Just like with humans, sedentary behavior is not healthy for dogs. While you can design and build a dog run in an infinite variety of sizes and configurations, your options for base materials are relatively limited.
Concrete: The Commercial Choice
Concrete is the base material of choice for many professional dog breeders and trainers. No other material is as easy to clean as concrete is -- if built at a very slight angle, and equipped with a gutter-style drain, you can simply hose it out. Give your dog somewhere soft to lay down if you use concrete for his run.
Digging Decomposed Granite
Decomposed granite is a dirt-like material frequently used in the construction industry. Many dog owners like to use decomposed granite for its ease of maintenance -- you can spot clean it -- and it is low cost. Disappointed in other substrates, some municipalities have switched to decomposed granite over the past decade.
Give Grass a Go
Regular turf grass is one of the most common choices for a dog run. Grass is one of the most comfortable surfaces for your dog and it looks great to have a lush carpet of it inside your dog’s run. While grass has a number of benefits, it also has drawbacks. Grass requires regular maintenance, including watering and cutting. However, the biggest drawback to the use of grass is the fact that your dog may kill it over time.
Wood Chips and Mulch
Some dog owners choose to use wood chips or mulch for their runs. Mulch does have a few benefits, such as its low initial costs, durability and pleasing aesthetic. However, mulch may contain many different bacteria, pests or fungus, which may harm your pet. Mulch tends to break down over time, so you will have to replace it periodically. While any mulch may cause intestinal injury or blockage if swallowed, some types – such as cocoa bean mulch – are toxic as well.
Artificial turf is a viable choice for your dog run, though some people find the aesthetics of such surfaces off-putting. Artificial turf has the advantage of being a one-piece base material, which means that it will not end up all over your yard as particulate base materials may. While artificial turf requires very little maintenance, it does require daily cleaning. Some artificial turfs work better than others do, but high-end products tend to require large initial investments.