Best DIY Dog Run Ideas – Build Your Furry Friend A Secure Play Pen Easily!

Giving your canine companion a place to run freely whilst you’re not around can be an incredible help, especially if you work all day and can’t be around to let them out for exercise every single day. 

They can explore, sniff and go to the bathroom in an enclosed, safe space where they can’t get at any of your plants or make escape attempts by trying to tunnel away.

Not only that, but your dog will also be much more relaxed and unlikely to get worked up by the sounds of the outside world, seeing as they can sneak a peek in a secure way without you having to worry they’ll make a break for it. 

Provided you have access to a few tools and some relatively inexpensive materials, it’s not going to take too much of an investment to get finished, and is a very worthwhile project to dedicate your time to.

So, let’s check out some of the many different ways you can set this up for your best bud.


Gravel-based Dog Run

Cheap, natural and incredibly easy to set up, gravel can be a fantastic idea for the flooring in your dog run.

Especially for those who live in a hotter climate, this is a perfect surface for your dog’s vulnerable paw pads, allowing them to run around and even roll in the dirt to cool down.

Plus, if they pee, it will simply be absorbed away – no unsightly stains to look at, or chance of damaging your lawn!

Be aware that rocky gravel is unsuitable for this usage and could cause injuries, so don’t just go using dirt from the garden! You need to opt for a rounded, pea gravel for instance, which hasn’t got any sharp edges and can’t cause any damage.

Cobblestone Dog Run

Though somewhat more expensive, an attractive combination for many dog runs is using cobblestones or pavers in addition to grass.

Being not too rough, but not totally smooth, your pup can still run across these stones without the possibility of slipping and sliding everywhere, and there’s no chance of getting their feet bruised up or scratched.

It’s worth noting that pavers and cobblestone get hot very easily in the sun, so try and make sure they’re only placed in shaded areas of your yard, or if that’s not possible, make sure you add some shade elsewhere in the dog run, so that your furry friend has somewhere to go and cool off.

Small Grassy Dog Run

Ideal for pint sized pooches, a narrow, smaller dog run works well in smaller homes, especially if you’ve only got access to a teeny tiny side yard.

Adding grass to the flooring here allows you to potty train your pup, so feel free to use artificial lawn if you don’t want to put up with browning because of their pee!

Natural grass might be cheaper, but it requires far more upkeep and could also lead to weeds and insects; it will also not last as long, and it’s far easier to clean poop from artificial grass. You can even just blast their pee away with a hose!

Concrete Dog Run

Though a lot cheaper than investing in paving stones or cobbles, you’ll require more DIY skills to pour concrete in your yard, and it won’t be as attractive as an intricate stone pattern, but you can paint, stain or dye it to a prettier color if you want to.

Mess is easier to clean, but you might want to offer your dog somewhere cool to lie down, as again, the surface gets pretty hot after a while.

Composite Deck Dog Run

Not only is this a good stylistic choice for any yard anyway, but composite wooden decking is quickly becoming a popular option for creating dog runs and kennels, because of how easy it is to keep clean and well maintained.

If you’re only using it for your dog’s run and you don’t care about its overall finish, there’s no need to stain or color it, which means that it’s going to cost very little to set up – it’s also weather resistant, so it’ll last a lot longer than some of your other options.

Plus, even when it’s unpainted, the wood still looks stylish and attractive, and combined with a low rise fence, will even upgrade the appearance of your yard more generally!

Wood Chip Dog Run

There’s a reason wood chips are regularly used for childrens’ adventure playgrounds!

As soft on paws as they are on little feet, they’re great for running around unsupervised as your pooch is far less likely to sustain any injuries, and they also won’t get quite as hot as stone or concrete on a sunny day.

It’s worth noting that getting rid of urine and faeces can be trickier with wood chips, as the pee tends to absorb quicker than you can wash it away, so it must be hosed down incredibly regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria.

Plus, you’ll probably need to add more wood chips regularly, to replace any that are removed with waste or degraded over time.

Likewise, you should opt for cedar wood chips where possible, because it’s known to repel ticks and fleas, and other wood chips can be poisonous to dogs if ingested. Be sure to do your research!

Chain Link Fence Dog Run

Another super cheap option is chain link, which is incredibly popular amongst owners for setting up temporary dog runs, as well as building something more durable.

As it’s strong and steady but also pretty lightweight, you’ll find it’s very easy to assemble and take back down again.

Plus, as well as providing a secure spot for your dog to get their exercise, it’s also see through, so you can keep an eye on them from across the yard or in the house and make sure they’re not getting into any mischief.

Though some would consider it an ugly eyesore, it’s possible to paint your chainlink dark green to match the natural colors of your yard, or dark brown if you’ve got lots of other wooden structures or a dirt base.

Be sure the paint is non-toxic, though, otherwise it could prove poisonous to inquisitive pooches.

Wood or Metal Fence Dog Run

Though it costs more to set up a full on fence than it would to buy some chain link, this is a much more stylish, aesthetically pleasing method for constructing a suitable dog run for your precious pooch.

If you’ve got the time and money to invest in the project, you’ll certainly be glad you took the extra steps to make your garden even more attractive.

You can also try and source some of the materials for cheap by using treated wood from a lumber yard or asking around to see if friends and neighbors might have anything they could donate to the cause.

Indoor Dog Run for Apartments

If you’ve got a balcony or a tiny yard in your apartment, don’t despair!

With some pint size fencing, artificial grass and a couple of plant boxes, you can set up an adorable little dog run where your pooch can go potty, relax in the sunshine or have a little bit of a sniff and wander around after spending lots of time inside.

However, when you’re working with a balcony, especially the higher up your apartment is, you need to make sure that the run cannot be escaped and has no vulnerable points that may be penetrated after a bit of work.

The safety of your furry friend is, as always, paramount – so if you’re unsure, always ask an expert.

Well Stocked Dog Run With Fountain

Provided you have a water fountain that is self-circulating and filters its contents regularly, adding one to your dog’s run will not only make your garden or yard look more attractive, but it also provides them with a constant source of fresh, running water that’s filtered of nasties.

This means they’ll be able to get a drink whenever they want, even if you’re not there to refill their bowl, and also steer clear of potentially dangerous – or just downright gross – water sources because they’ve got a clean, safe one already.

Large Run For Bigger Yards

Those with more room to play with might want to consider setting up an extra large run for the opportunity to agility train their dogs.

Even when you’re not around, if you’ve established an agility course with all of the obstacles, ramps and other additions, your dog can get some practise in and have a good training session unsupervised.

That being said, you should only leave your dog unsupervised with this equipment if they can be trusted not to use it inappropriately or cause damage, and also make sure the run has space to go to the bathroom and relax as well as exercise.

Some days they just might not feel like it.

Avatar photo
Written by Vanessa

Read more of 's articles.