Going through this myself, my problem in my yard is the dust (an irritant to my dog's eyes), then mud (an irritant to me), when it does rain. Your first thing to deal with in your yard is drainage. My dog's urine output is around 2 litres (8 cups) a day, so drainage, potential smell and absorption need to be considered. I need a low impact surface to protect joints. The options I've narrowed my 'search' down to are:
Artificial grass, potential for being too hot in summer, smelling, my dog could shred it
pea gravel, the potential to tear up paws and not low impact
coarse river sand, could be dusty but adding water storage crystals could solve that issue. Sand needs to be 4 inches deep
cattle mats, could lay them over pea gravel for an 'industrial/agricultural' look for my 'frisbee runway'
mulch or sawdust, potential to harbour pests and splinters, and a possible allergen