Thursday, 15 January 2015 23:23

A Dog's Life

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A Dog's Life

Intelligent outdoor design sometimes warrants more than just manicured lawns and pretty fixtures. Creating a functional and imaginative outdoor space for your pup may require a little hounding, writes Emily Sparshott.

There’s no arguing that family pets – especially dogs – can bring a multitude of benefits to a household. Apart from being completely adorable, dogs have an amazing capacity to share love and affection through their own unique personalities. Many Australians regard their animal companions as an integral part of everyday life.

Regardless of the block you live on, it’s important to take your pup’s needs into consideration. There are a number of prerequisites to building a home for your family – such as access to clean water and waste facilities – so too should there be for your pet in your backyard.

Whether your furry friend is an enormous Great Dane or a tiny chihuahua, your space needs to be as accommodating to your pet as it is to you. Here, Sydney Pool + Outdoor Design discovers how to transform a regular backyard into a pet’s paradise.


The two most fundamental aspects to living comfortably are having access to drinking water and shelter. While we may sometimes take these necessities for granted, it’s critical to provide the same for our dogs.

A kennel is the traditional way to provide shelter for your dog. Modest designs suit most budgets and certainly, if time and money allows, there are many ways to create an interesting and comfortable kennel. However, if your outdoor space does not allow for a large kennel, you will need to find alternative ways to provide shelter from the intense summer sun or pelting rain.

Overhead awnings or shade cloths placed in a convenient, comfortable spot are a practical alternative to dog kennels. Shades are available in a range of colours and materials, so you can choose according to your home’s exterior aesthetic. Choosing a shade should be easy, but keep in mind the breed of your dog – especially if it has a thick coat – and how much shelter will be required.

Fresh, clean drinking water for your dog is just as important as it is to us. Therefore, an abundant supply is imperative for clever outdoor design. Instead of filling up your dog’s water bowl every day, consider installing a water feature. Water features with a pump and filter, along with regular upkeep, will ensure readily available and safe drinking water for your dog, while doubling as an attractive focal point for your backyard.


Containing your dog in your backyard is sometimes easier said than done. While your fence may be six-foot tall, if it’s without concrete footing, your pup may be tempted to dig its way underneath. In contrast, if you have a large dog and a small fence, the right amount of bait – such as another furry friend – may be enough reason for your pup to escape.

A typical solid wooden fence is a reliable option for your home, but be aware that the bottom of the panels can sometimes become flimsy, allowing your dog to push its way through – or even worse, get itself stuck. Make sure that your wooden fence is double-nailed and secure, with no visible cracks.

Alternatively, a steel Colorbond fence is a safe and sturdy option. Steel fencing is hardier than wood, with it being less likely to rot or diminish over time. For those who love to climb – such as the Catahoula leopard dog – steel is much harder to grip, therefore making a quick dash all the less likely to occur.

To add an extra safeguard, try planting low- maintenance, drought-resistant and dense shrubbery along the perimeters of the fence line. An extra layer of protection will help to avoid outside distractions.

Before incorporating plants in your landscaping however, be mindful of the danger they may impose on your dog. Plants such as brunfelsia, liliums, oleander – even tomato and potato plants – are extremely poisonous to dogs and can prove to be fatal. If your property grows any foliage that you feel may be a danger, it’s best to do away with them completely.


Perhaps one of the most frustrating parts of pet ownership is a dog’s knack for digging. While a newly-landscaped outdoor space may be in your future plans, it’s vital to consider the impact your dog may have on your manicured lawn.

All canines are prone to digging, so it’s best to first discover the reasons behind your own dog’s behaviour. If you are constantly away from home, your dog may be bored and trying to entertain itself, or it could simply be after a piece of buried treasure. If the issue persists however, you might consider dedicating a specific area of your outdoor space for your dog to dig.

Choose a space that accommodates a hole, but won’t run the risk of tripping people up. Once you have decided on a safe spot, create a shallow crater and fill it with sand, loose soil or mulch to aid in a relatively easy dig. To encourage your dog to dig in the dedicated space, bury a favourite toy in the hole and praise your pooch when it discovers its treasure.


Dogs love to explore the outdoors and discover new places just as much as we do, so extra features for entertainment are perfect for keeping the pep in your pup.

Energetic breeds such as Staffordshire bull terriers or schnauzers require lots of attention and opportunities to play. Designated areas that incorporate tunnels, balls, bridges and balance beams will allow for extra stimulation when you are away from home. Dependent on your space and budget, play stations can be as interesting and creative as you wish.

Dogs such as German shepherds and beagles are commonly used for law enforcement, as they have a fantastic sense of smell and love to patrol. If you do not have space for large doggy play areas, you may consider devising a winding path made from soft paving, or a trail lined with foliage. This way, your dog will have a designated area to patrol without ruining your manicured garden in the process.

For many Australians, dog ownership is more than just having a pet to play with. A dog can offer love, companionship and plenty of laughter. Considering this, your outdoor space should be planned with your pooch in mind – after all, this is where it will spend a lot of its time. A cleverly- created plan is imperative to maintaining a beautiful outdoor space, and will give you and your best friend a whole new ‘leash’ on life.

Read 17388 times Last modified on Friday, 16 January 2015 03:52