Skip to main content

«  View All Posts

6 Deck Designs to Create a Pet-Friendly Outdoor Living Space

July 10th, 2024 | 4 min read

By Christine Gauthier

deck designs to create a pet friendly outdoor living space dog standing on decking custom built michigan

Are you a pet owner who loves spending time outdoors but worries about creating a safe and comfortable deck for your furry friends? Many pet owners struggle to find deck designs that accommodate their pets' needs while maintaining a stylish and functional outdoor space.

Without the right considerations, you risk creating an unsafe or uncomfortable environment for your pets, leading to stress and potential hazards.

We get where you’re coming from – you want a space where your pets can play, relax, and enjoy the outdoors safely. At Custom Built Design & Remodeling, we understand how important your pets are to your family. With over 15 years of experience creating customized outdoor living spaces, we have helped many pet owners design pet-friendly and beautiful decks.

In this article, you'll discover six innovative deck designs that prioritize your pets' safety and comfort while enhancing your outdoor living space:

  1. Durable and Non-Slip Decking Materials
  2. Shaded Areas for Comfort
  3. Safe and Secure Railings
  4. Pet-Friendly Landscaping
  5. Built-In Pet Amenities
  6. Safe Deck Edges

1. Durable and Non-Slip Decking Materials

deck designs to create a pet friendly outdoor living space french bulldog laying on top of composite decking custom built michigan

Choosing the right decking material is crucial for a pet-friendly deck. Look for options that are durable, non-slip, and resistant to scratches.

  • Composite Decking: This material is strong, resistant to scratches, and easy to clean, making it ideal for pets.
  • Textured Surfaces: Opt for decking with a textured finish to provide better grip for your pets' paws.
  • Heat-Resistant Materials: Some decking materials stay cooler in the sun, preventing burns on your pets' paws.

Pros and Cons of Installing Wood, Composite, and PVC Decking for Pets

Choosing the right decking material is crucial when creating a pet-friendly outdoor living space. Considering your pet's comfort and safety, here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of wood, composite, and PVC decking:

Wood Decking


  • Initial Cost: Often cheaper upfront compared to composite and PVC.
  • Customizable: It can be stained or painted to match your home’s exterior.
  • Natural Look: Wood provides a classic and natural aesthetic that blends well with any outdoor environment.


  • Splinters: Wood can develop splinters over time, harming pets’ paws.
  • Durability: Prone to rot, decay, and insect damage, which can be exacerbated by pets.
  • Maintenance: Regular sealing, staining, or painting is required to prevent damage from weather and pet wear.

Composite Decking


  • Safety: No splinters, providing a safer surface for pets to walk on.
  • Durability: Highly resistant to scratches, stains, and fading, making it ideal for active pets.
  • Low Maintenance: Doesn’t require staining or sealing and can be easily cleaned with soap and water.


  • Cost: Higher initial cost compared to wood.
  • Weight: Heavier than wood, which might require a stronger support structure.
  • Heat Retention: Can become hot under direct sunlight, potentially uncomfortable for pets’ paws.

PVC Decking


  • Safety: Splinter-free and slip-resistant, ideal for pet safety.
  • Durability: Completely resistant to moisture, rot, and insects.
  • Low Maintenance: Requires minimal upkeep and can be cleaned easily.


  • Cost: Generally the most expensive option.
  • Heat Retention: Similar to composite, it can become very hot in direct sunlight.
  • Appearance: Lacks the natural look of wood, though high-end PVC can mimic wood grain.

Choosing the right decking material for your pet-friendly deck depends on your budget, maintenance preference, and pets' specific needs. Each material offers unique benefits and drawbacks, so consider what works best for your lifestyle and furry friends.

2. Shaded Areas for Comfort

deck designs to create a pet friendly outdoor living space shaded sitting area on composite decking custom built michigan

Pets need protection from the sun, especially during hot summer days. Incorporating shaded areas into your deck design can keep them comfortable and cool.

  • Covered Deck Sections: Consider covering part of your deck to offer a permanent shaded area.
  • Natural Shade: Planting trees or adding tall shrubs around your deck can create natural shade.
  • Pergolas and Awnings: These structures provide ample shade and can be customized to fit your deck's aesthetic.

3. Safe and Secure Railings

deck designs to create a pet friendly outdoor living space trex composite railing with dining area custom built michigan

To ensure your pets' safety, install railings that are high enough to prevent them from jumping over and spaced correctly to avoid getting their heads stuck.

  • Height Considerations: Ensure railings are tall enough to keep larger pets safe.
  • Transparent Panels: Glass or acrylic panels can provide a clear view while ensuring safety.
  • Pet-Safe Railings: Use railings with narrow gaps to prevent small pets from slipping through.

4. Pet-Friendly Landscaping

deck designs to create a pet friendly outdoor living space dog standing on composite decking with potted plants custom built michigan

PC: DecksDirect

Incorporate pet-friendly landscaping elements around your deck to create an inviting and safe environment.

  • Designated Pet Areas: Create specific zones for your pets to play and relax.
  • Soft Ground Coverings: Use pet-safe grass or artificial turf for a comfortable play area.
  • Non-Toxic Plants: Choose safe plants (petunias, marigolds, and sunflowers) for pets and avoid toxic varieties (lilies, tulips, and daffodils).

5. Built-In Pet Amenities

deck designs to create a pet friendly outdoor living space dog relaxing on padded decking furniture custom built michigan

PC: Archadeck Outdoor Living

Adding built-in features specifically for your pets can enhance their enjoyment of the deck.

  • Pet Ramps: Install ramps to help pets navigate different deck levels easily.
  • Pet-Friendly Furniture: Consider built-in benches or beds designed for pets.
  • Water Stations: A built-in water bowl or fountain ensures your pets stay hydrated.

6. Safe Deck Edges

deck designs to create a pet friendly outdoor living space cat standing on composite decking with railing and furniture custom built michigan

PC: DecksDirect

Ensure the edges of your deck are safe and secure to prevent accidents. Install sturdy railings and use non-slip materials to reduce the risk of falls. Regularly inspect and maintain these safety features to keep your outdoor space safe for everyone, including pets and children.

  • Edge Protectors: Install edge protectors for added safety.
  • Rounded Edges: Smooth, rounded edges reduce the risk of injuries.
  • Barrier Plants: Plant low shrubs or bushes along the deck edges to act as a natural barrier.

Next Steps to Building or Remodeling Your Deck for Pet Safety

If you're concerned about creating a safe and enjoyable outdoor space for your pets, it's important to consider these deck design elements. Without proper planning, you risk having a deck that doesn't meet your pets' needs, leading to potential hazards and discomfort.

Following this article's design ideas, you can create a pet-friendly deck that enhances your outdoor living space. You learned how to choose durable materials, incorporate shaded areas, ensure safety with proper railings, and add pet-friendly amenities.

At Custom Built Design & Remodeling, we understand the challenges of designing pet-friendly outdoor spaces. With over 15 years of experience, we've helped countless pet owners create beautiful and safe decks for their furry friends. We know how important it is to balance aesthetics and functionality, and we're here to help you achieve that.

Ready to create your dream pet-friendly deck? Contact our team of design-build professionals today to start planning your project. Visit our website for more inspiration and to see examples of our work. Let's work together to create an outdoor space that you and your pets will love.

custom built design and remodeling deck builders michigan

Now that you know more about deck designs to create a pet-friendly outdoor living space, let’s explore how much composite decks cost, the must-know construction terms for building your summer deck, and the projects that can increase the resale value of your home:

Christine Gauthier