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  • Writer's pictureHannah Skidmore, MBA

How to Design Outdoor Dog Areas for your Boarding and Daycare Facilities

Outdoor Play Areas are Invaluable

Outdoor play areas are an invaluable amenity for boarding kennels and daycare. Pet parents want to leave their pets at facilities with unique features, as being in a kennel all day is not ideal. We have seen a rise in the popularity and demand for outdoor dog spaces, which can come in many forms.

  • Large open play space

  • Water features

  • Individual dog yards

  • Enrichment areas

  • Walking trails

These features can be very helpful in gaining business and creating happy pets, but they must be designed and engineered correctly by animal care building experts.

What to Consider In Outdoor Space for Your Facility

Here are six questions to consider when deciding what outdoor space is best for your facility.

Zoning & Permitting Restrictions

Are there any zoning or permitting restrictions on outdoor kennels or play spaces?

Often, we find that different areas have different zoning restrictions regarding the use of outdoor space. If there are any restrictions, you must determine the mode to appeal a restriction or how to apply for a zoning variance for outdoor animal space. Design Learned's team of building experts can certainly assist you during the Zoning & Permitting process.

Type of Outdoor Space

What type of outdoor space would you like to create?

There are many options for outdoor space. Do you want to create a splash pad or pool? Do you want multiple dog play yards or individual enrichment yards? These decisions will affect the project cost, site water requirements, and site plan. We encourage you to work with our animal care consultations as you navigate these decisions.

Layout of the Outdoor Area

Is the outdoor area laid out properly?

You must consider the layout of the outdoor space as carefully as the indoor space. Staff and animals should not walk through one animal area to get to another. For instance, the layout should be a corridor system that allows staff to walk freely between spaces without causing disruption. Safe walkways are both an efficiency and safety concern. The location of the outdoor areas related to utilities for the site is also important and can impact the design.

Natural Grass or Artificial Turf

Do you want to use natural grass or artificial turf for play yards?

Please keep in mind that while turf costs more than natural grass, it is a superior product as dogs can wear down natural grass very quickly. Natural gas is often prone to puddling and getting very muddy. To use natural grass, we recommend a play yard rotational system in which you can leave multiple yards empty variously and switch which ones are used for dogs. Natural grass comes with a substantially increased outdoor space requirement, which some properties do not have.

Turf is another excellent option for outdoor play yards. There are many types of turf, but any chosen must be pet-friendly. The turf must be able to be cleaned with a quaternary disinfectant and have proper drainage. Our design experts also recommend a gravel substrate with a drainage system underneath in locations with poor soils. In hotter climates, shade and rinsing systems may also need to be considered for the hot surfaces.

Security of the Space

Is your outdoor animal space secure?

Any outdoor space you create must be secure. We recommend double fencing any outdoor areas along with eight-foot fencing. Check out our blog on facility security here for more information.


Do you have enough shade?

The sun can be brutal in the summer, especially in the south. It is crucial to consider shade naturally with trees or artificially with sunshades. The dogs must be able to escape the heat.

Ready for an outdoor space to transform your boarding and daycare facility?

These are just some of the considerations you should consider when planning outdoor space for your dog daycare and boarding facility. The Design Learned team has years of experience planning and designing outdoor animal spaces. Call us at 860-889-7078 or schedule a consultation online to discuss your outdoor area further.

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