Ground cover in your new dog run is one of the most important investments you can make, and quality covering such as sand, gravel, and artificial turf all offer different advantages and might be your best options. Select ground covering for a dog run carefully: Traditional coverings have some disadvantages.
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For instance, a dirt run quickly turns muddy in the rain, and natural grass fosters populations of parasites. Some dogs eat wood chips, which can harbor dangerous fungus. Even concrete — while easy to hose off— has its downside, turning uncomfortably cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Sand, gravel, or artificial turf might be good alternatives and the best ground cover for dog runs.
Playing in the sand
Sand is easy on a dog's feet and he can dig to his heart's content without doing any real damage. Sand makes an inexpensive base layer for your run and allows for easy removal of feces. Sand holds heat from the sun —making it ideal for cold-weather basking — but it can get hot enough to burn dog's feet when its in direct sunlight during summer months.
Sand also clings to dog's fur and ends up in indoor carpeting. You might need to vacuum frequently to keep sharp edges on sand grains from making your carpet look worn. Sand, although a less expensive dog run ground cover, can pool water in areas of frequent rain.
Best gravel for dog runs
Pea gravel might be the best gravel for dog runs because it won't cling to your dog's fur when he heads inside, but you might find an occasional stone that finds its way between his toes. Gravel is easy to install and is easy to maintain by rinsing and raking. It's also easy to add more when necessary.
However, if you live in a wet climate, gravel will sink into the mud over time, requiring you to add more every year or two. It is easily displaced if your dog is active inside his yard. You may find it scattered outside the fence line. Gravel's light weight and small size is also easy to scoop up along with feces.
Durable and decorative river rocks
Small river rock stays put better than gravel, and many dogs don't spend the effort needed to dig into it. The smooth quarry stones hose off easily and are big enough that they won't get scooped up with fecal matter. It's also very decorative — a consideration if your dog run is in view of the neighbors.
Unlike gravel, dog's won't create a pathway when they trot along river rock. However, the rock isn't comfortable to lie on, so provide your dog with a doghouse or other level platform to relax on. While river rocks won't get so easily sucked up by the mud, they do get hot in the summer sun.
Best ground cover for dog runs
Mats or artificial turf might be the best ground cover for dog runs, but it's also the most expensive. Artificial turf provides a surface that is unfriendly to bugs and parasites and is easily cleaned. Rollout mats can be custom cut to fit your run. You can use adhesive to secure it to a concrete base or roll it out on the ground and secure beneath the fencing so your dog doesn't chew the corners.
Note that textured mat varieties provide extra traction so your dog won't slip or skid even when the mat gets wet. Special dog-friendly artificial turf made from soy lets water flow through without puddling on the surface. The grass contains an antimicrobial agent to discourage bacteria and other pests.