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13 budget-friendly backyard ideas for dogs

backyard ideas for dogs
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If you're looking to entertain your pooch, these budget-friendly backyard ideas for dogs are perfect for keeping active minds busy.

If hitting the park has become tedious, you'll be surprised by how many fun activities you can try out in your own dog-friendly backyard.

Most of these are considered with cost in mind, so you don't always need to fork out lots of cash. In fact, often you can simply round up a few of the best dog toys from the toy box or some common household items and create some outdoor dog activity magic.

These ideas are also perfect for pet owners who are keen on exploring the world of dog enrichment. Our canine companions have a keen sense of smell; many playful dog breeds in particular love nothing more than discovering the environment around them, so look to meet their enthusiasm with plenty of activities designed to excite their senses.

Backyard ideas for dogs

1. Treasure hunt

dog sniffing treat

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Keep your pooch's senses sharp with a treasure hunt just for them. It's a particularly fun activity for canines that were originally bred as hunting dogs and who love to follow a trail.

All you need to do is hide plenty of treats throughout your backyard, using a range of spaces within reach. Plant pots are always a good idea, but try placing them at different heights too. If your dog is new to this game, look to hide treats that are fairly easy to find at first.

Once you're ready to begin, show your dog to their first treat and continue to encourage them to find the others. A simple "find the treat" command should be sufficient to get your poochy pal's tail wagging.

2. Sensory garden

dog sensory garden

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A sensory garden is a specific area set up to stimulate your dog's senses through materials and textures; scents and heights. The idea is particularly effective for dogs who are nervous in a new environment, it can reduce stress and anxiety.  

Some ideas to set up your own sensory garden include planting calming plants such as rosemary or lavender. Make sure to check there are no plants in your yard that could cause harm to your pooch. Wooden stumps can act as a perfect way to encourage natural agility in your dog.

Plan out different textures for your yard: grass, sand, cobblestones, and wood chippings can all work, but make sure you avoid gravel as this can be easily swallowed by dogs.

3. Agility course

backyard ideas for dogs

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If you have a particularly energetic hound in the family, then looking for ways to burn off their excess energy becomes essential. Some dogs just love to please; an agility course is fun for you and your competitive pooch.

Great objects to include in your course include hoops held at height for your pooch to jump through. Some common household items can do the trick too – if you happen to have some PVC pipes leftover from a DIY project, that's ideal.

Kids often have play tunnels they've outgrown that can work for dogs, while even a cardboard box can provide a DIY tunnel.

4. Pool party

Dog in swimming pool

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When the weather gets hot, our furry friends need a little extra help cooling down. A great way to do this is to set up a pool for dogs to splash about in. 

It's best to look for one specially devised for pets, as safety and durability is paramount, but some family pools you may already own can also work for dogs, providing they are large and tough enough to handle a spot of canine splashing about.

If you want to go all out, a sprinkler pool for dogs not only cools them down but holds their attention too.

5. DIY playground 

dog playground

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If you want to go one step further than an agility course, then why not create an entire playground for dogs? Some pet owners with DIY know-how have built playgrounds for their dogs from wood that include ramps, swings, and a pool. 

It's all about creating an exciting play area for your dogs to enjoy. Look to pair objects together such as ramps, pallets, and even their own outdoor kennel together so your dog can go from place to place with ease.

6. Digging pit

dog sandpit

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If you find yourself constantly asking, 'why is my dog digging everything in sight?' then it could be time to set up a digging pit in your backyard.

This can be as simple as burying dog treats and toys in an unused flower border to encourage him to focus his digging on that one area of the garden. 

However, if you're looking for a convenient excuse to fork out for a pool for dogs, why not turn it into a sandpit and bury objects on the days it's not filled with water? That way, you'll have two activities for the price of one.

7. Water station

dog water tap

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Providing your pup with plenty of water outdoors is an essential consideration for any pet owner, but if you want to go one step further than placing bowls, opt for a water station.

You can set up a portable canopy, or use an existing back porch, to create a shady spot for your canine. Some pet owners get inventive with a hose and plastic buckets to create an endless supply of water for their pooch, but if you don't have DIY skills, consider placing a water fountain for pets or use an outdoor tap attachment instead.

8. Dog-friendly deck

dog friendly deck

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If you're blessed with a deck in your yard, it's also a great opportunity to set up a sensory deck for your pooch. Look to set up their raised dog beds on the floor with a few of their favorite throws and place dog-safe herbs, such as dill, mint and rosemary, nearby to entice their senses.    

Safeguard the area without blocking your view by using plexiglass or acrylic sheets to the rails. Be sure to avoid any materials such as wire or netting, which can actually do more harm than good.

9. Provide dog enrichment toys 

kong

(Image credit: Kong)

The easiest way to keep your dog entertained in the backyard is to provide plenty of chew and enrichment toys to keep them from digging up the grass.

The most well-known of these is the Kong Classic, which can be frozen on hot days. Once you have purchased the main product, filling it can be fairly inexpensive, with common Kong recipes using products from your kitchen such as Greek yogurt, some fruit and vegetables, and of course your dog's favorite kibble.

10. Pet-friendly landscaping

dog friendly landscaping

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If you're looking to create the perfect dog-friendly backyard as a backdrop for your pooch's fun, consider a few ideal landscaping choices for your pet.

Installing a fence is a basic way to allow your pup to exercise, while also adding privacy. If you're looking for an inexpensive option, consider a DIY dog fencing kit which is much more affordable.

Opting for paths taps into your dog's natural desire to patrol your yard and protect your home, but ensure you create them using dog-friendly ground covers such as pebbles or mulch. Equally, ensure you have only dog-friendly plants in your patch. 

11. Covered area

backyard ideas for dogs

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While dogs love basking in the sun’s rays, it isn’t always beneficial to them. Just like us humans, they are at risk of dehydration, sunburn, and heatstroke, and they need to be monitored accordingly.

One way of providing them respite and protecting them from themselves could be to provide a sheltered area that they could use for shade. If you already have trees in your backyard then you’ll have a readymade solution, but if not, there’s always the possibility of getting a whole separate structure. Something like a gazebo could be a good idea, as it’s relatively inexpensive, and does the job.

12. Dining area

backyard ideas for dogs

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The chances are that you’ll have a barbeque every once in a while, and that you’ll want to discourage your dog from eating food from there. Likewise, feeding them from the dinner table is a no-no.

One notable solution to this issue could be to create their own dedicated dining area in which you can either put their food on nice days, or leave them treats. Hopefully they’ll come to associate this area with food, and avoid pestering in other areas.

For your part, have some fun with it. Maybe put something like a miniature dining table there to help the area look presentable.

13. Fence window

backyard ideas for dogs

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This can only be done if you have a fence backing onto some unoccupied land – or have a very understanding neighbour who isn’t too bothered about privacy – but why not make a window in the side of the fence for your dog to look through?

By nature they are very curious animals, and love looking around to see what’s going on. The fence window effectively gives them a viewing platform for events going on outside of their backyard, thus reducing the prospect of boredom, and leaving an open space that they can’t get through.

Ashleigh Gibbs
Ashleigh Gibbs

Ashleigh is Digital Editor on PetsRadar. With over 8 years of experience in print and digital media, she has acted as an editorial lead on a variety of projects, with animal themes a keen interest. As an avid animal lover, you can often find Ashleigh checking out the newest trends in animal care or looking at cute cat videos on TikTok.