How to Design a Backyard Playground for Dogs

By Angela Tague

Dogs need regular exercise. Designing a backyard playground for the family dog keeps the pet, and their human counterparts, active. With a few simple items around the house or garage, you can easily transform a back yard into a dog playground for the afternoon. Consider inviting the neighborhood canines for a puppy playground party.

Secure the back yard. Build or repair a fence for the back yard. Consider installing an underground fence system. Even the best-trained dogs can be spooked by a loud car or a clap of thunder, or enticed by a passing squirrel. The playground should be a safe, secure environment where the dog can run free and play.

Include a water station for the dog. Fresh, clean water should be available at all times. Place a large sturdy bowl near a garden hose, so the bowl can be rinsed and refreshed as needed. Create shade in this area if possible. Set up a portable canopy, or use an existing back porch, awning or overhang from the home.

Consider the dog's abilities before setting up the playground. If the dog is older or has joint problems, don't choose as many climbing and jumping activities. If the dog is a puppy, with no restrictions, give him variety of climbing and jumping activities.

Watch a dog agility trial on television or investigate them in your town. Mimic those activities. If your dog loves to crawl, consider large tubes to crawl through. If the dog is small, purchase fabric cat tunnels from your local pet store. Home improvement stores that offer industrial-grade plumbing supplies offer PVC tubing in larger sizes that work well for bigger dogs.

Create a jumping station by erecting a limbo game. Raise the bar as needed to encourage the dog to jump higher. Purchase a limbo kit in a children's toy store, or make one from two cinder blocks set upright, with a broom handle stretched between them.

Fill a round, plastic baby pool with water to encourage water activity. Small dogs can swim across, while large dogs will enjoy splashing to stay cool during their workout. Throw floating balls or rings into the water to encourage play at that playground station.

Assemble a variety of balls for the dogs to play with. Gather old basketballs, soccer balls, tennis balls and softballs into a large laundry basket. Release all the balls at once, and watch the dog run and chase them as they bounce. Interact with the dog by throwing smaller balls, kicking larger balls and playing fetch.