Pet Playground: 12 Easy Ways to Make Your Patio Pet Friendly

Making your patio or deck into a comfortable space for your pet can transform it into an excellent place for your furry friend—no yard required!
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According to experts, having a dog or cat can be great for one’s physical and mental health. Everywhere across America, pet lovers find ways to turn their patios into a space their animals will love. Pets often want to follow their owners everywhere—including outside. Condo dwellers and yardless homeowners can still create a space suited to your pet’s needs. Both dogs and cats require a shaded area where they can kick back, relax, relieve themselves if necessary, and drink lots of water to stay hydrated and comfortable. Read through this list and find ways to “deck out” your patio space for your pets.

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1. Fake grass

Patio with fake grass on the ground
Photo: Amazon.com

Giving your pet a comfy place to use the bathroom is a must. Depending on how your pets use it, fake grass can provide a nice place to lie down or a dedicated location to relieve themselves. It’s gentle on paws too!

When choosing a piece of artificial turf for your patio, there are plenty of options size-wise. No matter which option you choose, having some fake grass in place can green up your space while improving comfort for your pet. Speaking of greenery, avoid adding toxic plants to your patio that may be dangerous to your four-legged companion.

RELATED: The 25 Most Dangerous Plants for Your Pet

2. Sun protection

Shade Fabric Sun Shade Cloth Privacy Screen with Grommets for Patio Garden
Photo: Amazon.com

Protecting your pet from the scorching hot summer sun requires preparation. One solution is to create shade using a variety of screens. The best patio shade screens will easily connect to your patio railings, making installation a breeze.

A bonus of putting up a sun shade for your pet is that it also provides privacy. So, by creating a cooler place for your pet, you also make your patio a better space for you. Want some inspiration for decorating your patio with sunshades? Here are some patio shade ideas to use on your deck or patio.

3. Compact dog pool

Miniature goldendoodle enjoying a small splash pool on a hot summer day.
Photo: istockphoto.com

One of the best ways to cool your pet off in the summer heat is to get a dog pool. They come in a variety of sizes, so you’re sure to find one that fits the dimensions of your patio.

Dogs are naturally drawn to water, whether it’s rivers, creeks, lakes, or the ocean. Giving them the ability to dunk themselves in water at home is convenient as it removes the need to drive a long way to a river, creek, lake, or ocean. Just scout out a location that won’t soak neighbors beside or below you because dogs can be enthusiastic in the water.

4. Patio pet bed

Grey French Bulldog on elevated pet bed outdoors
Photo: Amazon.com

Both dogs and cats love a nice comfortable place to lie down outside. However, one flaw with conventional fluffy pet beds is that they cannot dissipate heat. That’s where the idea of cool beds comes into play.

We profile the Coolaroo Elevated Dog Bed in the Bob Vila guide for products every dog owner needs. The concept is similar to a cot but for dogs or cats. These elevated beds feature mesh bedding that can easily breathe to eliminate excess heat. And best of all, the Coolaroo pet beds are raised off the ground, increasing their ability to remain cool to the touch.

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5. Sandbox

German shepherd (1 year) lying in the sandbox
Photo: istockphoto.com

Dogs love digging. It’s an activity that can engage them mentally, especially on those hot summer days. If your dog loves to dig, why not make them a sandbox to play in? A sandbox can make an excellent addition to a patio play space for your pets.

Making a sandbox is relatively straightforward, or you can purchase a new or used one if DIY projects are not your thing. One note of warning: your pet may also use the sandbox to relieve themselves, so keep your expectations for a sandbox in check.

6. Dog agility setup

Photo: istockphoto.com

Ambitious dog owners may want more than just a relaxation space for their pets on the patio or deck. Some may want to conduct agility training. If this is you, check out this dog agility training starter kit at Amazon.

The set contains fun obstacles, including weave poles, adjustable hurdles, a jumping ring, and a sitting box for training obedience. Once they’ve learned some commands, you can sip a cold drink or work in the shade while allowing your pet to play.

7. Sensory stimulation

Golden Retriever using TOMAHAUK Snuffle Mat for Dogs
Photo: Amazon.com

Pets want things to see, watch, and do, and patios are no exception. Once you have figured out your shade setup, think about ways to engage your pets on the patio. Some pets will be happy enough watching the people and other animals they can see from the deck. Other pets may need a bit more stimulation.

An easy way to think about it is to consider play spaces for children. They are bright, colorful, and full of fun things for entertainment. Play areas usually contain textures, toys, puzzles, and more. Give your pets the same treatment in the patio area. Use the internet to discover DIY toys and puzzles, or treat them to store-bought snuffle mat.

RELATED: These 11 Tips and Treats Will Keep Your Pets Happy While They’re On Their Own

8. Jingle jangle play structure

Large Dog Chew Toys, Tough Dog Toys for Aggressive Chewers Large Breed,Heavy Duty Dental Dog Rope Toys Ki
Photo: Amazon.com

A jingle jangle is a rectangular play station made using PVC pipe and elbows. Using plastic rings and chains, you hang various dog toys and stuffed animals from the PVC, allowing your pet to bite, tug, swat, and interact with the toys. This can be an excellent tool for keeping your pets engaged in the shade in the summer.

You could also use a chew toy set on your play station. This is ideal for larger breeds or those who like to gnaw away on something for relaxation.

9. Interactive food puzzles

Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Dog Brick Interactive Treat Puzzle Dog Toy
Photo: Amazon.com

Food puzzles can be a wonderful way for busy dog owners to get a break while giving their pet something to do. For those seeking a beginner-level food puzzle, Outward Hound’s puzzle at Amazon is an excellent option.

Dogs have a lot of fun discovering all the hidden treats; it will keep them engaged and mentally stimulated until they locate all their snacks. If your dog is too quick, add a small smear of peanut butter in each compartment to slow them down as they lick it off.

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10. Lick Mat

LUKITO Licking Mat for Dogs & Cats
Photo: Amazon.com

If you didn’t know already, some dogs are heavily motivated by food. By putting yogurt, peanut butter, or other foods on a lick mat you give your dog a nice treat and some engagement, freeing you up to do other things. Lick mats work very well as a play toy and distraction tactic.

11. Suspend toys

Black and white pit bull playing with Suspension Toy on tree
Photo: Amazon.com

Consider getting a suspended dog toy if you have a branch or other structure to hang toys from. They use a bungee cord or spring to provide tension and pull-back, increasing engagement, making the toy move around, and encouraging your dog to continue playing. Your dog can grab the toy, bite it, and even hang down without any problems. This activity appeals to cats, too, as they’re no strangers to batting around bits of string and feathers.

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12. Space of their own

Woman playing with dog with covered dog pen in the background
Photo: Amazon.com

Is your pet a stage-five clinger who doesn’t know how to give you space? Enjoying your patio with your pet can be difficult if they’re constantly trying to find their way onto your lap or knocking over the drink on your patio table.

Set up a playpen that gives you both some space and some can protect smaller pets from being picked up by predators. Choosing the right one for a patio depends on your available area and your shade setup. We like this playpen from Peekaboo, as you can set it up to fit the dimensions of your patio, and it comes with a waterproof cover that casts some shade.