8 Tips for Building the Ultimate Backyard for Your Dog

As you know, Horizon Structures offers a full line of pre-built dog kennels for residential (and commercial) settings. A backyard kennel is a wonderful place for your dog to safely enjoy the fresh air and sunshine of the ‘Great Outdoors’ during those times when you may not be available to supervise him outside.

However, a kennel is only one element of creating the ultimate backyard for your dog. Below are several smart and creative ideas on how to make a dog area in your backyard to keep your pet happy, healthy, and safe at home…

When we move to a new house and bring our dog with us, it is easy to forget that the process can be just as stressful for them as it is for us. If you want to make your dog as happy as possible once you settle in, here are eight tips for building the ultimate backyard for your dog. Even if you’re not moving to a new home, use these ideas to make canine-friendly improvements to your current property …

1. First and Foremost, Make Sure Your Backyard is Secure

Check the condition of your fences and gates. Look for any damage or holes in the fence. Be thorough because, at a glance, everything could look good. However, if you have a wooden fence, there may be holes or rot somewhere at the base. If your dog spends time running free in the yard you can be sure that he will inspect everything and find weak spots. That is why it is critical to check everything and address any issues as soon as possible.

2. Make Sure Your Dog Will Have Shade

Providing an area out of the hot sun means your dog is less likely to want to go back inside to cool off. You won’t have to do much if you buy a house with a tree or two in the backyard. However, since you are unlikely to buy a home solely because it has a tree in its backyard, we are here to suggest a few alternatives. These include:

  1. A doghouse: Doghouses are great because they offer overall protection for the dog. However, you need to get one that has plenty of ventilation to prevent heat build-up.
  2. An elevated dog bed: This type of bed will allow your dog to cool off during hot summer days, and it’s also more comfortable than a regular pillow.
  3. A dog kennel: If you have a dog that will spend most of its time outside, a high-quality dog kennel might be best. It will keep your dog cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Heat and A/C can even be installed!

To train your dog to use that shady spot, lead them on a leash while using a phrase like “Go to your bed,” and reward them with treats to reinforce positive behaviour.

3. Make a Dedicated Place for Them to “Go”

Whether you regularly walk your dog or not, they will poop and pee in your yard. This will especially be the case right after you move in. Moving in will be just as stressful for a dog as it can be for you. So don’t be alarmed if you see them “go” more than usual for the first few weeks. It is just their way of settling in. There is nothing you can do to prevent this. You can, however, help them adapt quickly. You can create a dedicated space for them to go when needed, and it doesn’t have to be a large space. You can then train your dog to go where you want him to go. Walk your dog to the designated place every day for at least three weeks, rewarding them with goodies every time. This way, you will keep the mess to a minimum and keep your dog happy at the same time.

4. Water for Drinking

Another way to create a dog friendly backyard is to keep your dog’s water dish filled with chilled water whenever they go outside. Choose a bowl with a sticky rubber base if you’re placing it on a deck to prevent it sliding around and making it less likely to tip over. Stick to stainless steel because, unlike plastic, it does not easily scratch and does not harbour germs. Like indoor water bowls, disinfect outdoor water bowls regularly with hot, soapy water and keep out of direct sunlight. When it’s hot, it’s critical to look after your dog, especially if you keep them outside.

5. Plant Organic Grass in Your Backyard

Many of the health problems dogs face are caused by contact with chemically treated grass. This is especially the case with older dogs. Many people who enjoy tending to their lawns or backyard crops use pesticides to keep pests and weeds at bay. This, however, can be extremely harmful to your dog. For your backyard, you should use organic fertilizers or compost and chemical-free insect control. If you’re establishing a new lawn for your dog, buy seed for native grass that will grow in your area. This way, you will keep your dog happy and healthy.

6. A Spot for Digging

All dogs enjoy digging. If you enjoy gardening, this can be a significant problem. That is why, if you want to keep your dog from destroying a flower bed or a small crop of vegetables that you have planted, you should make a digging area for them. A small sandpit could do the trick. A designated digging area will also reduce the likelihood that your dog will dig under your fence.

7. Make a Pool for Your Dog

You can never run out of ideas to keep your dog cool during the summer. Installing a pool just for your dog may seem like a significant investment, but it doesn’t have to be. A simple wading pool for kids may be an economical and enjoyable method to provide this luxury for your dog.

8. Make a Dog Run for Your Dog

Lastly, build the ultimate backyard for your dog by considering a simple dog run. If you have adequate room, try creating a dog run that goes the length of your yard. While the run should confining, it does not need to be in the form of a stark and unattractive chain-link fence. Conceal the fence with low evergreen hedges and plants, providing gaps for your dog to see through.

These have been our eight tips for building the ultimate backyard for your dog. If you design your yard with your pet in mind, you will ensure they are happy and entertained and discourage them from naughty behaviours.

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Stewardship And Horse Barn Design

horse barn

When a permanent structure is added to a property its legacy will extend far beyond one lifetime. Well – it will if it is properly built and considers property stewardship! For property owners that seek to develop their parcels of land into equestrian facilities, consideration of the future of the build beyond their ownership is not always high on the priority list.

horse pasture

However big or small the overall size of the equine operation is projected to be or become, land development comes with a set of responsibilities that goes beyond paying taxes and keeping the grass, cover crop or woods maintained.

Ideally, when property owners seek to construct permanent structures, such as houses and barns, responsible stewardship and consideration for all aspects of environmental impact will be addressed.

There are times when you want to build something that stands out, but there is also a moral obligation to consider the short and long-term consequences of building an architecturally startling structure.

You don’t want to be ‘that neighbor’, the one that moves into an area of natural beauty or buys a heritage plot of land and proceeds to develop a home or barn that is a blot on the existing landscape.

Would you have a conscience about blocking a neighbor’s view with a multi-level brightly colored house? Or constructing a horse barn that looked out of place among a scenic valley of Dutch influenced Gambrel roofed farm buildings? Would you think twice about whether your barn design blended into the landscape or stood out announcing your presence in the neighborhood for all to duly note if not perhaps admire?


Taking note that whatever you choose to build will likely be a legacy and survive long after you have either moved away or passed on means planning further ahead. Consideration for not just the quality of the build so that it offers longevity but also the design, style, size and color of the structure and how it integrates into an existing view is not on everyone’s to do list. Even when they acknowledge the permanence of their decision and its environmental impact. Respect for history and sensitivity to a heritage site, realization that stewardship of the land is temporary, that a moral obligation exists to consider the relevance of a roof material or engineering method is often overlooked.

While deed restrictions such as view protections, heights and locations of new builds etc. do exist, there are many cases where no such preservation methods prevail at the time of the land sale.

In most cases no compromise to the efficiency or low maintenance needs of a modern barn design needs to be made if you seek to honor the style of a traditional horse barn.

timber frame barns

Mortise and tenon engineered timber frame barns can mirror the bygone days of historical estate builds when land is inevitably sold off for development around existing mansions or houses. Horizon Structures clients, such as Mark and Lynda Mscisz are examples of folks that took special consideration of the moral responsibility of keeping old world charm alive, when they purchased lands on the William Coolidge Estate in Topsfield, MA, and did just that and are now the proud owners of a Horizon structures timber frame barn that is the envy of friends and equestrian neighbors.

red barn

In farming areas the familiar red oxide paint that spoke to the legacy of farmers’ innovative ideas in the 1700’s, was indeed a brilliant notion. There is no reason why a modern-day barn build can’t also be innovative without compromising the inherent natural beauty of an area or adding a pleasing aesthetic to its surroundings.

Consider siting a Monitor style barn in the sandy scenery of the southwest, that identifies with the cowboy lifestyles and barns built in that era as the homesteaders of New England travelled West. The great ventilation a Monitor style barn offers is the perfect horse housing answer for regions where high temperatures are common.

center aisle barn

Do you live in an area where tobacco farming was common? Why not give a nostalgic nod to the Kentucky tobacco industry and color the siding of your new center aisle barn (replete with an overhang and gable roof) with a black stain?

Low maintenance stains that can offer protection for 15 years are now available and can keep labor and material costs down in future years.

When it comes to barn design and colors, there is much inspiration to be found in history. And when it comes to implementing those designs and updating them to this century, there are a myriad of products that a modular barn building company can offer that honor the past while satisfying contemporary concerns and needs.

There are times when you want to stand out. But there are also times when you want to stand up and preserve the traditional architectural appeal of the area that you have just moved into.

horse barn

After all, you probably moved into the region because that is what you liked about the place in the first place.

Double Down with the Double Wide Horse Barn

double wide barn exterior

The initial expense of a new horse barn will likely stretch any horse owner’s finances. Despite the option that larger construction companies provide with financing availability, not everyone wants to invest in a large horse barn.

Additionally, there may be factors, other than cost, that limit barn choices. For example:  zoning restrictions or landscape/property features. Regardless of circumstances, everyone wants to enjoy the ‘best bang for their buck” when building their barn.

The Double Wide layout barn style offers a creative answer to some challenging barn building questions…

How can you solve the dilemma of building a budget-friendly horse barn that will serve multiple needs without making a major investment?

What’s the best barn/stable layout when space is limited or zoning is restricting height and square footage allowances?

The increasingly popular Double Wide horse barn offers functional solutions.

double wide barn

Modular horse barn companies have long offered shed-row style structures for horse housing that address some of these issues, and this style of building is very popular for many good reasons. But with hot sun and driving rain, the shed-row style cannot offer full protection from inclement weather and provides limited interior storage space for supplies and equipment or a place to groom and tack up a horse.

The Double Wide barn solves the issue by combining a shed row with the affordable enhanced shelter of a side aisle addition. This is achieved by an enclosed overhang construction that follows the long side of the barn on the stall-facing side of the shed-row.

The advantages of this simple modification are tremendous…

  • The enclosed area makes cleaning stalls and other barn chores MUCH easier for you regardless of the weather. Wind, rain, snow, and ice stay OUTSIDE.
  • The aisleway provides a relatively clean environment for your vet or farrier to work on your horse. Contamination from wind-blown sand or dirt and mud are greatly reduced if not eliminated altogether.
  • Electric access can be conveniently on hand with outlets placed between each stall. Lighting can also be added in the aisle making it possible to work in the barn after dark. This is especially important during winter’s shortened daylight hours.

barn electrical access

  • Includes more secure, dry, ground level storage space for hay, feed, tack, and equipment.

The Double Wide layout is truly a blessing and may be the perfect answer to anyone whose property is small and/or restricted by challenging landscape features that need to be worked around.

Other advantages of this barn style are minimal site preparation (principally a level pad with support footers/sonotubes for the overhang pillars), quick set up and an attractive price point. You can easily see why the Double Wide a popular choice.

Thankfully the modular or prefab option is available for Double Wides. And it offers many advantages over an on-site build.

A modular building company will deliver the building in one of two ways depending on the configuration you choose…

  • Two pre-built sections are delivered and joined on site. This alleviates the noise, stress, and time delays of having to wait on a pole or stick built construction project.

pre built barn sections

  • One pre-built shedrow section with the overhang/’aisle’ section erected on-site/after delivery. The side walls beneath the overhang and at the gable ends may be enclosed entirely or partially enclosed creating the protected space for daily chores to be completed by equine caregivers, vets, or farriers to work, and storage needs for hay, tack, and equipment to be secure.

The key factor that makes the Double Wide stable layout so attractive from a financial standpoint is the simplicity of the design. The barn can be entirely functional with an aisleway available without the additional expense of a center-aisle design barn and as explained there are many times when a horse owner will appreciate its availability.

double wide interior

The double-wide design is also evidently an excellent barn choice as it provides the utility of a totally enclosed barn/workspace with a smaller overall ‘footprint’ if available space is limited.

There is the option to add sliding stall doors and grill stall fronts to increase ventilation and give the ‘feel’ of a center aisle barn. Installation of sliding ‘aisle’ doors with windows either on one or both, of the gable ends also gives the feel and utility of a ‘big boy’ center aisle barn in a smaller, sweeter package.

Property owners don’t always have the luxury of large wide expanses of land where a new barn can be situated. The Double Wide barn provides a valuable alternative design, which can be easily placed in a more confined area that may offer plenty of length but not enough width to accommodate stalls on each side of a 12’ aisle.

It is a design well worth considering if you’d rather pay less than a center-aisle barn will likely cost, but don’t want to compromise on enjoying the benefits that an aisleway will provide or if you have limited site options on your property that will dictate your barn choices.

Savings due to reduced site prep costs also apply when a Double Wide design is chosen over the standard center aisle barn. This is because the former requires fewer footers (*sonatubes). Additionally, less cubic feet of crushed stone/stone dust will need to be purchased and installed for a Double Wide site versus a standard Center Aisle barn construction. Eliminating the center aisle section saves money beyond the cost of the structural materials used for the build.

Aside from cost savings and the site match, another advantage of a Double Wide barn design is for breeding facilities, such as stallion barns. The horses are not able to see each other across the aisle, which can equate to a more harmonious environment for stallions, as there is less opportunity for intimidation or angst that can be created when stallions see each other ‘eye to eye.’

If you’ve ever found yourself racing to saddle up your steed in the rain, mucked stalls with Dutch doors being blown out of your hands in gusts of wind and been pelted with hail while figuring out where to put those hay bales, then doubling down on your investment with the Double Wide design might be the answer.

double wide barn exterior

double wide barn

Double Wide barns can also be built with a second floor / loft and lean…

modular barn

double wide barn with 8 foot overhang