Decking Tips For Small Dog Owners

A deck off the backdoor or the master bedroom is a wonderful way to extend your living space into the outdoors. It can also be a safe place to let a small dog out to get fresh air when you are busy inside the house. The key is to make sure the deck is designed with the dog's safety in mind. The following tips can help you do just that.

Tip #1: Choose a solid deck railing

Small dogs can often squeeze through spaces in a traditional deck rail, so a solid rail is a better choice. If you prefer the look of pickets, you will need to make sure they are close enough together so that your dog can't squeeze their head through. Another option is to get a glass deck railing. This won't block the view but it ensures that there is no danger to your dog.

Tip #2: Watch the board gaps

Another issue is the actual decking part of the deck. Gaps between the boards can trap a small paw or leg, leading to an injury for your pooch. When choosing a deck design, opt for one that has minimal to no gaps to avoid this problem. Wood decking is more likely to have gaps simply because it swells and shrinks with the weather. You may want to consider vinyl decking, which can look surprisingly like wood, instead. Vinyl allows you to have a solid decking surface.

Tip #3: Install skirting boards

Even a solid railing typically has a gap on the bottom. This is mainly there to allow moisture to run off the deck, and it's a necessary component if you have solid vinyl decking. Much like the railing, you will need to make sure this bottom gap is too narrow for your dog to fit their head through. You can also install a skirting board that has small perforations to allow water drainage. These perforations are too small for even a paw to fit through.

Tip #4: Secure the perimeter

Dogs can be quite crafty when looking for an escape. Install a self-closing gate at the top of the stairs leading down from the deck. The gate should also latch automatically and it should reach near enough the ground so that a dog can't squeeze underneath it. Another thing to watch for are items your dog can climb. Chairs, flower pots, and other items low enough for a small dog to jump onto should never be placed close to the railing, since these can provide the necessary elevation for them to jump over the rail.

For more help, talk to a deck installer in your area.