Friday, August 7, 2009

How to Build a Dog Run

By Ruthie Bently

Have you ever wanted a safe place for your dog? Or do you just need a place for your dog to relieve themselves that is easy to control for pick up reasons? A dog run can be a great solution. It’s a place you can put your dog without them having to be leashed.

The first consideration is location. Pick a spot that will give you easy access to the dog run. You don’t want it too far away from the house door. You should also be able to see it from the house, and shouldn’t put your dog in their run without someone being home to supervise them. Make sure the location is large enough for the run.

Another thing to consider is whether your dog is a jumper or a digger. The run fencing should be tall enough to keep your dog from jumping over it. My AmStaff Katie went over a six foot fence from a standing start, which was a feat I never thought possible. The fencing for Skye’s dog yard is in different heights from four to six feet; she does not have the inclination to jump the fence, though I know she is capable of doing so. If you’re worried about your dog climbing the fence, you can always put a top on the run. This way your dog won’t get out and nothing will get in to bother them either.

If you have a digger, consider burying the bottom of your chain link fence down about eighteen inches. Or take chicken wire or an extra piece of chain link fence and bury it down far enough to dissuade your dog from digging, and attach it to the body of the main dog run fence. The breeds that are most apt to be diggers are sled dogs and wolf hybrids, although any dog can be a digger if there is something on the other side of the dog run fence that they want to get to. You will know best if an eighteen inch depth is enough, and you can adjust this depending on your own digging machine. Another way to dissuade diggers is to sink the posts of the dog run in cement. Our dog run fence is made to be free-standing and there are several natural plants as barriers on the outside of the run.

Shade is an important factor especially in the hotter months of the year. Some part of the dog should be in a shady area or able to be shaded by another means. You should also provide fresh water in your dog run, replaced daily to keep it from getting fouled by bugs or plants falling in, or algae growth. A dog house can be added for the winter months, though I suggest putting the house on the outside of the fence and cutting an access to it through the fence, unless your run has a top. Make sure the dog house is too heavy for your dog to push out of the way, to escape the run. The main reason for putting the house outside the run is to keep your dog from using it as a launching pad to get over the fence.

Making the run itself can be the labor intensive part, but well worth it. If you are going to make a graveled dog run, here’s how you do it. First, after you’ve decided how large your run should be, pick a place with the above requirements. Measure out the space where you want the run, and mark it off. Then dig down at least six inches and remove all the dirt from your space, leveling the bottom as well as possible. Put down a 2 inch layer of lime, which will help break down the urine and any feces washed into the gravel in the run. Next, put a two inch layer of large pea gravel (about 1 to 1-1/2 inch in diameter). Over the pea gravel put another layer of smaller pea gravel. This is what your dog will walk on.

If you have a dog with larger feet, you can pick a larger variety of pea gravel. You can use any stone, but pea gravels tend to be more rounded and without sharp edges. You can also use cement as a floor for your run, which is easy to hose off but could be rough on the pads of your dog’s feet if they are a pacer. Some people choose wood chips as well, but I don’t suggest them, as they can be full of bugs and bacteria can grow on them.

Remember, these are my personal observations and each dog is different. If you have more than one dog, you should consider their individual traits when you build a dog run.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently


  1. I must say, it's one of the best articles on this topic, thanks a lot for posting it.


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