Building an Inexpensive Dog Run
Our Temporary Dog Run
We Love Our Pets!
Most of us would do anything for our pets—spoil them, pay attention to them, play with them, make sure they have good food to eat, water to drink, and toys to play with—but when it comes to clean up outside, ewwwww! The task is daunting and never-ending, especially if Fido is allowed to "go" anywhere in the yard.
While assessing the situation with three canine pets and a hard rain, the obvious came to light . . . there needed to be a specific area for them to do their duties that offered easy cleanup and the ability to disinfect. Mold and fungus can grow in areas frequently used by animals and can become dangerous for them to breathe (and contaminate feet and fur). Animals may walk through excrement and urine, track it in the house, kitchen, and maybe even on the bed covers if they are allowed up. Fortunately, spraying with vinegar and water neutralizes odors and disinfects the area. Here again, the process is much easier when there is a designated area to take care of.
One of our little friends came from a rescue shelter that was entirely concrete, so she was used to going to the bathroom anywhere. At home, she would most usually choose the sidewalk or patio, then the others would follow her example. We couldn't get into the backyard gate without scraping into nasty stuff.
Experiencing a limited income for a time, it was necessary to use available items to block off an area as a dog run. About a year ago, we had purchased some inexpensive 16 gauge fencing (rolled, wire); 50 feet for under $30.00. There were also four metal posts, however, there was concern about digging, not knowing where gas or water lines may be underground. There was also a need to make the fencing temporary. We found the YARDGUARD easy to unroll, sturdy for wrapping, and it maintained integrity to keep our pets from breaking through. YARDGUARD
Managing to get the posts a safe four inches into the soft dirt, each was braced with two heavy blocks, then the fencing was stretched and attached with tiny bungee cords. At the far end, the remaining fencing was wrapped around yet another heavy block of concrete to keep the dogs from finding an escape route. It made for a decent looking run without doing anything permanent. The entire process only took about 45 minutes, and the dogs were surprised! Believe me when I say that it cut my cleaning time down by at least an hour each day, and the sidewalk and gate are now accessible.
Pets Are Like Family
Our family consists of my husband, our two Staffordshire Terriers, and another one partially adopted from one of our sons. All of our children are grown, out on their own, but we still have the pooches that became our "kids".
Our backyard is mostly concrete with a pool, so we wanted to keep doggie duties away from that area. Thus, the dog run was put together. It makes clean up easier on a daily basis, and provides a "safe" place for them away from the pool, especially since the smallest of the three canines can't swim. We attempted to teach her, but she just can't keep her heavy head above water for long. Because we love our pets, we are careful to keep their area clean and protect them from hazards. We also make sure they are not subject to bad weather, extreme cold, or heat.
Cleaning the Dog Run
Cleaning a dog run is relatively easy:
- Use gloves to protect hands, especially during construction of the fencing, but also during maintenance.
- It is important to pick up the excrement daily to help keep odors down.
- Purchase a scooper from a local pet store or your prefered place to shop that has a pet center. We purchased our from Amazon. I prefer the clamping model because it can be used with just one hand. Pooper Scooper
- Pulling the lever on the handle opens the scoop; place it down over the duty, and release the lever to close the clamp (or jaws) to enclose the nasties inside.
- Transfer the waste to a bag and disposed of it. We save grocery bags for this process to save more money.
- Place a bag in a bucket with the handles stretched over the sides to help hold it in place while using the chosen tools to transfer the stool to the bag. (This is much easier on the back too!)
- If there is a lot of stool, a broom rake can be used to make one pile that can also be picked up and transferred to the bag.
- We keep one large garbage can lined with a heavy liner to place all the smaller bags into, and take it to the curb once every two weeks. If you wait any longer, the can becomes too heavy. The objective is to keep it as sanitary and movable as possible for yourself and the people who pick up the trash. He or she does not want to smell it nor strain muscles lifting the can to empty it out.
- Spray the inside of the can with insecticide periodically to avoid flies and larva. Take precaution during the summer months when the air is moist because this becomes a combination for infestation very quickly. Yuck!
- Spray the entire area with a mixture of half water and half white vinegar at least once every two weeks. Purchasing a large garden sprayer that can be filled with the mixture makes it easy for application and only takes a few minutes. Vinegar neutralizes odors and disinfects the area.
Keeping the run clean helps the animals stay healthy, and keeps bacteria out of the house. Once a month, it is also a good idea to wash down the area with a hose, allowing the water to soak into the ground. It may take a day or two to dry out, but it helps get the vinegar mixture down into the soil where urine and other body fluids may have soaked into.
The area should be dirt, or coarse sand for easy cleaning as well. If the run is made with concrete flooring, hosing it off several times a month will be necessary along with the vinegar mixture. Animals and humans can develop upper respiratory inflammation or infections from unsanitized areas, so it is essential to keep the run clean.
I want to add here that I have used the Pooper Scooper for over 4 years now. It dried out a little in the summer heat, and the springs broke. I wrote to the company telling them about the issue, and they sent me several replacement springs for FREE! Also, where one of the spring mountings snapped off, I used super glue to put it back in place. I have been using it for the last 3 months without any issues! This item is a must for me!
Other Ideas for Keeping the Potty Area Clean
Keep in mind that all fencing, dirt, even block walls and sidewalks can be sprayed periodically with the vinegar solution to eliminate odors and disinfect the area.
- Plastic Fencing: Other ideas include the use of plastic fencing, which is cheaper, but does hold up to weather and most animals. The only drawback is the fencing is easy for dogs to push his or her way under unless something is used to block the bottom such as bricks, rocks, gravel. As long as the bottom looks like it is attached, most canines will not attempt to push through.
- Bamboo Fencing: Bamboo fencing can also be used if there is a necessity to completely close off the area from sight. Be aware though, bamboo needs more support, especially if the area is prone to wind.
The fencing is entirely up to the individual, and finances available, these ideas are just a starting point for minimal cost. The thought of using cat litter seemed tempting, however, moving forward, every cat in the neighborhood would probably be attracted, and that would end up in disaster. Gravel is also not a good idea as "stuff" tends to stick to the rocks making it difficult to pick up. Sand or dirt is the best bet.
I wanted to add here that I have used the for multiple liquids, and reused it after cleaning for deodorizer, baking soda solution, and weed killer. It is fantastic, inexpensive, and has lasted through heavy use. I love the sprayer on it because it only takes light pressure to keep it spraying, so no hand muscle discomfort! Chapin 20002 Poly Lawn and Garden Sprayer
Baking Soda to Eliminate the Scent of Urine
The vinegar idea worked for a while. Of course, picking up the stool at least once per day helps to keep down odors, but what about urine? One can not pick up urine right after the pooches go, nor can it be taken up later in the day, especially in dirt. Well, I found a solution.
After much research, I discovered that Baking Soda is pet-friendly and actually good for their feet, sanitizes, and eliminates odor. Twice a week, I sprinkle Baking Soda on top of the soil in the dog run and use a rake to mix it in. Amazingly, it does take away about 98% of the urine odor.
Once every two weeks, I water down the dirt to help dilute the urine and to help the Baking Soda mix in. I sprinkle it over the surface and let it dry. If you decide to try something else, research to make sure the solution is pet-friendly. Some chemicals and deodorizers are harmful to pad skin and can irritate their lungs.
Using that are waterproof helps prevent direct contact with contaminated fencing and dirt, and I found that the baking soda tends to dry out the skin on my hands. These gloves may seem a little pricey, but they provide a good, solid grip, and I have used them consistently with no breakdown in quality. It just depends on your own personal preference. Youngstown Gloves
What would you do for your pets?
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"Everyone Should Know"
Summary of Items Needed to Build a Run
Making a dog run is not difficult—it saves time and makes cleanup and disinfecting more efficient. Many styles of fencing are available with variable prices, along with other tools necessary for cleanup and maintenance. Here is a list of items needed to build and maintain a dog run:
- Posts (either metal or wood)
- Ties to adhere fencing to the posts.
- Possibly a gate to close off the run at certain times.
- Post driver (or sledgehammer to pound posts into the ground - hint- call before digging or putting posts in to make sure no gas or water lines are in the area).
- Bricks, or rocks to block the bottom of the fencing if it does not set tight with the ground to keep dogs from pushing through.
- Garden sprayer for vinegar mixture.
- Pooper Scooper
- Bucket and bags (either trash bags, or shopping bags to place picked up items in for disposal).
- Gloves to protect hands while working with fencing, and maintenance to avoid contact with feces, and urine.
Keeping a yard maintained, the dog run clean, and pets and owners healthy is worth it. Cleanup used to be a dread, and now it only takes a few minutes a day and a periodic wash down to keep the yard looking and smelling clean.
Bountiful Films, (2013). Dangers of Poop - Dog Dazed. Retrieved from Youtube February 2015.
Hoover, N., (2013). Why Pick up Dog Poop? The Dangers of Dog Feces. Retrieved from Hubpages at http://hubpages.com/hub/Why-Pick-up-Dog-Poop-The-Dangers-of-Dog-Feces
© 2015 Marilyn