How to Build a Dog Run in Your Backyard

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how to build a dog run in backyard

Dog runs are a great way to ensure your pup has space to exercise and play while still allowing you room to relax. You might have previously thought about purchasing a run but found that the prebuilt, pop-up style runs are unsuitable for your needs. Maybe due to the dimensions or the overall aesthetics. If this is the case, read on to discover how you can build a dog run made specifically for your needs.

Why you need a dog run in your backyard

Even if you have a fenced backyard where your dog can run and play, you might still be considering building a dog run. Many find that their dog can jump over fences, dig holes, or come up with other creative escape methods.

Even if your pooch is happy to stay within the confines of their backyard, you might prefer a separate space for them – particularly if you spend a lot of time outside or want to keep your gardens and vegetable patch intact!

The perks of building a dog run as opposed to buying a pre-made one are that you can choose exactly what it looks like, what size it is, and what features it has. It can be built to fit the space you’d like to allocate for your canine companion, as well as ensuring they’re still comfortable and you still have an attractive backyard.

What to consider when making a DIY dog run

When building your own dog run, you will need to consider several things. First of all, you will have to decide where the run is going to be built. Ideally, it will be close enough to the house for you to check on your dog regularly, but far enough away so that you both have your own space.

It is also a good idea to make sure your pooch will always have a shaded area and that the run is close to a water source to make filling up water bowls and cleaning out the run easier. If it’s not possible to choose an area with shade, you can always add a kennel or cover to the run.

It’s also important that your dog has enough room to run around and play, so consider the size of your dog when choosing a location. As a general rule, the space you need should be at least twice as wide and five times as long as the length of your dog but check to see if there are any existing laws in your area in regard to run size.

You will need to take certain aspects into account when choosing the materials to build your dog run. For example, if your dog is particularly strong, you will need to choose more sturdy fencing material, or if your dog is a jumper it might be a good idea to add a roof or cover to the run.

What you need to make a DIY dog run in your backyard

Chain link fencing is the most common type of enclosure as it is one of the most affordable, easily available materials. Although not the most attractive option, it can be easily painted to suit your yard better – green works best for landscaped gardens while brown blends in well with wood chips or fences.

If you don’t want to use chain fence, keep in mind that whatever fencing you choose should have big enough spaces for your dog to see out (and you to see in!) without being big enough for them to stick their head through. Wood or metal ornate fencing will give the run a higher-end look, while a plastic-coated wire fence is a good compromise between visual appeal and affordability.

Another big decision is what groundcover the run will be built on. Natural grass, woodchips, gravel, and concrete are popular choices, but all have their pros and cons:

Natural grass

  • A natural, soft ground that most dogs enjoy.
  • Will need to be cared for as with any other lawn, clumps can easily be pulled up during play, and brown patches will appear wherever your dog decides their ‘toilet’ is.

Wood chips

  • More visually appealing than other options.
  • Difficult to keep hygienic as the chips absorb urine and you will need to regularly replace the chips lost while picking up solid waste.


  • Pea gravel is rounder than normal gravel or chips and therefore less harsh on your dog’s
  • Gravel is still hard on paws and isn’t suitable for dogs who are prone to chewing on rocks.


  • Easy to lay and keep clean.
  • Not suitable for dogs with sensitive paws or in areas with full sun, as concrete gets hot quickly.

If none of these options suit you, you could always try paving stones, dirt, artificial grass or rubber padding. Again, these all have pros and cons so take your time researching each material to find one which best suits both your and your dog’s needs.

How to Build a Dog Run in Your Backyard

Building a dog run can be a fun, family-bonding experience, or perhaps you’d like to just call in a DIY expert and let them do the hard work, or just buy a doggy playpen. Either way, here’s a rough guide of what to expect when building a dog run in your backyard.

When you’ve chosen your location and materials, you might need to excavate the area to a depth of 3-6 inches, depending on what type of ground cover you will be using. For materials like wood chips, a few inches is enough, but concrete might need a deeper pad.

Next, you’ll need to dig holes for the fence posts. Remember to dig holes deep enough to secure the posts if your dog is fairly strong, and wide enough to pour concrete around to secure if needed. Your next task will be to construct the flooring (an easy task if you’ve opted for natural grass!) then put up the fencing. Remember to include a door or gate both you and your dog can fit through.

Once the basic run has been constructed, you can add extras such as shade, water bowls, and toys. Although we’ve called these ‘extras’, they are still necessary for your dog to be safe and have fun. After all, this is what dog runs are made for!

The video below shows a simplified run being made in just a few hours. This is a great solution if you are able to utilize your house and garden fence as sides to the run. Even if you’re not, it gives you a rough idea of what materials you’ll need and how to go about building a run.

Have a Separate Space for Your Dog!

If you want a separate space in your yard designated for your dog, then it’s time to build one! Dog runs are a great way to ensure your pup has space to exercise and play while still allowing you room to relax.

All you have to do is pick a location, have the right materials, and follow our very easy to guide to get you started with the project.

For more on helping your pup stay fit and healthy, see these articles:

The Best Ways to Exercise Your Dog

How to Check for Fleas In Your House

Best Dog Gate for Large Dogs

P.S. Help a friend learn how to build a backyard dog run by pinning this!

how to build a dog run in backyard