How To Build A Dog Run On The Side Of The House

Dogs certainly need their own space and by this, we are not exactly referring to dog houses. Dogs need a space where they can really be dogs. 

It’s nice to have your dog stay indoors with you and keep you company. But that comes with some training. You’ve got to train them not to relieve themselves anywhere they feel like. 

You’ve also got to train them not to chew and nibble on furniture. And in some cases, you’ve got to train them to say off your bed and other personal items. 

Then there’s also the restrictions from running around and really having fun. They’ll probably spend most of their time in a dog crate or a dog bed. 

The truth is, certain dogs just aren’t made for that life. This is why having a dog run in your home could be the difference between your dog enjoying their time being your pets or just getting by staying with you. 

What’s A Dog Run?

A dog run affords dogs that free space where they can exercise, run around, be active and pretty much, be dogs. 

The dog run is an enclosed safe space where dogs can be themselves there, and not destroy other areas of the home while they are at it. 

Most dog runs are fenced areas in a part of your compound specifically designed as a sort of ‘playpen’ for your dogs. 

These fences could be as simple as basic chain links. With an enclosed area for a dog run, your gardens, flower beds and all other areas are free from ‘dog activities’. 

It’s a win-win scenario because your dog gets to have outdoor fun while you can rest easy knowing your house garden and other outdoor equipment are safe. 

Dog runs can be purchased online, that is for the more portable ones. They could also be installed by dog run experts. 

Alternatively, you could build your own dog run yourself with just very simple materials. In this article, we’ll show you how. 

But first, let’s find out those things we need to think through before setting out to construct a dog run.

Building a Dog Run

Here are the following steps to take to build a dog run at the side of your home:

Step 1: Location

There are few things to take note of with respect to the location of the dog run. Make sure that there is a source of shade for your dogs to take cover from the heat. 

If there is no shade available, you might need to add shade using a cover or patio umbrella. 

The dog run should also be close to a water source. This makes it easier to clean the run and to provide bowls of water for your dog. 

The run has to be large enough for the dog. As a rule of thumb, it should be at least twice as wide and five times as long as the length of your dog. 

Bear in mind that larger dogs will need bigger runs. If you intend to include a dog house in the run, remember to put that into account when calculating the run dimensions. 

Once the dimensions of the run and a location has been secured, measure and mark out the dimensions in the location. 

You could make use of chalk or stakes and twine to mark out the location. 

Step 2: Area Preparation

The next step is to mark out and set up the location for construction. Use a level headed rake or garden tiller to remove grass and loosen the top soil. 

Dig out dirt up to 3″-4″ deep. Then tamp down the soil with a tamper. This dog out area will be filled with whichever ground cover you have chosen for the dog run. 

The next thing to do is to create holes for your fence. From where you will install the fence gate, using your hole digger, dig 12-24-inch diameter holes for the posts. 

These holes should be twice the width of the fence posts. And about 3 inches from the already marked out ground area of the run, make these holes at equal intervals along the length of each side of the dog out portion. 

These holes will serve the fence support posts. 

If you will be pouring concrete into the floor of the run, you have to build a mold into which the concrete will be poured. 

The mold will ensure that the concrete takes the right shape of the dugout portion. You could use lumber to create the mold. 

Place the lumber along the borders of the dugout area of the run.

Step 3: Laying the Floor

If your chosen ground cover is wood shavings, fill the dugout area with these wood shavings. 

Use a level headed garden take to level the wood shavings. This area should be framed with railroad ties or with large pieces of lumber. 

By doing this, the shavings will be kept within the designated area and not lost to the surroundings. 

On the other hand, if your floor covering is concrete, before pouring in the concrete, soak the dugout area with water. 

This will make sure that the concrete does not set too quickly. If it does the concrete floor may develop cracks. 

Get a wheelbarrow and fill it with concrete mix and water. The ratio of concrete to water should be followed as per manufacturer’s instructions. 

Ensure the concrete-water mixture is evenly mixed. Afterwards, pour the concrete from the wheelbarrow into the dugout area. 

Depending on how large the run space is, you will need to repeat this process several times using the wheelbarrow until the floor area is filled. 

Use the edges of a shovel to make sure that the corners of the dugout floor are filled with concrete. 

The floor should be filled with concrete to just above the sides of the mold. Level the concrete with any flat board available. Allow the concrete to set for the time prescribed by the cement manufacturers. 

Step 4: Fencing

Remember the holes made in step 2 for the fence support posts? Fill the holes with about 2 inches of gravel. 

Make another mixture of dry concrete with water. Place one of the support posts in the holes. 

Make sure that the post is centered within the hole. While the post is being held steady (you might need an extra pair of hands here), pour the already prepared concrete mixture into the hole. 

Use a shovel to level the concrete. The concrete should be allowed to be about four inches above the hole. Repeat this process with each support post. 

Now that the support posts have been installed, the next thing is to set up the chain link fence. Attach the fence to the posts by beginning from one corner of the dog run. 

Attach the fence at the top and bottom of the post using fence ties and pliers. To ensure you do an effective work, follow the instructions provided from the fence hardware. 

Then, unroll the fencing and stretch it to your next post. Fasten this fencing to the support post with pliers and ties. 

Make sure that you stretch the fence as tight as possible as you move along, to ensure you have a taut and sturdy fencing. 

With the fencing done, you can place a dog house within the dog run. However, bear in mind that allowance for the dog house must have been factored into the dimensions of the dog run. 

A dog house could provide the much-needed shade within the dog run. In the absence of a dog house, a patio umbrella could suffice. 

Side yard dog runs are usually linked to the main house so that the dog can easily go into the main house through one of the doors of the house. 

The door of the house leading out to the door house can be modified to have a doggy. This allows the dog to go into the house and back to the dog run with ease. 

This makes it much easier for the dog to find its way around the house. More importantly the dog knows that it is welcome into the home when it is tired from all the play and exercise done in the dog run.

Now, check out this video:

Factors To Consider In Building A Dog House Run

In many single homes, there is usually a space or yard that lies between the fence and a side of the house. This is a prime location to construct a dog run. 

All that will be required are two gates or extra fences to join the compound fence to the wall of the house. A dog run designed like this is called a side yard dog run. 

In designing a side yard dog run, there are certain things that are to be considered. We’ll discuss several of them. 

Dog Size And Breed

There are little pet dogs like the Chihuahua or Poodles. Then there are the Mastiffs, Alsatians and Rottweilers. 

A dog run for the latter group of dogs will surely have to be stronger than that of the former group. The fencing materials must be strong enough to handle the bigger and tougher dogs. 

Dog Behavior

Some dogs are hyperactive, with explorative tendencies, so they hardly like to be kept in a confined place. 

If, for instance, your dog is a climber, this will have an impact on the fencing for your dog run. You’ll need a taller fence. 

If your dog cannot help itself from digging into the ground, you’d need to ensure the fence of the dog run is buried deep enough into the ground. 

This will ensure that your dog does not pull off an escape stunt by digging underneath the dog run fence and totally defeating the purpose of the dog run. 

To further ensure this doesn’t happen, you could construct the fences with some underground chicken wire. 


If your dogs will spend a lot of time in the dog run, it will be advisable to create a source of shade, if there isn’t already any. 

Building a roof over the dog run is a good way to ensure the dogs are protected from the blistering heat during hot seasons. 

If you live in areas where mountain lions and coyotes are rampant, a roof will ensure there is no entry allowance for these wild animals to harm your dogs. 

Building Permit

In some regions, you will require a building permit for the design of your dog run. Before you begin to construct, make sure you enquire from the local authorities if a permit must be obtained. 


We have already talked a bit about fencing with regards to the dog’s behaviour. There are three common types of dog run fences. 

They could be chain link fence, metal or wood fence and plastic coated wire fencing. Each one of these has their pros and cons.

Chain Link Fence

The chain link fence is the most common type of fencing for dog runs. This is due to its affordability, sturdiness and availability. 

One of the more important things about this type of fence is that it allows you to see through the fence into the dog run. It also allows the dog to see through the fence to its surroundings

The chain link fence is not known for its aesthetics. However, it can be painted to make them more appealing to the eye. 

You could paint the fence green to match with the lawn. You could also paint the fence dark brown to match with a wooden fence. 

Whichever color decision you make, you must also make sure that the paint used is non-toxic and will not be harmful to your dog. 

Metal And Wood

This type of fence looks better than the chain link fencing. They also offer solidity and strength to the fence. 

In its design, you must ensure that the space between the metals is wide enough to allow you see through into the cave. The space must also not be too wide that a dog can put its head through. 

For wood fences, consider nursing naturally durable materials like redwood and cedar. These wood types will also add to the high-end look of the dog run. 

Treated lumber could also work as a suitable material and it is also more affordable. 

Plastic Coated Wire Fencing

This is possibly the most attractive option. It balances the beauty of the wood/metal fence with the affordability of the chain link fence. 

If you don’t plan to spend a lot for the dog run, consider getting this type of fence. 

Ground Cover

There are many ground cover options for the dog run. We’d go through a few. 

Natural Grass

Natural glass provides a soft ground cover which is preferred by most dogs. However, it requires more care. 

It must be mowed frequently and there is also the challenge of pests and insects. Pesticides and insecticides used for natural grass must be non-toxic and harmless to the dogs. 

You’ll also have to pay attention to possible bacterial buildup in the soil that could prove injurious to the health of your dog. 

Wood Chips

This is also another popular ground cover option. It is more visually appealing. However it is a breeding ground for bacteria. 

Wood chips will also need to be replaced regularly as some are lost while you pick up solid waste from the dog run. 


Gravel is another popular option. Pea gravel is preferable because it is more rounded and safer for dogs. 

Dogs with sensitive paws will find gravel uncomfortable as ground cover. It’s also not ideal for dogs that like to chew. Chewing on gravel can cause dental damage to the dogs. 


Concrete is easy and inexpensive to pour and set. Concrete floors can easily be rinsed down to remove both liquid and solid waste. 

But just like gravel, dogs with sensitive paws could find concrete quite harsh. Also, concrete could easily get hot in hot weather, hence, the need for proper shade. 

Other ground cover materials include dirt, artificial grass and rubber padding. 

A dog run could be the best thing you could do for your dog. Remember that if you are not the handsy type, there is the option of having the dog run installed for you at the cost of some money, of course. 

With a dog run, you can be sure to have a physically healthy and mentally sound dog with you. 

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