Many families like to create an area in their backyard that can specifically be used for pottying their dogs. The advantages to creating this type of outdoor space are hard to deny. Cleaning up dog poop from rock or gravel surfaces is a breeze and providing dogs with access to a space that is designated for their bathroom use is a great way to keep grass from stains and damage that frequently occur from feces and urine. If you’re thinking of adding an outdoor dog run or potty area to your backyard, you’ll need to figure out which type of rock is the most practical both economically and environmentally. Another important consideration is the effects the selected rock will have on the dog’s sensitive paw pads. With all of these things in mind, what is the best kind of rock for an outdoor dog run?
Dogs and Rocks—Things to Keep in Mind
One of the main concerns when determining what type of rock to use for an outdoor dog run is the sharpness of the material selected. Some types of flooring, whether gravel, stone, concrete, or wood, can cause harm to the tender paw pads of your dog’s feet, leading to lacerations or the sloughing off of delicate layers of skin.
Since some dogs also like to chew and swallow stones, it is a good idea to select a type of rock that is too large to be swallowed, thus reducing its appeal.
The Best Rocks for Outdoor Runs
There are many different materials you can choose from to line your outdoor run. Typically, rocks are the most popular as they are easy to keep clean and are unlikely to retain odors. They do not degrade like wood or grass does over time. Best of all, using a form of rock to line an outdoor dog run is a much more cost- effective solution than the other flooring alternatives.
There are several types of rocks you can choose from for the flooring for your outdoor dog run. Here are some of the most popular choices:
Pea gravel earns top marks amongst many dog owners as the best material for lining outdoor dog runs. Pea gravel contains no rough edges, making it unlikely to cause tears in your dog’s sensitive paw pads. Because the pieces are tiny, they do not hurt your pooch’s feet as he walks on the surface, meaning he is much more likely to make use of his outdoor space and the chance of injury is greatly minimized.
Pea gravel is also one of the least expensive options for flooring for an outdoor dog run at only $3 per bag, an amount which will cover approximately five cubic feet.
Pea gravel can be hosed down with a power washer or garden hose to help remove odors and is an easy surface from which owners can pick up any solid dog waste for easy disposal. This type of rock stands up very well to even the worst weather conditions and can be raked back into place after a hardy winter.
A material that retains little heat, pea gravel is a relatively comfortable surface for dogs to walk on. For those dogs that have a penchant for eating rocks, pea gravel is an excellent choice to thwart this behavior as its size makes it unsuited to swallowing.
As an added advantage, pea gravel is unlikely to stick to your dog’s coat. However, on occasion, a tiny piece may embed itself between your best canine pal’s toes, meaning if you notice Fido walking a little funny, you’ll need to examine his foot to see if there are any gravel pieces hiding between paw pads.
Pea gravel is easily distributed, so there is some maintenance to keeping it in its place. However, installing a border around this area can help maintain a tidy appearance.
Another excellent flooring option for outdoor dog runs is crushed limestone. Crushed limestone can be layered to create a surface that is even and smooth, making it easy on your dog’s tender feet and unlikely to cause injuries.
Limestone naturally repels odors, acting as an excellent deodorizer to keep your yard smelling fresh and clean. As with pea gravel, limestone is easy to keep hygienic. A simple washing with a power washer will help remove any accumulated smell or residue. As an added bonus, limestone is a material that drains exceptionally well, making it unlikely to harbor water that could contain bacteria.
Limestone remains cool even during the summer months. It is also quite cost effective at only $1.25 to $1.80 per square foot of yard space.
River rock provides you with an entirely different look for your outdoor dog run. Not only is this material smooth, it also lays quite flat to the ground, making it an excellent surface for your dog to walk on.
One of river rock’s primary purposes is to enhance the beauty of a space. Though attractiveness is not the main reason for adding an outdoor dog run to your yard, why not make the space as visually appealing as it can be?
River rock is bigger in size than pea gravel or crushed limestone. This gives it an advantage in that in retains its location and will not sink within the earth, requiring a new layer to be added on top of it with each season. It drains exceptionally well, making it an excellent surface to clean.
However, there are definitely disadvantages to selecting river rock as the flooring for your outdoor run. Unfortunately, this type of material readily absorbs heat, making its surface very hot to the touch. This can lead to burns on your dog’s feet during the hot weather months of the year.
Though river rock is quite smooth, it cannot be laid as evenly as pea gravel or crushed limestone, meaning the surface is less comfortable for dogs that use the space not just as a potty area but also as a spot for doing some relaxing or playing outdoors.
River rocks cost approximately $0.75 to $4 per cubic foot, making them potentially one of the most expensive flooring options for an outdoor dog run.
River rock tends to stay put, meaning less time is required to keep the outdoor dog run looking neat and tidy. Dogs typically are not drawn to digging in this material, ensuring the surface remains attractive.
Other non-rock materials
There are several other options you can consider as flooring for your outdoor dog run. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Many owners opt to install concrete flooring. Concrete is quite easy to keep clean and will not absorb odors, making it very practical. Its durable surface makes it amenable to regular disinfecting, and drainage is not necessary to maintain its surface.
However, concrete gets very hot in the summer months and cold during the winter, making it uncomfortable for your dog to walk or lay on. Installing a concrete pad in your outdoor dog run will cost a considerable amount of cash up front; however, it will also last for many years and requires no maintenance, making it an excellent value for your dog run dollar.
Though not as often seen in outdoor runs, rubber mats can also make an excellent flooring solution. These mats are left unanchored for easy removal for cleaning and disinfecting. They can be laid on top of any surface but are best used as a covering for concrete or mud.
Ready to get started on building your outdoor dog run? Consider one of our recommended rocks for the flooring. Fido’s feet will thank you for it!