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All About Artificial Turf Dog Runs

Building a dog run and pairing it with pet-friendly fake grass can create the perfect space to offer your pup some fresh air and exercise without the need for constant supervision. Learn more about the benefits and maintenance needs of artificial turf dog runs below! 

Artificial Grass Recycling Petition

What is a Dog Run?

A dog run is either a private or public fenced-off area in which a dog can be kept confined and get exercise. A private dog run keeps them safe from potential hazards such as poisonous plants, chemicals, or traffic. They're also great because they contain your dog without the hassle of having to always be on the lookout for other people. A public dog run, on the other hand, is a social place for dogs usually located within city parks. These are especially ideal in California, where the typical dog owner doesn't have a large yard where their pup can get exercise.

A private dog run is generally located at the back of a person's property, though it can be on one side too. In private settings, dog runs can be accompanied by a doghouse and sleeping quarters for your pet if it's near a water source to provide ample water for your pooch. Some pet owners will even build small dog agility courts within their backyard dog run. While dog runs are typically enclosed by chain-link fencing, wood fencing can be used as well if your dog won't tear at it. 

dog enclosure for backyard dog run

Best Turf Materials For a Dog Run

There are a few things you'll want to keep in mind when shopping for artificial grass for your pets. The best artificial grass materials for dog runs are typically shorter, less dense, with durable blades. Grasses with short blades make cleaning the surface much easier, while lower density allows for quicker drainage when flushing the surface with water. Durability is very important in pet turf, so opting for synthetic grass that has structured blades is ideal. While these materials may cost more, this will help reduce wear and tear over time as your pets use this space to play and exercise. 

Pet Turf System For Dog Runs

Manufacturers recommend installing a drainage layer beneath the artificial grass in pet turf dog runs to assist with air ventilation and water flow. This drainage layer in conjunction with consistent sanitizing is will prevent odors and bacteria growth from occurring. Keep reading to learn more about the components of a pet turf system for dog runs: 

  • Pet-Friendly Artificial Grass: Short, Durable, Low Density 
  • Air Drain: 1 in. Drainage Grid, Elevates Surface and Creates Air Void for Circulation 
  • Turf Deodorizer: Natural Odor Eater, Captures Ammonia and Its Odors
  • Antibacterial Sand Infill: Coated Infill to Prevent Bacteria, Mold, and Mildew Growth
  • Nail-Free Installation: Manufacturers recommend installing a frame around the perimeter of the dog run and attaching pet-friendly turf to the frame with heavy-duty staples. This will ensure that even the most active diggers can't remove any nails. Most homeowners opt-out of this, however, this is highly recommended in public or commercial artificial dog runs. 

artificial turf attached to a frame for nail-free turf installation

Pet Relief Area in Dog Runs

To keep your dog run with fake grass long-lasting and odor-free, we'd recommend creating a "relief area" to confine the area in which pets actually use the bathroom into a smaller space. This will help with cleaning and sanitizing, water conservation, and keeping the majority of your artificial dog run clean at all times. 

This area is designed to be used for pet relief only, is usually up to 50 feet in size, and is completely washable. Cleaning a relief area can be fully automatic with a chlorine-enabled wash system, or rely on manual flushing and sanitizing. Relief objects, such as a fake fire hydrant or mailbox, will help lure your pup to this space to pee. This system is currently the most hygienic way to keep your artificial dog run clean, however, it requires some training to get your dog used to the relief area.

Dog Run vs Porch Potty

A Porch Potty is a small box typically set on a porch, patio, or balcony that is topped with artificial grass and acts as a litter box for dogs. This is typically used for smaller dogs and is purchased as a restroom alternative when a pet owner either doesn't have lawn space, or their lawn is not fit for pet use. 

Benefits of Artificial Dog Runs: The nice thing about building an at-home dog run is that you can lay artificial pet turf on concrete and other hard surfaces. This allows you to create a green space for your pet to use the restroom even if you don't have a traditional lawn area. While the porch potty is a great temporary alternative to a natural lawn, this won't provide your dog with any play or exercise opportunities. Another obvious benefit to dog runs is the ability to allow your dog to run, play, and use the bathroom without being supervised because the area will be enclosed. 

Shading For an Artificial Dog Run

When designing and building a dog run, it's important to plan ahead. Although it may not be hot and sunny during the install, summer months bring high temps and this space can become uncomfortable for your pup if not properly shaded. Dogs are unable to express their discomforts, so it's important to build them a space that will keep them safe during play! Shading the artificial dog run will help keep the surface of your turf cool as well. There are multiple shading options for dog runs to reduce sun exposure: 

  • Shade Sails 
  • Solar Shade Clothes
  • Kennel Cover
  • Landscape Fabric 
  • Cotton Awning
  • Pallet Pergola 
  • Canopy 
  • Lattice Wall

Backyard DIY Dog Run

If you're designing a dog run and building it yourself, let us support you! Reference this quick walkthrough to see what installing an artificial dog run entails, and check out our DIY pet-friendly turf installation article for more detailed step-by-step instructions.

  1. Map out and measure your space. Build any fencing prior to laying the pet turf to ensure there is no damage to the turf during other installs. Check out backyard dog run ideas online to understand exactly what you're looking to accomplish. Shop our Online Turf Store to find the best and coolest pet-friendly turf materials and have them shipped directly to you! 
  2. Remove any natural grass from the area, along with approximately 2 in. of soil using a sod-cutting knife. Lay weed killer.
  3. Lay 1 in. of decomposed granite along the surface using a push brush to even it out before using a heavy-duty roller to compact and smooth the surface. While manufacturers recommend the use of a class II road base, DG will produce the best results without the need for professional tools. Repeat this step 2-3 times. 
  4. Lay turf deodorizer. This will trap and remove the smell of ammonia. 
  5. Build a frame around the perimeter (optional). This is manufacturer recommended in pet turf installations. While most homeowners skip this step, if you're building a commercial or public artificial dog run, you'll need to build a frame rather than use nails to secure. 
  6. Lay drainage layer. Fix this to the surface with non-galvanized nails to keep it secure beneath the pet turf.
  7. Cut & seam pet turf. If you're working with multiple pieces of pet-friendly fake grass for a dog run, you'll need to cut the grass to size and seam your pieces together before you can begin securing the installation. We'd recommend seaming with the "zipper effect" to reduce visibility.
  8. Stretch and nail down the turf along the perimeter. Stretching the turf is very important to prevent wrinkles and buckling as temperatures fluctuate. If using nails, make sure they're hammered as deep into the surface as possible. For the best results, nail every 2 ft. throughout as well. 
  9. Apply antibacterial sand infill. This will keep the surface of your backyard dog run cooler and bacteria-free for your pets. Use a push brush to distribute approximately 1 lb. per sq. ft. 

To learn how to build an artificial dog run on concrete, check out our article on how to DIY turf installation on hard surfaces

Artificial Dog Run Maintenance

It's very important to flush out artificial pet turf in dog runs with water and a sanitizing agent to prevent odor build-up. While the added drainage layer accelerates drainage and offers more ventilation, the longevity of your artificial dog run really depends on how you keep it clean. For this reason, a pet relief area will substantially reduce water use because you won't need to flush out the entire area as often as you'll need to clean the relief area.

We'd also recommend brushing through the turf with a stiff-bristled broom occasionally to break up the sand infill and redistribute it across the surface evenly, this will help keep drainage accelerated. 

We're here to support you with your artificial dog run project. At InstallArtificial, we sell high-quality turf materials for DIY turf installation AND we install turf ourselves. Whether you're looking online for dog run ideas to install it yourself, or you want us to handle the entire process, contact us today by requesting an estimate below to get started! 

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