A happy tan golden retriever is pictured against a green lawn, dripping with water from outdoor play.

How much time does your dog spend outside in the backyard every day? Dogs thrive when they have the daily opportunity to run around and expel their pent-up energy. 

Whether you have a large or small yard, you can enrich and excite the space for your family pup. Not only is the backyard one of a dog’s favorite parts of the home, but a well-rounded space can be safer and just as fun as a public park. 

Rather than taking a pup to a busy park or planning a day-long trip, they can enjoy the mental stimulation they need from the comfort of home. A dog-friendly backyard includes enough open area for the pup to play and has protection from common hazards, so getting started with the renovation means scanning the area for the unique dangers of your current yard. 

One of the main advantages of building a backyard oasis is the ability to fully customize the space to your dog’s personality. We’ve already helped you dream up your ideal dog-safe garden, but what’s stopping you from expanding on those ideas for the entire backyard? You can get highly creative with the yard’s setup, so keep reading for some inspiring ideas.

The Backyard Basics for Barkers

Creating a dog oasis that your pup will love starts with simple basics that you can build from as the space comes together. A safe outdoor area for a dog will consider the following factors: 

  • Fencing: A safe space for a dog begins with the fencing needed to keep them reliably contained within their designated area. An old fence may not be strong enough to hold up against a playing pup, leaving them vulnerable to escape. A strong fence is one of the basics for a safe yard because no one wants to chase their dog down the street. If you have a large breed, they may require a taller barrier to prevent a runaway pup situation. 
  • Soft terrain: A long day of playing outside can be tough on a dog’s paws. Rough terrain like gravel or concrete can be damaging to paw pads, leaving your dog in a constant state of discomfort if they continuously endure those conditions. Hard ground can also cause aches and pains just like in humans, leading to excessive and unnecessary joint deterioration. Opt for a softer terrain, like grass or moss. There are also porous synthetic materials you can use for walkways and plant bed areas, with the added benefit of replenishing soil moisture while managing runoff.

Toxic Plants to Avoid When Adding Greenery to Your Backyard

There are over 700 types of houseplants that are toxic to dogs. While we’ve covered many of these in our previous article on how to build a dog-safe garden, it bears repeating so that you can be sure you aren’t picking out anything toxic at the gardening store.

When building an outdoor oasis for you and your family pup, it is important to research what flora you want to include for toxic properties that can be harmful to pets. There are countless types of backyard plants that are attractive to the eye and safe for four-legged friends.  

On the other hand, pet owners planning to renovate their backyards should avoid including the plants listed below. These species are common in landscaping but aren’t safe for dogs: 

  • Aloe
  • Amaryllis
  • Autumn crocus
  • Azaleas
  • English ivy
  • Foxglove
  • Hydrangeas
  • Japanese yew
  • Lilies
  • Oleander
  • Rhododendrons
  • Sago palms
  • Tulips

Exposure to toxic plants can be life-threatening for dogs. Some early symptoms of toxic plant poisoning include: 

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Glassy eyes
  • Drooling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Stumbling 
  • Limited mobility 
  • Disorientation

If you have questions or concerns about the list of symptoms and believe your pup has been exposed to a toxic plant, contact the Animal Poison Control Center or, in an extreme case, rush the animal to an emergency vet. 

Block Off Outdoor Hazards

Before you allow your dog to roam around outside, it is critical to remove or block off any potential dangers. Every yard is set up differently, but some common outdoor hazards include: 

  • Outdoor HVAC units: A dog can get hurt if they get too close to an outdoor HVAC unit. These machines may have sharp pieces, and they pose a risk of electrocution. Not to mention, HVAC units are delicate and expensive machines. Having your dog playing around near one of these units could result in a malfunction or failure, temporarily leaving your home without air conditioning or heating. 
  • Pesticides and chemicals: Pesticides and other toxic gardening chemicals are dangerous for dogs. When you intend to share your backyard with your dog, the safest option is to search for a pet-friendly alternative. Not only could your dog accidentally get into a bottle of the toxic liquid, but long-term exposure from the grass and plants can lead to a build-up in their livers, kidneys, or fatty tissues, potentially leading to medical conditions down the road.
  • Tools and other sharp objects: When your dog is outside having too much fun, they may not register the dangers around them. Leaving sharp objects like gardening tools lying around can be a risk for cuts and deep lacerations. A shed can be a great way to organize these hazardous objects and protect your dog from the hazards while they play outside. 
  • Pools and drop-offs: Dogs should be fenced out completely from access to any pool areas. Areas of the yard where there are steep drop-offs should similarly be fenced, with a design that encourages dogs to travel the safer, longer way down as opposed to simply jumping from A to B.

What Else Can Entertain a Pup Outside?

Even though a dog doesn’t need much to have a good time, some additional toys and attractive features can make the space feel more special. Think about including the following backyard ideas for dogs: 

  • Digging pit: You work hard to keep your home looking nice and clean, but having a dog can sometimes make the task more of a challenge. Pups like to dig, and if you offer them a specific grassy patch to dig at, it can prevent them from fixating on another area of the yard that you’d prefer to keep in pristine condition. As an added bonus, the fresh dirt can keep them cool on hot and humid days.
  • Sandbox: Offering multiple types of train is a productive way to promote mental stimulation in a dog’s backyard oasis. A sandbox will give your pup more ground to dig at, and you can even hide toys in the sand for them to find later. 
  • Toys: Keep a toy box outside to give your dog some variety while they play. Many toys are interactive, so you can be involved in playtime, too. Fetch, tug-of-war, and chew toys are all great options to start an outdoor collection. Any toys should be regularly washed down and sanitized before being placed back in storage. Any toys that are damaged should be disposed of properly.
  • Hoops and hurdles: These apparatuses are commonly used in dog agility training and can be a great way to incorporate variety in their outdoor exercise. They can offer mental stimulation and be a great opportunity for muscle-building. Just be sure to get the right-sized hoop for your dog’s breed! 
  • Kiddie pool: In the sweltering heat of the summertime, going outside may not feel as fun. The summer sun can be exhausting and even dangerous if a dog is left exposed for too long. A kiddie pool is a great way to cool down while enjoying the warm outdoor weather, and you can even add pool toys to keep them entertained.
  • Other water features: A pool is not the only way to keep your dog cool and refreshed in the summertime. You can set up a hose or run the backyard sprinklers for them to run through and play in. Be sure to always supervise your pup while they play with water.   

The Outdoor Play Spaces at Greenlin Have Everything a Dog Needs for a Safe and Entertaining Afternoon

Every Greenlin Pet Resorts location is equipped with state-of-the-art pet playgrounds and other exciting canine equipment. We understand how important your dog’s safety is, so our facilities are designed with security at the forefront of the layout. For example, we have implemented a double-fencing system on all outdoor barriers and have soft terrain installed throughout the outdoor play spaces. 

All staff supervise animals closely, and they are trained to look out for signs of behaviors that could lead to unsafe situations. In the unlikely event of an accident, they are also prepared to spring into action since they are all trained in pet first aid and CPR.

Whether they’re coming to enjoy dog daycare or a dog boarding stay, there’s always something fun — but safe — for them to do, in all weather! We have swimming pools designed just for dogs at many of our locations, as well as indoor facilities when the weather is hot.

To learn more about how Greenlin keeps canine guests safe and comfortable during a stay, contact one of our six Harrisburg-area locations online! You can now book online for a reservation at any of our facilities.