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15 Dog Run Ideas [Free DIY Plans and Tips for a Backyard Your Dog Will Love!]

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Looking for some creative dog run ideas to offer your pup a safe outdoor space to play, relax, and get exercise in your backyard? Whether your canine companion needs a safe, enclosed spot to play during the day, a refuge for hot weather, or a safe space to call their own, a dog run can save the day.

Outdoor dog runs offer a space just for your dog, keeping them safe, comfortable, and stimulated, even when you can’t monitor them. These fenced-in areas generally offer a cozy place to retreat, sun protection, rain protection, access to fresh water, and room for exercise and bathroom breaks.

We have 15 awesome outdoor dog run ideas for you today, plus some ultra-fun entertainment additions such as pools, playgrounds, and swings. There are many different dog runs that you can build for your pup, so let’s get creative and find some inspiration for your doggy paradise!

15 Dog Run Ideas to Inspire a Backyard Dog Paradise

Let’s launch into our 15 ideas for the perfect backyard dog run! Turn a trampoline into a beloved dog hang-out, add a wading pool, an old ladder… maybe you’re a paracord fan? We have the perfect dog run for your outdoor living spaces, too.

Or, maybe you prefer to use pallets and upcycled materials to construct a great dog run for your pooch? Check out the ideas below!

1. From Trampoline to Dog Run

Cheap and Easy Trampoline Dog Kennel

These days, you can pick up free or cheap secondhand trampolines everywhere! And, it turns out, they aren’t just fun places to hop around. They can be a great shade-providing space for your pup.

While this dog run is enclosed, it is pretty easy to leave open, too. For that reason, I think it’s one of the best backyard dog run ideas for people who want to provide their pup with shade during the hot days.

This run also provides a lot of privacy to your pet, so it’s a great option for anxious dogs who might like a safe little nook to hide away.

Additionally, this tutorial is easy to follow and doesn’t require special tools or expertise. Easy and functional? What’s not to love?

2. Build a Run Around an Existing Structure

Building a dog kennel

Using an existing structure, such as a shed, is an excellent start to a beautiful backyard dog run.

In addition, the building can provide the run with shade during the hottest parts of the day if you place the run in the right spot. That makes this idea perfect for pups who need a cool retreat.

While you may need some wood and fence panels for this dog run idea, it’s pretty easy to put together. And it will definitely last longer than a stand-alone hutch.

This dog run tutorial from Pete B. at East Texas Homesteading also includes a raised deck, so your dogs never have the lie in the mud. If your dogs are anything like mine, they’ll love hanging out on the deck!

3. Paracord Dog Run

How to make a paracord dog run - orange

This is one of the easiest, cheapest outdoor dog run ideas we’ve come across. It may not be your ultimate long-term solution, but it is brilliant as a portable dog run. It’ll come in handy when camping or traveling with your pup!

All you need to execute this simple backyard dog run idea is a length of paracord, a couple of things to tie it to, and a carabiner. It doesn’t get cheaper or easier than that!

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04/13/2024 10:02 pm GMT

4. Dig-Resistant Dog Run

How To Build A Dig Resistant Dog Run

Got diggers? This could well be the perfect dog run for your backyard!

Not only is this dog run huge, but it is also dig-resistant. Add a sandpit (or two) to satisfy your diggy-dog’s excavation cravings, and this would be a pup’s dream.

This is one of our favorite outdoor dog run ideas that includes a DIY wooden fence. It requires a bit of landscaping and post-setting, but it’s a permanent, versatile structure that will never become impractical. Plus, since it’s made of 2x4s and horse wire, it consists of inexpensive materials.

Read More – Here’s How to Keep Dogs from Digging Up Your Garden!

5. Turn a Side Yard Into a Dog Run

Dog run installation

These guys did a fantastic amount of work to turn this side yard into a gorgeous dog run, complete with synthetic grass!

The fake grass may not be organic, but it is an excellent addition to a dog run. It’s dig-proof, never gets mucky, and washes clean in the rain. So, this might be inspiring to those of you who have erosion problems or have trouble keeping the grass in your dog’s favorite spots.

You wouldn’t have to go to the lengths they did to turn your small yard into a dog run, but their commitment to landscaping will undoubtedly give you some great ideas!

6. Cheap and Easy Panel Dog Run Plans

cattle panel dog run idea
Image via Instructables

This is one of the most brilliant, simple dog run ideas that includes a fence. The metal panels make the outdoor dog kennel super easy to build, and you can make it as small or as big as you like! You can also add additional wire mesh fencing and a couple more ground stakes to separate dogs if you need to.

Since you won’t need to cut wood or drive too many posts into the ground, this is also one of the cheapest and easiest outdoor dog run ideas on this list.

This plan also lends itself well to landscaping. Plant some lovely flowering or flea-repelling plants around the borders, and this would make a beautiful backyard dog run.

chainlink dog run ideas plans
Image via Family Handyman

This is a detailed, free tutorial for building a super-secure dog run from chain link fencing.

With plenty of room for different types of landscaping, this is one of the most versatile backyard dog run ideas.

The guide includes everything you need to create your own run – measurements, materials, and complete instructions. Plus, it’s very easy to follow and execute.

Still, you’ll need some essential tools and a few days to complete this project, and since it uses higher-end metal fencing, it’s not the cheapest option. It’s a permanent structure, though, so once you’re done, you’ll have a trusty dog run at your disposal.

8. Install a Freedom Aerial Dog Run

Freedom Aerial Dog Run Cable - Review, Setup and Installation

The freedom aerial dog run is the perfect backyard dog run for when you don’t have the skills or time to build a fenced dog run or want something super easy and cheap to construct!

This wired line gives your dog 100ft of roaming space for less than $130. It’s almost unbreakable, and you can take it with you if you need to.

It’s very similar to the paracord idea from above, but this dog run is much more substantial and can stay up regardless of the weather.

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9. Recycled Materials Dog Run (at a Rental Property!)

dog playground in 5 hrs diy how to
Image via Hometalk

This dog run was built in only 5 hours using recycled, free (or cheap) materials! So if you’re looking for backyard dog run ideas that don’t require landscaping, expensive materials, or much of a time investment, this might be the right plan for you!

The builders are currently renting this property, so it’s portable and doesn’t require any heavy structural work.

What I love most about this idea is that it’s so versatile. You can start with the horse wire fencing and add new components, such as pallet-board privacy fences, as you go. That makes it an excellent idea for practicality, but it also leaves room for growth.

10. $50 Small Dog Run / Kennel

How to build a Dog Kennel for Under $50, DIY Dog cage for a big Dog!

This beautiful, small dog run/kennel is one of the best ideas for people without much backyard space. It’s made from upcycled materials to save money, a welcome advantage to this plan.

This dog run is a super-secure place for your dog to hang out, so it’s great for dogs who don’t always get along with others, have anxiety, or need a shady retreat to get away from all the action sometimes.

11. Privacy Fence Backyard Dog Run

dog run fun by domestically dobson
This privacy fence dog run from Domestically Dobson is an excellent use of space!

This is one of the best outdoor dog run ideas if you already have a spot in your backyard with a boundary fence. By connecting the existing privacy fencing to the dog run fencing, Domestically Dobson cut down the necessary materials by 1/2!

I especially like that the run is narrow and always connected to the backyard. So while the run looks bare and muddy now, grass from the yard will continually grow into the space, no matter how much it gets trampled.

Therefore, this is one of the best outdoor dog run ideas for people who have trouble growing ground-covering plants where their dogs like to hang out.

12. PVC Lattice Fence

How to make a PVC dog run
This PVC backyard dog run is a great option for people who don’t want to build a permanent structure.

Looking for ideas for temporary backyard dog runs? This PVC and plastic lattice run makes excellent use of cheap materials that are easy to cut and work with. All you need are PVC pipes, some plastic garden lattices, and some zip ties. How creative!

One of the best features of this DIY dog run by Furrari Aussies is that it’s easy to put up and take down. You can move the fence with ease as you want, and it’s rental-property-friendly.

Still, if you want to make it sturdier, you can bury some longer PVC pipes to function as fence posts, then use a metal bracket to screw it to a wall, fence post, or tree.

13. DIY Doggy Litter Box

Litter Box For Dogs-Outdoors

While this is not a dog run per se, it does solve some of the biggest problems that cause people to make a dog run in the first place: messes.

Laying down landscaping fabric and a bed of smooth river stones as a litter box can keep dogs from tracking in mud and give your pups an established potty area. That way, you can be sure you don’t end up with messes where you don’t want them.

This cheap, effective, and practical solution could save you from having to put up a fence in your yard. Still, even if you want a proper dog run, adding a patch of gravel like this one can do a lot to eliminate the mess.

Additionally, a “litter box” can make potty training easier for dogs, as it gives them a very stable, reliable place to do their business on a daily basis.

14. Pre-Made Outdoor Dog Run Ideas

If you’re looking for outdoor dog run ideas with fences that don’t require hardly any work to put together, you may want to consider getting a pre-made one. Dog runs like this Pinnon Hatch Farms one can be just as cheap as the raw materials it takes to make a run, but you won’t have to do half as much work.

I like this one for its open design and enclosed, shady space at the back. It’s got plenty of cover for hot sunny days and rain. Plus, the alcove at the back looks so cozy! It’s perfect for dogs who like to have a secluded retreat.

Also, pro tip: chicken coops and shelters can make great dog runs and houses if they’re large enough. So, don’t eliminate chicken coops from the running.

15. Cheap Pallet Fence Dog Run Ideas

While this dog run idea doesn’t come with a tutorial, it’s very inspiring, in my opinion. Pallet boards make a great, free wood fencing material, especially if you paint them with latex or other weatherproof paint.

There are tons of ways to make wooden fencing from pallets, too. For example, you can drive posts into the ground and simply slide the pallet over the bars, deconstruct the pallets to make a flat privacy fence, and so much more. You can even “sharpen” the boards to make a white picket fence if that’s your style.

Plus, if you notice, the adorable dog houses in the middle of the run are made from pallets, too! There’s no end to the different outdoor dog run ideas and fence ideas you can get from pallet boards.

Toys, Games, and Fun Ideas To Add to Your DIY Dog Run

Have all these backyard dog run ideas inspired you to make a puppy paradise in your outdoor spaces? Well, don’t forget that there are many things you can add to your dog run to turn it into a safe yet exciting space for your canine companion.

Whether you want to tailor the dog run to hot pups who need a space to cool off, dogs who can’t seem to stop digging, or energetic and active pets who relish play, there are several dog run improvement ideas here for you!

1. Add a Sand Pit for Entertainment

tire sand pit dog run deas
Image via Smiling Mama

Dogs love sand! If you’ve ever taken your dog to the beach, I know you’ll agree.

This ultra-cheap doggy entertaining idea uses an old tractor tire. The original idea was meant as a kids’ sandpit, but there’s no reason your fur babies won’t love it, too! The bigger the tire, the better – especially if you have a large breed.

We have several other ideas for ways to use tires in your outdoor dog run, too. For example, you can stack them to make jumping platforms, leave them laying around as gigantic chew toys, or half-bury them to make bouncy jumping pads for your pups.

2. Add a Wading Pool to Keep E’m Cool

Build a Dog Wading Pool | DIY Project

If your dog loves to cool down in summer, this is the perfect backyard dog run addition. Using a simple toddler wading pool, this video shows you how to turn it into a gorgeous doggy hangout.

Even if you don’t care to put the work in to make this beautiful pool frame, your pups will surely love a free-standing pool of any type.

Just be sure not to get an inflatable pool. Those things are not built for claws!

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04/15/2024 05:55 am GMT

3. Play Spin the Bottle

Dogs can get bored in a run, especially if they’re in there for hours daily. This nifty gadget keeps your pups entertained for hours playing spin the bottle!

It requires some basic handy skills, but the result is worth it!

Check out the tutorial on how to build it at Kelley’s Dog Blog.

4. Add a Dog Swing

dog playground

Watch how these two dogs entertain each other with a simple kids’ saucer swing!

These swings, like the 750lb heavy-duty Trekassy swing, are easy to install and very durable – perfect for your pup! Plus, they’re pretty fun for humans, too.

5. Turn the Entire Backyard Into a Dog’s Playground

diy dog park backyard run ladder
Image via Bring Fido

Your dog won’t want to leave your backyard with these entertaining outdoor dog run ideas! An old ladder becomes an obstacle course. With a bit of imagination and this tutorial for guidance, you’ll turn your backyard into dog heaven.

The guide includes tips for making a dog tent, hurdles from PVC pipes, a plywood see-saw, and a bamboo stake slalom course. In addition, it’s full of great weather-proof ideas that’ll keep your pups (and possibly even you) entertained all day.

Why You Should Build a Dog Run for Your Dog

Even lighter pug and bulldog mixes love to get plenty of activity time and exercise. Your dog run gives your furry friends room and time to play even when they don’t get to visit their favorite hiking trails or beaches.

Even though a dog run can carry quite a costly initial investment and a good chunk of time to get up and running, there are multiple benefits to building a dog run.

There are even some things that benefit you, too! Not just your dog.

Dog Runs Make Daily Exercise Possible

All dogs need regular exercise, no matter how big or small, and no matter their energy level. However, if you’re limited on space or have to go to work during the day, it can be hard to find a safe outdoor space for your pup to fulfill their exercise requirements. Especially if you don’t have a fenced backyard.

That’s where outdoor dog runs come in. A dog run is a safe place with rain protection and sun protection where your dog can hang out outdoors and get adequate exercise.

Additionally, a dog run is a popular option for dogs who have lots of energy. Runs give them a safe space to wear themselves out without getting into trouble, and they can hang out there unwatched.

Dog Runs Keep Everyone Safe

Firstly, dog runs offer an enclosed area where dogs can safely play. Adding an enclosure allows your dog the freedom to play without worrying about children or neighboring dogs.

Dog runs also keep your pets out of the street!

You can relax and carry on with your day knowing your dog is away from dangers like moving cars.

Dog runs also separate your dogs from both human guests and canine guests. For example, if you have a small child, your dog may become too energetic for your toddler to handle. Or, if you need to dog-sit, and your dog doesn’t always play nicely with strangers, having an easy way to separate pups outdoors can keep everyone happy and safe.

Otherwise, if you are having a fancy dinner party, you do not want your dog jumping up on your dinner guests. (Not all of our friends are as dog-friendly as others.)

A Dog Run Can Protect Your Lawn and Garden

If you live in a house with a large garden, then building a dog run for your dog is an excellent way to prevent your dog from ruining your lawn.

Dogs love to dig and run around. Unfortunately, their active paws can easily damage your grass and garden – creating bare patches if a dog run is unavailable.

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04/14/2024 12:37 pm GMT

Dog Runs Provide a Potty Zone

Dog runs also provide your dog with a designated potty area, meaning you only have one lawn area to clean up instead of needing to scout around your entire garden to clean everything.

Managing dog droppings in this way can save you time, so you do not need to give up your Sunday afternoon to clean up poop.

Dog Runs Can Keep Your Dogs From Bothering Other Animals

Farm dogs don’t always do as they’re supposed to. For example, when I first got chickens, I believed that my dogs would be fine with them. You know, I had a vision of my dogs gently nuzzling up to my hens. That was a pipedream.

My dogs constantly bother the hens, which is why I needed a dog run.

So, whether you want to protect your dogs from your herd animals or protect your birds and sheep from being herded by your dogs, a run is a great option. That way, all your animals will be safe and stress-free.

Considerations When Building Your Backyard Dog Run

pack of dogs running freely in field yellow labrador golden retriever
Labradors and Retrievers are some of our favorite homestead dogs. They’re adorable, loyal, friendly, and love to run and explore nature all day! They appreciate extra-large dog runs so they can fetch, run, and have fun.

Before building your dog run, you also need to consider a few things.


When coming up with ideas for a new dog run, you’ll need to figure out if you’ll need to do any new landscaping or add a fence. Consider the size, shape, and garden area you are willing to give up, as these will dictate how you will build your dog’s run.


You should also review the materials you will use to build the dog run. A few materials do have some downsides to them. For example, if you plan a natural dog run with natural grass for the cover, you need to protect your dogs from ticks that live and travel on the grass.

Or, if you use gravel cover, then this may get too hot on your dog’s feet in the summer, so you will need to provide a space where they can get away from the hot gravel.

Adding Plants and Trees

If you want to plant flowers in or around your dog run, you need to use flowers and plants native to your area to handle the seasonal changes. They need to be safe for dogs, too, so be sure to cross-reference your native plants with the ASPCA toxic plants list before you put them in the soil. You should also use natural fertilizers and pesticides for these plants as your dog will most likely dig around them, smelling and sometimes even chewing the plants.

Add a Water Source

Remember to add a space in the dog run where your affable hounds can access clean drinking water that will not spill easily. You may need to custom-make a little water bowl table.

Offer Shade Structures and Rain Protection

All dog runs should have some sort of top covering to protect your pup from rain and direct sunlight. No one wants to be stuck somewhere when it’s damp and cold or boiling hot! Adding a dog house, tarp cover, or wooden roof to the dog run are all great ideas that offer plenty of shade and rain protection. Tress can also offer natural shade.

Ideas for Different Types of Outdoor Dog Runs

golden retriever on farm rural fence
Golden Retrievers are some of the most adorable dogs on the planet. But once you get to know one – you’ll see that they’re also hilarious jesters! They usually weigh around 60 – 80 pounds. They also have loads of playful energy and need a big dog run!

Dog runs are a great way to get your dog moving, playing, and chasing its tail!

Every dog needs a spot that they know is for them and their needs. Some dogs need a space to relax and calm their anxiety, while others require an area where they can go wild and get rid of excess energy.

No matter how active your dog is or what they appreciate most in life, a dog run can be built that suits them. However, you can’t put a round peg in a square hole, and you shouldn’t put a dog in a run that makes them uncomfortable.

So, as pet owners, it might help to consider a pup’s personality type before settling on any of these backyard dog run ideas. Some of the different types of dog runs you might want to choose depending on your dog include:

The Practical and Simple Dog Run

The simple dog runs work the best.

Building a practical and straightforward dog run for your dog is necessary when you live in a big city or a house with limited space. Additionally, keeping your dog run on the smaller side allows you to maintain a nice-looking garden without any additional landscaping.

A run can give your dog an area to relieve themselves that’s not your carpet. And with a run, you can also utilize the little space you have to give your dog real estate to run and play.

I have found that the best simple dog runs have a few border stones and a nice patch of luscious green grass.

Simple dog runs can be any shape to match the environment of your garden and maximize your space. You can even create a simple circular dog run if you need to.

These simple dog runs are best for smaller dogs, though, as they can be pretty limiting.

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The Mentally Stimulating Dog Run

Mentally stimulating dog runs are essential if you own an active or sporting dog like a Labrador or a German Shepherd. These dogs are tremendously cunning!

They can turn to mischievous and destructive behavior when bored, like chewing your new slippers, if they are not mentally stimulated. Or chewing your stairs, your floorboards, curtains, video game remotes, bags of sugar, and more.

So, if your dog seems bored and unhappy, it’s time to come up with some creative backyard dog run ideas!

Mentally stimulating dog runs need a good amount of space if you want to help your active dog burn off some energy and challenge them mentally.

Some good, mentally stimulating dog runs I have seen were made from border stones with either grass or sand cover. They also had some obstacles scattered around the run. The dog obstacles can be a lovely DIY project for you at home as they are simple and easy to make.

Some dog obstacles you can include are tunnels, A-frames, tire jumps, and seesaws. Of course, a handful of fun squeaky toys, dog bones, and bouncy balls go a long way, too!

The Small But Full Dog Run

This dog-run variant is perfect if you have minimal space, as it does not take up much real estate in your yard. You can build runs like these on balconies, patios, and porches, and they’re perfect for smaller pups.

The “full” part of this dog run is the toys you put in it. You need to provide enough toys to get your dog moving while in the dog run, especially if they are cooped up in an apartment.

Dog runs like these work well with a corner of synthetic turf, some carefully selected potted plants, and a small shelter in the corner.

Read More – Is Mulch Bad for Your Dog? The Answer Might Surprise You!

The Sensory Pleasing Dog Run

red border collie with horse on farm happy
Red Border Collies are also some of the hardest-working dogs on your homestead – or any farm! That’s why they love and deserve large dog runs. They also adore running freely in the open fields without a leash!

Sensory-pleasing dog runs help nervous dogs who need a calm area and some mental stimulation to be themselves. These canine sanctuaries provide your dog with many different sensory stimuli to keep them entertained, as some dogs require smells and unique textures to keep them occupied.

It’s a good idea to cover stimulating dog runs with grass and some different patches with river stones, pea gravel, pavers, tile, blocks, and plenty of other toys and obstacles.

Combining a sensory dog run with appropriate dog training techniques can do you and your dog a lot of good! Even if you don’t have much spread in your backyard!

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The Natural Dog Run

A natural dog run is made from earthy materials and used as a space for your dog to rest after a busy day.

Nevertheless, if you make your natural dog run big enough, you can let your high energy dog use it as a place to play and run around.

Natural dog runs can be pretty compact, but the size will depend on your dog-run use, your dog’s size, and their energy requirements.

Natural dog runs usually feature a low wooded fence cornering off a patch of natural green grass with colorful flowers around the edges. Go for non-toxic flower and plant varieties for your dog run! Here’s a thorough listing of toxic and non-toxic plants for dogs from the ASPCA.

If you do not have a natural grass patch, you can lay some sod down to create a lovely lawned area in your all-natural dog run.

If you use this run as a space for your dog to rest, make sure you offer some shade in the run. That way, your dogs have a chance to escape the pounding heat. You can introduce shade by placing an outdoor dog kennel in the run area.

If you live with a water-loving dog, adding a swimming pond or small pool is an easy upgrade.

Your Labradors and Retrievers will thank you for the gesture!

DIY Dog Run FAQs

Here are some more questions that I found people ask about dog runs!

These are all excellent questions for dog owners – especially if you want to build a dog run from scratch.

We hope this helps!

Which Is the Best Ground Cover for a Dog Run?

The best cover to have in your dog run is natural grass, as this is a material that your dog is comfortable with and should be used to using. If you cannot put down natural grass, the best alternative would be to use wood chips or artificial grass.

Try to stay away from the gravel cover as this could get hot in the summer and burn your dog’s feet, and there may be sharp stones that could cut your dog.

How Can You Make a Simple Dog Run?

To create a simple dog run, you can use some border stones to create a boundary between the dog run and the rest of your garden. Then, you can place a ground cover within this border. To give the dog run a bit more of a defined outline, you could plant a few flowers or place some flower pots along the dog run’s border.

Another simple dog run idea is to use cattle panels. These panels are tough and easy to connect, enabling you to easily build a dog run of any size!

Are Dog Runs Good for Dogs?

Yes! Absolutely! Dog runs are excellent for dogs as they provide a safe space for your dog to stretch their muscles and get rid of extra energy. They can also help if your dog has anxiety and is always nervous, as they can be a safe and calm area that your dog knows is theirs.

How Big Should a Dog Run Be?

The bigger, the better! Dogs burn a lot more energy than you think. At a minimum, your dog’s run needs to be five feet by ten feet, with a height of six feet. These are the minimum requirements.

But – if you have the space to make your dog run bigger, then you should! Larger dog runs give your dog some extra space to play, and if your dog weighs more than 100 lbs, you should increase this minimum measurement by 1 foot in every direction.

Is Gravel Good for a Dog Run?

Gravel is not the best option for your dog’s run as it can be harsh on your dog’s feet. The gravel can heat up in summer and burn your dog’s paws, and there can be sharp stones that can cut their feet too. If your dogs like to chew on rocks, then using gravel for your dog run could lead to dental damage, which could cost a lot to fix.

If you want to use stone in your dog’s run, choose a light-colored river stone. These rocks are soft and don’t absorb heat too quickly.

How Long Can a Dog Run Be?

We recommend a minimum length for a dog run of about six feet. If your dog weighs 100 lbs or more, you need to add at least one more foot. If you have the space, then, of course, the longer it is, the better.


Having a dog run for your dog provides an ideal place for your furry friends to run around and play safely!

There are different materials you can use to build a dog run, from chicken wire to wood to PVC pipes – the possibilities are endless!

A dog can use a dog run for many reasons. Dog runs can provide shade when it’s hot, give your pup a safe space to relax, or offer them a stimulating “playroom” to curb boredom. Additionally, runs can help you separate dogs who don’t always get along and keep your pets from making messes or raising issues in the rest of your garden space.

Have fun building a dog run that suits you and your furry friend!

Also – if you have questions about building a dog run for your homestead – feel free to ask. Any excuse to talk about dogs is more than welcome over here!

Thanks for reading!

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