If you're like most pet owners, your dog probably spends a great deal of time in your backyard. There are a number of things you can do to make your yard a great place for you and your dog to spend time together.
- Fence the yard, and make sure that there are no holes in the fence. Nothing is more fun for your dog than having the freedom to run and play without restraints such as tie-outs or leashes. In order to do this safely, you should put up a fence. Make sure that the fence is tall enough so that your dog can't jump over it, and you may want to consider a stockade fence rather than chain link as many dogs can climb chain link fences. Also remember that dogs can dig under a fence.
Another option that works well for large yards is an invisible fence. These fences are underground, and keep your dog from leaving the yard. Keep in mind, however, that some dogs see things on the other side of these fences that make the small shock they receive worth charging over the fence.
Make sure there is a shady spot for your dog in warm weather. If you and your dog are going to be hanging out in the backyard for more than a few minutes when the weather is warm, make sure there is somewhere your dog can escape from the hot rays of the sun. This can be a spot under a tree or some bushes or under a patio or other structure. Be careful about using dog houses; although they can provide some relief from the sun, they can also get quite hot inside in the summer.
Look for debris, holes, and other items that may provide a danger to your dog. Fill up holes where your dog might trip and injure himself. Make a point of doing a regular patrol of your yard to look for anything that can be chewed and ingested that may be harmful to your pet such as trash, rocks, or anything else your dog might think about eating.
Remove or refrain from planting any plants or trees that could be poisonous to your dog. Check with your veterinarian for a list of hazardous plants. There are many plants that can cause your dog to become ill or even die if ingested. Some of these plants include daffodils, tomato plants, and tulips.
Provide warm, dry shelter in cold or inclement weather. When the weather turns cold or rainy, it's not recommended that you keep your dog out for extended periods of time. For the times when he does need to get out for some exercise in cold or rainy weather, provide a dog house or other shelter, such as a plastic igloo, for him to escape from the elements. This structure should not be placed in an area where water may accumulate. Place some warm, soft bedding inside to provide a comfortable hang out. When temperatures dip well below freezing, your dog shouldn't be going outside for longer than a few minutes or so for a potty break and some quick exercise.
Keep a variety of fun toys in the yard for your dog. Use your dog's own preferences as a guide. For high energy dogs, tennis balls and Frisbees are ideal. If you have the space, you may also want to set up an agility course for your pet. For dogs that just like to lie in the sun, a big bone for chewing may be the way to go. If your dog is a water lover, set up a wading pool and you will be as entertained as he is when he splashes around in it.
Keep a fresh bowl of clean water nearby. Make sure you change the water in your dog's outdoor water bowl each day, and keep it close to your dog while outside.
Enjoy the yard with your dog. As much as your dog may enjoy his toys, he will probably enjoy your company even more. Staying outside with your dog ensures that he will not start engaging in inappropriate behaviors such as digging or barking out of boredom. It will also ensure his safety should a gate accidentally be left open or if he manages to find a hole in the fence.
Whether you spend an hour or half a day in the yard with your dog, there are several things you can do to make it a fun place. The top concern is keeping your dog safe. Once you take care of that, there is no end to the fun things you can do with your dog in your own backyard.