How to keep your dog pen from turning into a muddy swamp

Updated April 17, 2017

When building a pen for an outdoor dog, pet owners may not realise the lush green grass inside their pet's pen will eventually erode away. Dogs tend to run and jump during play or when excited. The grass ultimately dies from the frequent pounding of the pet's paws. Without grass, the pen's floor area turns to soil. When it rains, the soil turns to mud. Urine and faeces mix with the mud, making the pen unhealthy for your pet. If you dread going into your dog's pen after a rain, take steps to keep your dog pen from turning into a muddy swamp.


Rake away leaves and debris along the lower edges of the dog pen. These contribute to a muddy pen by blocking water runoff.

Install rubber kennel mats. Animal and pet supply retailers offer rubber kennel mats in various sizes. They allow water runoff and are removable for cleaning. Follow package directions for installation.

Move the dog pen to a different location. If your dog pen sits in a low place that collects water, enlist some help and move the pen to a flat location, if a slight slope does not exist.


Erect a canopy over the pen. Measure the perimeter from the edges of the pen. The tarpaulin should reach all four sides of the pen.

Follow the long centre of the pen and place a 5 by 10 cm (2 by 4 inch) piece of timber upright at each end of the pen. Stabilise the boards by wiring them to the pen. Run another board across the pen to each vertical board. Nail the horizontal board to the vertical boards to form a support for a tarpaulin canopy.

Stretch the tarpaulin across the horizontal board. Attach the edges of the tarpaulin to the pen's upper frame. Use grommet ball-ties or short lengths of wire. Insert and secure the ties through each grommet.

Cement run

Remove grass and topsoil from the pen area. Clear away any organic material, such as tree branches and leaves. Organic material and topsoil are not suitable for soil-cement applications. Soils that contain aggregates, sand, or clay help strengthen the cement-soil.

Pour dry cement over the ground and rake it evenly over the entire area. Use one bag for every 2.2 square metres (24 square feet) of soil area.

Use a garden tiller to mix the cement into the soil, about 12.5 cm (5 inches) deep. Continue tilling the entire area before stopping.

Spray the soil and cement with water using a garden hose and nozzle. Add enough water to wet the soil but not enough to wash out the soil.

Blend the water and mixture thoroughly, using the garden tiller. Carry on the tilling process without stopping. Once water mixes with cement, it begins to set.

Form a ball out of the soil to test its readiness. If it breaks in half without crumbling, the mixture is correct and the soil is ready to rake. If the soil crumbles, spray more water over the area and blend the mix again. Repeat the soil test process.

Rake the surface of the soil-cement smoothly. Tamp the area down with a hand or power tamper. Spray the area with a fine spray to moisten the soil.

Cure the soil-cement for at least seven days without letting the surface dry out. If you need to add moisture to the soil, sprinkle the surface lightly.


Soil-cement is not as hard as concrete, but the soil becomes quite stable. The product is stable enough to use on roads and dams, depending on the cement and soil ratio, at less the cost.


Always use portland cement when mixing soil-cement. Otherwise, the soil will not stabilise correctly.

Things You'll Need

  • Rake
  • Rubber kennel mats
  • 5 by 10 cm (2 by 4 inch) timber
  • 8.9 mm (3 1/2 inch) nails
  • Tarpaulin canopy
  • Grommet ball-ties
  • Guy-wire
  • Wire-cutters
  • Shovel
  • Garden tiller
  • Water hose with nozzle
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About the Author

Gloria Hutson lives in Salem, Mo. She has been writing articles for various websites since 2009. She maintains two blogs that cover craft ideas and genealogical research. She holds a Master of Science degree in justice and security administration from the University of Phoenix and a bachelor’s degree in history from Missouri University of Science and Technology.