How to Create a Pet Friendly Yard

iStock_000023479503_SmallAs the weather keeps getting warmer, you and your pet will likely be spending more time outdoors in the months to come. So why not create a yard that you both will want to spend time in? Creating a pet friendly yard doesn’t have to be hard. Nor do you need a large yard in order to create an oasis for your pet. With a little common sense, a dash of ingenuity, and a flash of creative inspiration, you’ll have your pet playing in the sunshine in no time.

To help you get started, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite ideas, from simple basics to backyard-pet-dreams-gone-wild. We hope our ideas will inspire yours. So start thinking like your pet, and let’s get started!


The first step in creating a pet friendly yard is making sure that it is a safe place for your pet to play. For many pet owners, this means means putting up a fence that will not only keep your pets in, but other pets (and wildlife) out. If you already have a fence, make sure that all the boards or fencing materials are securely in place, all nails are securely nailed or bent in, and that there are no secret escape routes.

Depending on your pet, and his or her temperament, you may also want to add a few “windows” to your fencing so that your pet can see what’s happening on the other side. Cutting a head-sized hole in the fencing, and then reinforcing the surrounding boards for safety, can give your pet a window to the world, and may reduce the amount of senseless barking at whatever is happening on the other side of the fence. You can buy and install a fence port hole, DIY or get fancy with special fencing.

Pet Gardens

Make your backyard more like a jungle with a large garden full of pet-friendly plants that your pet can explore, hide in, and relax under. These oasis’ are great for pets on hot days, especially if you keep a bowl of fresh water tucked away for your thirsty pet to lap up as needed.

While most plants are fine for pets, there are a some that should be avoided at all costs. Chief among those is the Sago palm, a low-lying bush that is fatally toxic to pets in its entirety. Likewise, common flowers such as lilies, geraniums, azaleas, foxglove and lupine are toxic to pets, so make sure to eliminate these from your garden, or plant them in an area that your pets are not likely to go.

A Shady Spot

Whether as part of the garden or as a separate oasis within the yard, adding a nice, cool, shady spot where your pet can rest is a great idea. This can be done by planting a large shade tree at a favorite spot in the yard or by building an awning made of cloth, wood, or tarp. Your pet is just as susceptible to sunburn, dehydration, and heatstroke as you are, so including a shady spot in the yard will guarantee your pet an escape from the sun and heat.


Whether they’re patrolling the perimeter of your property, or simply getting from here to there, most pets love to follow paths. It’s likely that your pets may have already created a few of their own paths already, so why not improve on your pet’s groundwork by laying down large flagstones or decking to make the pathways both pet-friendly and a little easier on your eyes. Keep in mind, however, that landscaping gravel and smaller rocks may hurt your pet’s paws, and should be avoided.

A Marking Post or Go Spot

You know your dog likes to mark his or her territory, so include a marking post or “Go” spot in your yard where he or she can go the bathroom without having his or her business scattered throughout the yard.

Your cat is more prone to use the same bathroom spot over and over when he or she is outside, but your dog will need some additional training in order to learn where you want him to go.

Flowing Water

Whether it’s to stay hydrated while playing in the yard, or to keep cool during the hot summer days, having an endless supply of flowing water is ideal for your pet’s dream yard. Even cats enjoy playing with water (especially if fish are involved) and dogs will love having a small pool or pond to jump into in order to cool off.

Tunnels and Platforms

Lookout platforms and secret tunnels are also ideal for the pet-friendly backyard. These can include platforms and large rocks for gaining a birds-eye view of your yard, or secret tunnels and hiding spots for laying in wait and stalking prey (even if it’s only imaginary).

You may even want to comb your local yard sales, thrift shops, and garden centers for supplies to make a small-scale dog agility course in your backyard – talk about fun!

It’s only natural that your pet wants to spend his or her time in the great outdoors. After all, the sights, sounds, and smells of nature are endlessly fascinating to our once-wild four-legged friends. With a little effort, you too can give your pet the yard of his or her dreams.

If you have any questions about your pet’s environment, including questions on pet-friendly plants, agility training clubs in our area, or the parasite preventatives and vaccinations your pet needs to stay healthy, please give us a call.