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Creating and Maintaining a Dog-Friendly Yard

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Whether you’ve got a small outdoor space or a sprawling lawn, there’s just something special about hanging out with your dog in your own backyard. 

That said, not all landscapes are created equal. Read on for some tips on turning your yard into an enriching, dog-friendly safe space (along with some helpful tips for protecting your yard from your rambunctious pet!).

Fun Features for a Dog-Friendly Backyard

You don’t need the fanciest, most expensive landscaping features to create a pet-friendly yard. Even the most bare-bones backyard can be a fun play area for your dog, as long as you prioritize your pet’s safety. 

Ideally, any dog-friendly yard should have a fence, plenty of shade, and access to water at all times. You can fence in your entire yard or a designated dog area; you can also opt for invisible electric fences if you want more of an open feel. 

If you want to take it a step further, try out some of the following ideas: 

Backyard Agility Course

Agility courses, or obstacle courses for dogs, are great for exercising your dog’s body and mind. Plus, it’s a perfect opportunity to spend some quality bonding time with your pup. 

Look for items you already have at home, such as hula hoops and cardboard boxes. You can also use PVC pipes as weave poles, pool noodles as jump hurdles, and a stable plank of wood as a teeter-totter. 

Don’t be afraid to use your imagination—just make sure everything is safe and secure before you send your dog jumping and weaving through the agility course. 


There’s no denying the fact that dogs love to dig. Digging can be an outlet for stress or frustration, a form of entertainment, or even a way to cool off. 

Instead of trying to force your dog to quit this instinctive habit, build him a sandbox as his very own designated digging zone! Of course, you’ll need to spend some time training your pup to dig in the right spot, but ideally, this will keep his digging contained and spare the rest of your yard from damage. 

Water Features

From lounging in kiddy pools to splashing through water sprinklers, water is practically a must for any backyard. 

If you have a backyard pool or live near a lake or river, it’s a good idea to get your dog a canine flotation device—even if he knows how to swim. You never know what might cause your pup to panic in the water, and a life jacket will guarantee that he stays above the water at all times. 

Patrol Paths

Dogs are creatures of habit, and often love to carve out paths by patrolling the perimeter of your yard. As with digging, this instinctive dog behavior isn’t something you should try to stop.

Instead, embrace those worn-down patrol paths by laying down mulch or stone along your pup’s regular route for a design that looks more intentional (and, ideally, a lot less muddy). 

Protecting Your Dog from Your Plants (and Vice Versa) 

For pet owners who are also avid gardeners, be assured that having a garden and a dog aren’t mutually exclusive. 

You could try installing a fence around your garden or opt for a raised garden bed to keep your pup’s paws out of your plants. You could also put your plants in out-of-reach pots or use heavy stones as ground covers. 

You should also be intentional about which plants you put in your garden. We advise against particularly expensive plants, just because you never know what kind of mischief your pup could get into. 

Avoid plants that are toxic for dogs, such as: 

  • Azaleas
  • Lilies
  • Hydrangeas
  • Ivy
  • Chrysanthemum 
  • Daffodil 

We love non-toxic, flea-repelling plants such as: 

  • Catnip
  • Marigolds
  • Rosemary
  • Sage

Be mindful of the fertilizers you use, too. Either use a pet-safe fertilizer, or be sure to keep your dog away from your lawn for a few days after application. 

Urine Burn? Try These Grass Alternatives for Dogs 

Does your dog’s pee ruin your lawn? The good news is that those yellow, brown, or bare patches throughout your yard are a sign that your pup’s pee is perfectly healthy. Your grass, on the other hand, could use a bit of TLC. 

Fortunately, there are a few grass alternatives you can try, including: 

  • Mulch
  • Rocks or gravel (just make sure the area is paw-friendly
  • Clover
  • Artificial turf
  • More durable grass blends

If you prefer to keep your regular grass, you can try training your dog to use a low-visibility section of grass as his designated bathroom area.

Keep Grass Green with Pet Honesty

Understandably, you want to keep your lawn looking beautiful and free of urine burn spots. If you’re not a fan of grass alternatives but still want to maintain a lush green lawn, try Pet Honesty’s GrassGreen Chews

These tasty soft chews use a blend of natural ingredients to reduce the nitrogen levels in your dog’s urine—the culprit of those unsightly brown and yellow spots. Plus, enzymes and probiotics work to keep bowel movements regular and healthy, creating a healthier digestive tract overall.