What To Put On The Ground In A Dog Run

  • 03/03/2019

Wait, you have never heard of a ‘dog run’? This notion is mostly defined as a dedicated area where your canine companions can exercise and play to their heart’s content. They are typically communal spaces in parks, but you can also create one in your own backyard. Since the very idea and main appeal of a dog run is to have space where your dog moves around unleashed, it should typically be enclosed by a fence. But what about the ground those paws walk on? What is the best dog run ground material and what does that mean?


When it comes to the ground material for your dog run, grass is the first thing that naturally comes to mind. Of course, there are some benefits and, unfortunately, many downsides to using grass for a dog run. The upside is that it is a perfectly natural grounding which can look good, but if you own a dog that runs a lot, it is probably not a good idea. Before you know it, the grass will turn to dirt - and dirt shouldn’t even be considered as an option. It’s a hygienic nightmare. The upside of grass is that this ‘green carpet’ is a perfect napping bed for canines, and in that regard, sand is probably the next best thing.


Sand is the second option you should consider. It is not costly, it is fairly easy to set up and it is a breeze to clean it every now and then. Sand is a good choice because, as far as your dog is concerned, it is like running on clouds. The downside rears its ugly head during the summer months - when it can be like walking on hot coals, and it surely becomes unbearable even for the most insulated of paws. On the flip side, removing droppings and evening out the surface with a rake is a quick and fairly effortless business. Setting it up can be a problem - you need to outline the dog run zone and dig at least two or three inches deep before filling it up with sand.


As it has been mentioned, your canine will damage the grass surfaces, particularly on the most-frequented routes across the dog run. This means that these hotspot areas will turn into heinous puddles of mud with the smallest hints of humidity, let alone a downpour. This is why, from a hygienic standpoint, concrete does the most amazing job as the ground material. It can easily be cleaned with a hose and dogs can hardly do any damage to it. You don’t have to sacrifice aesthetics for functionality, as you can easily order coloured concrete for decorative purposes, according to what best suits your yard appeal. After all, your canine won’t mind as long as it does its job. The downside is that it is not exactly the most ideal surface for your dog’s rest. They cannot exactly lie down and take a nap on concrete for prolonged periods like in the case of grass and sand.


Gravel may appear to be a good middle ground between sand and concrete, but it comes with its own set of idiosyncrasies. In order to have a fairly homogenous surface that is evened out, you will need to choose medium-sized gravel with fairly consistently sized stones. This means that your dog will still be able to dig holes in it, especially if it’s bigger. This is the main reason why gravel can be a good option for smaller dogs, though you should never underestimate their enthusiasm. Nevertheless, just like with sand (and grass, to an extent), your dog’s most frequented paths will turn into mini-trenches, and these are far harder to correct than in the case of sand. This means that gravel will require frequent maintenance (think - once a day) and each maintenance session will take more time and energy out of you.

Bonus options?

There are several ‘out of the box’ options that rarely come to anyone’s mind in an instant, but which should definitely be considered. One of these options is wood chips - which are cheap and easy to put down. Thermally speaking, this is a sound option, but just like in the case of grass and sand, the drawbacks become apparent quickly. Parasites such as ticks and fleas find wood chips to be the perfect breeding ground, plus, the chips are genuine sponges of odours and filth. Creating a large surface made of wooden boards is a better option than this, but they come with similar downsides. Synthetic grass looks good and it is pretty hygienic and a breeze to clean, but it can turn into a smouldering hell in warmer climates.

Finding the exact right ground material for your dog run depends heavily on the species, habits and the size of your canine friend. Your yard size, dog run area and its shape as well as your financial situation and climate conditions all play into your decision making, so make sure that you sit down, put each of these factors on the list and do the math. Should you choose right, your dogs will be ever so grateful for a place where they can feel free.

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