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

All dog owners should consider building a dog run for their dog. A backyard dog run offers your dogs the perfect outlet to release their energies! We have 15 awesome dog run ideas for you today, including some ultra-fun entertainment additions (think doggy pool, doggy playground, and doggy swing!)

Your dogs love running, having fun, exercising, and releasing their anxiety outside.

Dog runs also provide the perfect space for your dog to call their own, where they can play and relax without being interrupted or annoyed by other pets or children.

There are many different dog-style runs that you can build for your dog.

So, what are some excellent dog-run ideas?

These are some of our favorites!

Sound good?

Let’s begin!

15 Dog Run Ideas to Inspire a Backyard Dog Paradise

Let’s launch into our 15 ideas for the perfect 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 you, 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

These days, you can pick up free or cheap secondhand trampolines everywhere! This is a great idea (and how-to) for turning one of those into a dog run.

This is one of the easiest DIY dog runs we found and the video includes details on how to build your own.

2. Build a Run Around an Existing Structure

Using an existing structure, such as a shed, is a great start to a beautiful backyard dog run. This video shows a simple, well-thought-out way of building your own.

This dog run 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

This is probably the easiest, cheapest dog run idea we’ve come across. It may not be your ultimate long-term solution, but it certainly is brilliant as a portable dog run. It’ll come in handy when you’re camping or traveling with your pooch!

4. Dig-Resistant Dog Run

Got diggers? This could well be the perfect dog run for your backyard! Not only is it huge, but it is also dig-resistant. Add a sandpit (or two) to satisfy your diggy-dog’s digging cravings, and this would be a dog’s dream.

5. Turn a Side Yard Into a Dog Run

These guys did an amazing amount of work to turn this side yard into a gorgeous dog run, complete with fake grass! You wouldn’t have to go to the lengths they did to turn your small yard into a dog run, but this video will undoubtedly give you some great ideas!

6. Cheap and Easy Panel Dog Run Plans

cattle panel dog run idea
Image via Instructables

This dog run idea is brilliant. These metal panels make it super easy to build a dog run, and you can make it as small or as big as you like! You can also add additional panels to separate dogs if you need to.

Plant some lovely flowering or flea-repelling plants around the borders and this would make a lovely backyard dog run.

7. Add a Sand Pit for Entertainment

tire sand pit dog run deas
Image via Smiling Mama

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

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.

8. Add a Wading Pool to Keep ‘m Cool

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 the most gorgeous doggy hangout.

9. Build a Dog Run With Chain Link Fencing

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. It includes everything you need to build your own – measurements, materials, and full instructions.

10. Play Spin the Bottle

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

It requires some handy skills but the result is worth it.

11. Install a Freedom Aerial Dog Run

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 you want something super easy and cheap to construct!

This wired dog run 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.

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03/22/2023 08:29 am GMT

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

13. Turn the Whole 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 doggy playground ideas! An old ladder becomes an obstacle course – with a little imagination and this tutorial for guidance, you’ll turn your backyard into dog heaven.

14. Add a Dog Swing

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 pooch!

15. $50 Small Dog Run / Kennel

A beautiful, small dog run / kennel! Made from upcycled materials to save money, this dog run is a super-secure place for your dog to hang out.

Ideas for Different Types of Dog Runs

golden retriever on farm rural fence
Golden Retrievers are some of the most adorable dogs on the planet. 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 tails!

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 – a dog run can be built that suits them. So, I have gathered some ideas for some nice dog runs that could get your creative juices flowing.

Let us have a look at them!

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 very little garden space.

Keeping your dog run on the smaller side allows you to maintain a nice-looking garden.

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

I have found that the best simple dog runs are from 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 circular simple dog run if you need to.

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

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03/22/2023 03:29 pm GMT

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. I’ve seen it all!)

Mentally stimulating dog runs do 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 a grass cover or a 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.

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 a smaller living space, as this does not take up much real estate in your yard.

You can build a small enough dog run on a balcony if you live in an apartment, but it is only suitable for small dogs due to its size. You also need to supervise your dogs at all times!

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 couped up in an apartment.

I’ve seen smaller dog runs with artificial grass and a low picket fence to corner the dog run space.

I have seen some dog owners put some flowerpots on the outside of the picket fence to make the dog run seem more homely. With this dog run, you can make it look nice and spruce it up according to your style.

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 around freely in the open fields – without a leash!

Sensory pleasing dog runs provide your dog with many different sensory stimuli to keep them entertained, as some dogs require smells and things to feel to keep them occupied.

These sensory-pleasing runs also provide an area for your dog to practice impulse control and correct manners. Your dogs – and sensory dog runs do require a good amount of space! There are endless dog toys and materials used in the run.

You can make these runs from the soft grass you surround by cold and smooth concrete.

You can also place some old tires filled with river rocks in different areas on the grass, and you can provide your dog with some plants to see and smell.

Sensory pleasing dog runs help nervous dogs who need a calm area to be themselves.

(I think we can all relate these days!)

If you combine a sensory dog run with appropriate dog training techniques, it 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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03/22/2023 01:08 pm GMT

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.

However, if you make your natural dog run big enough, you can let your dog use it as a place to play and run around, so they have fun and burn energy.

Natural dog runs can be pretty compact. But the size will depend on your dog-run use, your dog’s size, and energy requirements. I have seen natural dog runs that look breathtaking and can help accentuate your garden.

These runs are usually built with a low wooded fence, cornering off a patch of natural green grass, with colorful flowers planted 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 a wooden 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 yellow and black Labradors will thank you for the gesture!

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

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.

Firstly, dog runs offer an enclosed area where your 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 children or guests that come to your house. For example, if you have a small child, your dog may become a bit too energetic for your toddler to handle.

So, you need to put your dog in the dog run to release that energy! Hopefully – before your dog interacts with your toddler again.

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

If you live in a house that has 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. Their active paws can easily damage your grass and garden – creating bare patches if a dog run is unavailable.

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 go 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.

Considerations When Building Your Backyard Dog Run

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

We recommend keeping your property layout in mind when designing your dog run.

Consider the size, shape, and garden area you are willing to give up, as these will all dictate how you will build your dog 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.

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.

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.

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

Read More – Humane Methods to Keep Unruly Dogs and Cats Out of Your Garden!

DIY Dog Run FAQs

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 they also love to run and explore nature all day! They appreciate extra-large dog runs so they can fetch, run, and have fun.

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 100lbs, 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.

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.

And, a dog can use a dog run for many reasons. You can even make a dog run for your dog to rest inside and relax.

They are a big help to owners that have active dogs with excess energy as you can add many different stimuli to the dog run.

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.

We love brainstorming about dogs – and dog runs!

Thanks for reading!

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03/22/2023 10:49 am GMT


  • Skye Moore

    Immensely introverted and more comfortable with animals than people, writing is the perfect job for Skye! She's spent years studying natural treatments and herbal remedies for animals, animal behavioral science, and building a self-sufficient animal-friendly homestead. Her favorite animals are dogs, the bigger the better. Raises dogs, horses, chickens, geese, ducks, a goat, cattle, and a truckload of vegetables. Never says no to an animal in need, grows her own animal feed, and adores being immersed in nature surrounded by anything that doesn't talk.

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