DIY Home Improvement: Build a ‘Dog Proof’ Dog Run in a Weekend

Do you have dogs? Do you wish they had some space of their own in the back yard, so they would quit digging in yours – or quit eating your garden? Maybe your dog is an escape artist or habitual chewer of all things yours and not theirs? This easy DIY (do it yourself) project can help you with all of these issues, and it also provides a safer and more secure area for your pet. If you follow the steps in this article, you will end up with a back yard that both you and your pet can enjoy.


Planning is an important phase in any project, and this one is no different. Consider any special needs that your pet has. If you live in an environment that has extreme temperatures (either hot or cold), you’ll want to plan in some shelter for your pet to enjoy when they are outside. Also consider any yard issues that you need to take into account as you plan for this project. Are there things underground that you want to be sure you don’t hit with a shovel, when digging your post holes? Check with the gas, power, and water companies before digging on your property.

Measuring is another crucial part of the planning process. Choose a location for your pet’s new area, and measure all aspects of it. Consider the height of the enclosure that you will need to safely contain your pet. Ensure that the area you have chosen is large enough for the animal to get some exercise, and attend to their doggy business in, without it becoming a sanitary issue. Your measurements of the area will come in handy when you purchase your materials.


You have many options at hand in regards to materials. If you use the following materials, you can be sure that your project will be fairly inexpensive, as well as secure and tamper-proof for your pet:

– chicken wire
– cheap metal tent stakes, or chain link fence ties
– bricks or large rocks
– wood chips, recycled tire rubber, small gravel, etc for ground cover
– fence materials (mix-it-yourself concrete, posts, fencing etc)

You’ll also need some tools to complete the project:


– rake and shovel (for clearing the area)
– post hole digger (for preparing the foundation of your fence)
– wire cutters (for cutting chain link fence and chicken wire to the appropriate size)
– mallet (for pounding stakes)
– hack saw (for cutting fence posts and poles)
– level (to ensure posts are vertical)
– pliers (for tying the chain link fence ties to the support rails and posts)
– wheel barrow (or large trash can with wheels, for moving your ground cover around)


Follow these steps to complete the project:

1. Measure the area and mark post hole locations. You can use a string as a straight line guide, to ensure that your enclosure looks professional.

2. Clear the area of debris and growth with a rake and a shovel, if needed.

3. Dig your post holes 2 feet deep for a 5′ tall fence, or deeper if your fence is higher. One time-saving technique is to mark the post hole depth on your post hole digger, so that when it is in the hole you can see how much more dirt you need to remove to achieve your desired depth.

4. Set the post holes with concrete. Put the posts into the holes and pour concrete into each hole. You can add gravel to the concrete as a filler. Use a level to ensure that each post is vertical.

5. While the concrete is setting up around your posts, stake down the chicken wire which will keep your dog from digging below the ground cover that you have chosen. Use wire cutters to cut the chicken wire to the desired shape and size of your enclosure. Use cheap tent stakes or some chain link fence ties (these have hooks on one end like a tent stake) to hold the chicken wire down and further deter your pet.

6. Once your posts are solidly in the ground, run the fence line along the posts, tying it to the posts with your fence ties and pliers. Hang the gate, and ensure that it opens freely. If you are concerned about someone trying to steal your dog, you can use a lock on the gate.

7. Lay bricks or large rocks along the inner (and outer, if you choose) boundaries of the dog run before you bring in your ground cover. This will support the base of your fence and help keep your pet securely inside the enclosure. Rocks or bricks hold down the edges of the chicken wire and block your pets from being able to peel it up. They also add a decorative touch to your project.

8. Cover the chicken wire with wood chips or other ground cover material of your choice. Wood chips are suggested here, as you can typically get them for free from a tree removal company, and they are easy on dog’s paws. Recycled rubber is another, eco-friendly option; though you should only consider this option if you know your dog will not eat the rubber pieces. Gravel is considered a last option in this article, as gravel retains heat and can hurt some dog’s feet. Additionally, dogs prefer to lie in wood chips over gravel.

9. The last step is to turn your dog loose inside their new outdoor playground, and watch for several minutes. You want to know right away if they find any flaws in your design plan. These are usually easy fixes, and before you know it, you and your dog will be enjoying your back yard, together.

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