Gardening and backyards are supposed to be relaxing and a place to enjoy. If you have pets sometimes keeping the garden areas and trees protected can be a challenge but with a little planning, everyone can be happy.
photo credit: garlandcannon
I have had many dogs and with a little encouragement they have done well around and even in the garden. My one dog Bear would lie between the garden rows and watch me work. After I was done we would head to the creek and play stick and watch the geese. The geese have created more problems in the garden for me.
Two important things that will help your area to be dog friendly is to make sure your dog has a place for water and shade and that is his place to retreat to.
A garden or yard that has paths will keep the dog in control and being more informal the dog will chose a play area and quite often ignore the garden and plants.
In formal gardens, anything that sticks out may be considered a play toy. A small bush will look like a toy to him so if your buying new trees or bushes get a larger size. Chicken wire around new planting will discourage dogs, and other small animals from disturbing them.
photo credit: Guillermo Esteves
A few tips for a pet-friendly garden
Introduce your dog to the yard and garden. I usually walk my dog on a leash and when he shows improper attention to a certain area I correct him. We make this walking into a game, which he really enjoys. When I feel comfortable I will let him off the leash and carry his favorite treat with me. If he strays he is called back, we play in close range with a toy and he gets a treat. It’s amazing how fast the dog will learn.
Plants and trees in mounds act like a visual barrier to a dog. Once he learns this are is off limits he will usually leave them alone. When you plant new trees, shrubs or plants use the leash again until he has accepted the new plants and reward all positive behavior.
Many people use fences, particularly in towns. They say a good fence makes for a good dog. Four feet is high enough, but for some athletic dogs fences will need to be five or six feet high. I do not have a fence living in the country but if I did my cattle dog would require the best and tallest fencing I could buy!
Gaps in fences create problems, as curious dogs can wedge their heads between boards and even get out. Avoid large gaps between the fence and the ground for those dogs that love to break loose.
If you have a digger you may have to run small amount of fence under the ground. This should discourage him.
You could also decide if you should fence the whole yard or just put in a dog run. I myself have a dog run for daytime when I am not around and want the dog to have fresh air and exercise. The rest of the time Taz (my cattle dog in on leash or directly by my side.) Taz is a well-trained dog, but that has taken effort!
Avoid bare soil in a pet-friendly garden – it’s a perfect invitation for dogs (and cats) to dig. If you find you have a digger, which I do, put in a dog-digging pit. Choose a place out of the way and let your dog have a party! My pit is by my compost bin and the dog digs when lays down to cool off on hot days. My neighbor lets his dog dig behind some tall hedges. Once in a while he fills the pit in and the dog goes wild.
Plant perennials close together, and choose tough pet-friendly plants. Thyme, cotoneaster, sweet woodruff or periwinkle between larger woody plants.
Planting shrubs and grasses in masses will deter dogs form cutting through, they will go around them. Again, planting in mounds discourages dogs from entering the area.
Use inorganic mulch such as potato stones or pea gravel where appropriate. If you’re trying to get a new area of lawn to grow, sod is quicker to establish than seed, especially with pets using the yard.
Dogs need a place to go. If they have a designated place they will not turn your grass yellow and put you on doggie cleanup duty. I have a place under a pine tree with pine chips and scattered rocks. It’s out of the way but close enough is his place. A place to use will also discourage dogs who like to mark trees and bushes. Dog can be trained to use a doggie relieve center in a few weeks with positive rewards and playtime.
Gardens are a little trickier. Dogs see you playing and want to join in on the fun. Fencing works if you want to go that route. I myself have had great results with raised beds. It discourages, dogs, cats and other small animals.
A permanent enclosure, such as an attractive picket fence is good idea for an herb or vegetable garden where you don’t want any dog or cat toilet activities to occur.
There are many chemical grass sprays and weed controls that are harmful to dogs and other wildlife. Be careful with what you use. I myself do not use any chemicals in my yard.
Most of all enjoy your pet and your garden!