How to Build an Affordable & Easy Dog Run

A dog run keeps your pup safe in the fresh air when you can't walk him.

A dog run keeps your pup safe in the fresh air when you can't walk him.

No matter how big or small, every dog needs exercise and fresh air. Walks are a great way to provide both, but when you can't give Fido the recreation he loves best, having a small backyard run lets him play outside safely without the expense of fencing the entire yard.

Planning the Run

Measure the area you want to enclose to determine the amount of fencing to buy. Most pet fencing comes in 25-, 50- or 100-foot long rolls.

Decide the height of the run. Pet fencing comes in heights usually ranging from 2 feet to 6 feet. If your dog jumps or climbs easily, consider a taller fence. If your dog digs, plan an extra foot of height to allow for burying part of the fence.

Choose woven or welded wire fencing with an appropriately-sized mesh. Small dogs can easily step through 4-by-4-inch mesh, but 2-by-2-inch fencing works well for most dogs. For large or very active dogs consider woven wire fencing, which is sturdier and more flexible than welded wire.

Select T-posts of the appropriate length for the fence height. Allow extra length for buried portions of the posts. Buy one post for each corner, plus posts for every 8 feet along the length of the run.

Plan the placement of a human-sized entry for cleaning and maintenance first, for setting wooden fence posts to hold the gate.

Include space in the design for a dog house or shelter from sun and showers. You may want to include an outdoor feeding station with water bowl too.

Setting Gate Posts

Dig a hole 3- to 3.5-feet deep at each side where you want the gate, keeping the finished fence height and gate width in mind for correct installation.

Set posts in the holes, checking that they are vertical using a level. Temporarily brace them in place with scrap lumber, and see that they line up with one another.

Mix a bag of pre-mix concrete according to directions and pour half of it around each post – tamping it firmly into the hole and double-checking to ensure the posts are vertical from both directions. Allow the concrete to set for at least 24 hours.

Back-fill the dirt around each posts and tamp the soil down firmly.

Building the Run

Measure and mark the outlines of the run on the ground with chalk dust or lime.

Pound in a T-post at each corner and adjacent to the house wall where the fence will meet it, using a T-post driver to set the posts. Add posts as needed along the length and width of the run, using a level to ensure that each post is straight.

Secure the posts adjacent to the house wall with heavy-gauge stainless steel wire or cable through closed eye-bolts screwed directly into the wall near the middle and top of the posts.

Start by attaching the fencing to one of the posts anchored to the house using T-post ties at least every foot along the length of the post – starting at ground level.

Stretch the fence tightly to the first corner post and attach it with T-post ties. Continue stretching the fence from the corner T-post to the wooden gate post, and secure it there with fencing staples nailed over the wire into the post. Fasten the fencing to all the intervening posts using T-post clips, then repeat the process for the other side of the run.

Cut the fencing a few inches past each gate post, bend it back on itself, and nail the cut ends to the post so no wires poke out to snag you or your dog.

Attach the gate hinges and locking mechanisms on the wooden posts to either side of the gate area according to package directions and hang the gate to finish.

Items you will need

  • Measuring tape
  • Woven or welded wire pet fencing, sized for your dog
  • T-posts, sized to match fencing
  • Shovel
  • Level
  • 1 bag, pre-mix concrete
  • Wooden posts, fence height plus 3 feet
  • Scrap lumber
  • Chalk dust or lime
  • Fence post driver
  • Heavy-gauge stainless steel wire or small diameter cable
  • Closed-eye bolts, as required
  • T-post ties
  • Fencing tool or wire-cutting pliers, as needed
  • Hammer and nails
  • Gate, human-sized
  • Gate hardware
  • Doggy door, through-the-wall style


  • Use a doggy-door for convenient pet access to the run from inside your house.
  • Bury a foot of fencing in the ground or fold and lay part of it outside the fence to prevent your doggie escape-artist from digging his way out.
  • Pour a concrete strip or lay bricks a foot or so wide under the gate to discourage digging in that vulnerable area as well.


  • For home safety, the run should not block your back door.
  • Before digging in your backyard, call 811 to see if there are buried utilities in the area.

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