Backyards are the personal playgrounds of dogs everywhere. They can frolick, play, and relax without the worries of outside harm. But creating a space that is safe and healthy for your pet while also being a place humans can enjoy is sometimes difficult. Here are 7 fabulous backyard design ideas that will satisfy humans and dogs alike.
1. Dog Path
Whether or not you have a fence your dog will likely destroy the perimeter of your yard. Dogs are territorial and love to run along fence lines and property edges surveying the terrain and just getting in some exercise. Planning to keep grass alive along their favorite run paths is a futile goal.
Rather than deal with the look of dead grass and to help eliminate the issue of muddy paws consider putting in a dog path. This is just a stone or gravel path along the edges of your property, fence or wherever your k-9 insists on wearing down the grass. It will look nice and solve a few problems at the same time.
2. Grass Alternatives
While we’re on the subject of grass it’s a good time to discuss the dead spots your lawn is likely experiencing. Dog urine will kill most lawn grasses. Unless you’re following your dog outside and spraying where they relieve themselves there isn’t much you can do to stop it. If you would like to prevent the look of dead spots in your grass consider changing your grass.
There are several hardier varieties of grass that can be planted in your backyard. Or you can ditch the grass all together and go for a turf, gravel or mulch. Your choices are only limited by your backyard layout and your imagination.
A sandbox is a great addition to any dog-friendly yard. You can purchase a full sandbox or build a frame and drive stakes into the ground to hold it in place. Dogs love digging in the sand, burying their toys and even laying in the sand on a warm day. As sand is typically cooler than the surrounding dirt.
The first thing that comes to the mind of dog owners with a yard is whether or not it’s fenced. And with good reason. Yard fencing not only protects your dogs from getting out but also protects other animals from getting in. Fences can have many other benefits to homeowners as well such as; noise reduction, privacy and aesthetics.
5. Shaded Area
Dogs may want to spend a lot of their time outdoors in the warmer months. Shaded areas are often up to 10 degrees cooler than their non-shaded counterparts. Having a shaded place for dogs or humans to retreat from the heat is a great addition to any backyard. Trees are a great source of shade but often require lots of upkeep.
6. Water Features
As with added shade water features can help keep dogs safe and comfortable on hotter days. Installing a large in ground water fountain or small pond is an aesthetically pleasing option but can sometimes be cost prohibitive.
Other options include; putting in a sprinkler for your pups or installing a dog water fountain that attaches to your garden hose and allows them to step on a pedal to get a drink when they feel it necessary.
7. Dog Safe Plants
A wonderfully landscaped backyard typically induces images of fabulous plant life. Plants are an amazing way to add color and style to any yard. If you are sharing the space with a dog however; it is important to consider whether or not the plants are safe for your four-legged best friend.
There are several varieties of plants that can make your dogs very ill if ingested. Some stunning dog safe plants that can be added to your backyard oasis include: snapdragons, sunflowers and marigolds. Complete lists of safe and unsafe plants can be found online and most reputable landscaping companies have a working list of plants that are pet-safe and geographic ideal for you to choose from.
When designing a fabulous backyard hideaway there is no reason why dogs and humans alike can’t get everything they want. All it takes is a little forethought, some careful planning and an adventurous spirit. Let your imagination run wild and soon enough you will be sitting in your backyard dream come true, experiencing your own sense of satisfaction while witnessing the glee of your pup.
Abi Pennavaria is a dog mom and co-author of the the Saved By The Bark. She spends her free time as a volunteer veterinarian, and enjoys sharing tips and tricks for dog owners of all breeds.
The thought of pets who are neglected, hungry, and frightened in a cage is a huge emotional driver for people to adopt; however, many animals surrendered to shelters or found on the street can be older, less desirable, or in need of ongoing medical care. These pets tend to be overlooked, even by the majority of pet-loving humans looking to adopt a forever friend.
Because of this, we like to highlight harder-to-place animals to help them find their perfect home. Our Why Not Me? (#WhynotMEpets) program is dedicated to give homeless cats and dogs who need more care and attention a chance to find a home as quickly as possible. These are the ones left asking “Why Not Me?” – vulnerable pets who are harder to home such as those who have been homeless for an extended time, senior pets, those with medical needs and/or behavioral issues, pets who aren’t thriving in the shelter environment, and those that make up a large percentage of the shelter population, such as bully mixes. Additionally, cats and dogs can suffer from a “black pet” stigma, shy animals, and those who must be the only pet in a home aren’t easy to find forever homes for either.
“We try tremendously hard to get hard-to-place pets a second look by adopters,” says Amy Ferguson, Executive Director of Pawsitive Alliance. “It’s challenging when those pets get left behind – sometimes for years. Exposure on social media and TV helps a great deal, but pet parents still don’t necessarily go to a shelter thinking they’re going to adopt a senior cat or a Pitbull mix. We have a lot of stereotypes to overcome.”
According to Mercola, senior shelter pets across the U.S. are the least likely to be adopted, perhaps due to a variety of reasons, however the reality is that they’re the best pets to adopt! Older pets are less destructive, more relaxed, and can still learn new tricks. It’s much easier for potential adopters to get a sense of their new pet when they’re mature – you know how big they will get and their personalities are already developed. Also, many senior-savers report that older pets are full of gratitude upon adoption. “They truly seem to understand what you have done for them,” continues Amy. “These frosted faces are so full of love and loyalty; most all pets are upon adoption, but we see it so strongly in older dogs and cats.”
For pets who need ongoing medical care, adopters should realize that managing health conditions comes with pet parenthood, no matter if you’ve adopted a puppy, kitten, differently-abled or senior pet. Unfortunately, millions of animals are put down in shelters every year simply because they have special needs and as such, are deemed “unadoptable.” Many of these “less adoptable” pets spend up to two years waiting for a forever home, more than four times the average wait. Granted, pets with special needs will need an extra special parent who will have the resources and patience to take care of a terrific tripod (a pup with three legs) or a diabetic cat who needs daily insulin. However, it’s important to remember that those with unique circumstances make fantastic companions, regardless!
Of course, most all dog lovers and pet parents know of bully breed issues at shelters, or even larger dogs perceived to be aggressive (“guard dogs” that look like Rottweilers, Dobermans, or German Shepherds). There are considerable barriers to overcome when adopting these pups: the person adopting them will need to have room and energy for exercise and will need to understand the social hurdles that come with adopting a dog that people might be scared of. And of course, not all these pups need to be hiking buddies or agility athletes; each dog is an individual. The most important part of the puzzle is the pet parent, who will not just be rescuing the dog but will also serve as advocate for the breed.
Other hard-to-home dogs and cats are those who are shy or fearful – shelters can be a very hard environment for some animals, and rightfully so – or even the “wrong color.” Many people perceive black cats to be bad luck, and black dogs to be evil. “Remember – it’s what’s on the inside that counts,” says Ms. Ferguson. “You just need your personalities to click. And then by giving an animal a chance, you’ll get to see them bloom.”
If you’re still not sold on helping out a furry face who’s seen their fair share of obstacles, maybe you could do it for you. Imagine how good you’ll feel giving an older dog, a bull breed, or a pet with special needs a chance. Plus, it’s been scientifically proven that a pet’s unconditional love affects us in wonderful ways by lessening our feelings of loneliness and getting us outside for a walk.
After adopting your new buddy, you’ll want to buy toys, bedding, leashes, food — and you’ll need to pet-proof your home and ready the family for your new member. But have you considered pet insurance as well? By enrolling as soon as you can, older dogs and cats can be covered through many of life’s (mis)adventures. You can start protecting your pet today by getting a free quote through Healthy Paws Pet Insurance.
Content provided by Healthy Paws Pet Insurance. Policies are underwritten and issued by ACE American Insurance Company, Indemnity Insurance Company of North America, ACE Property & Casualty Insurance Company, Atlantic Employers Insurance Company, Westchester Fire Insurance Company, and members of the Chubb Group.