they can easily peer out. Since your dog will be able to see outside, they may get excited and want to jump — make sure your fence is extra sturdy to avoid any accidents. As an alternative, you can also create a window cutout in a fence or gate.
Time: ~1 day
Cost: ~$30 for a dome peephole
With these simple and easy backyard ideas for dogs, you’ll have a stunning outdoor space that you and your furry friends can enjoy this summer. For more fun for your pets, check out these coupons from for additional savings.
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