Do dogs and gardens go together? Well, they do as long as you provide proper training.
Even old dogs can learn new tricks if you teach them. When you have a puppy, training is mandatory if you want to have a well-behaved canine citizen.
When welcoming a puppy into your home the best part is that you get to teach him from day one what is allowed and what isn’t.
The same applies to your garden. Your dog needs to know how to behave around the garden, what is allowed, and what is off-limits.
Let it know right away what parts of the garden are a big no-no, and what parts are ok to chill in.
Never assume that puppies can’t learn, because they can. Even puppies as young as six weeks old can master basic commands.
A Dog-friendly Garden
Creating a dog-friendly garden requires time, dedication, and a hard-working season. Luckily, it will all pay off eventually. Having a pet-friendly garden will mean a lot both to you and your dog.
Just like with any other aspect of gardening, you should expect some errors, bottlenecks, and trials. However, with the right guidelines, there is a way to keep your garden as you wish and your dog happy.
Dog-Friendly Gardening Tips and Ideas
Read on for real-life tips and ideas to keep curious paws out of garden beds, learn which plants are safe for dogs, and what are other important things that you should know about gardening and dogs.
1. Prepare Your Dog for Success
General obedience training is a must. No matter how well-behaved your dog is and how calm his nature is, you can never go wrong with basics.
With that in the mind, make sure that your dog goes through the general obedience basics.
If your dog understands commands to stop, heel, and sit you are already halfway there. These commands are very helpful in those digging and napping moments when your dog spots a new flower.
Puppies can learn basic commands as early as six weeks, and even older dogs can learn new tricks. You can teach your dog that a garden is a quiet place for relaxing.
Arm yourself with patience and be consistent: when your dog has the energy to burn, teach him the appropriate place for zoomies, research, and play-time.
Teach your dog that time for play is outside on a walk, on a hike, or at the dog park.
Use treats to reward your canine every time he stays out of your garden.
2. Know What Plants Are Toxic
The best-dog-friendly garden is free of toxic and dangerous plants.
With that in mind, make sure that you know about plants that might hurt your dog and how.
Check the most poisonous plants for dogs and avoid having them in your garden.
This sounds so simple, but in reality, it’s a very basic step from where you can build up. After all, better safe than sorry:
- Make sure that the existing plants are safe for your dog
- Remove any toxic plants
- If you had any toxic plants, remove the roots as well, because you want to avoid regrowth
- Never use any chemical plant or week killers as a dog might ingest these
- If you must grow any toxic plants create a safe-to-grow area of the garden with a fence
3. Make The Garden Stimulating
Creating different routes through the garden, such as clearly defined paths and designated play or digging areas will keep your dog stimulated.
Differing textures of the surfaces can be stimulating underfoot, and plants such as salix and ornamental grasses dance and sway, providing entertainment.
4. Use Strong Smells to Deter Digging
As with most of our tips, preventing some of your dog’s natural behaviors will likely be necessary.
Here are some scents that may help to curb dogs from digging in the garden:
Spices can be used to ring particular plants or garden spots where Fido isn’t welcome. Ground mustard or crushed dried pepper can be effective.
Coffee grounds generally make dogs steer clear.
An additional bonus is that coffee grounds make for a great fertilizer in many cases, so you get two benefits in one!
Some swear by a plant called Coleus Canina to ward off dogs and cats, especially along a border as a deterrent.
Rosemary, sage, and bitter orange have pungent smells, and dogs are less likely to approach them.
5. Plant Robust Plants
Boisterous dogs can damage young plants, or those with delicate stems, either by digging them up or running through them.
Plant large, established perennials and choose robust plants such as nepeta, astilbe, and hardy geranium (avoid Pelargonium species, which can be toxic to dogs and, confusingly, have the common name geranium).
Use a good backbone of sturdy shrubs such as viburnum or shrub roses.
6. Protect Your Plants And Lawn
Dogs can ruin lawns and borders so create a designated area for play or digging, using sand or bark.
To prevent a dog from running through your borders, you could create paths through them, or create clearly defined boundaries, such as a low-growing box hedge. Raised beds are a great option, too.
7. Keep Dogs Away From Slugs And Snails
Keep an eye on your dog and make sure that it doesn’t eat slugs or snails. Avoid using non-organic slug pellets, as these are toxic to all wildlife.
Lungworms can be contracted by eating infected slugs, snails, or frogs. Signs include difficulty breathing, coughing, lethargy, and bleeding for longer than normal.
8. Secure Your Compost Bin
Compost bins containing food scraps can potentially be attractive to dogs and may contain contents that can harm them.
9. Avoid Urine Spots With Hardscape
Dogs and lawn grass do not mix well. Or they do?
For small areas, consider switching from a grassy expanse to a hardscape, which consists of non-living landscaping materials such as bricks, concrete pavers, and stones.
The advantages of hardscape go beyond solutions to landscaping with dogs, since hardscape offers a low-maintenance alternative to grass that obviates lawn care, which can be not only labor-intensive but also expensive.
Stone and masonry are especially useful for pooch owners because they minimize the mess dogs make through digging, urination, and plain old wear and tear.
Make liberal use of crushed stone mulch.
If you grow plants in such mulch in a sunny area, select drought-resistant plants, since stone gets hot in the summer. Do not place the stone mulch directly up against the plants.
Plant Toxicity Awareness
If the seedings in your yard possess any significant degree of diversity, there’s a good chance that you’re growing poisonous plants without even knowing it.
You would be surprised at how many of the most common landscape plants and native volunteers contain at least some parts (leaves, berries, etc.) that are toxic.
If you have dogs, cats, or small children, it benefits you to learn more about poisonous plants.
Create A Safe Haven For Your Dog
Even the best-trained dog will follow you to the garden. Dogs, right? You cannot stop them from doing what they are designed to do.
Can you imagine yourself sitting in your garden without your canine next to you? Probably not!
So, to keep both your dog happy and your garden in the best order, you should go the extra mile and create a safe haven for your furry buddy.
Plant flowers and plants that are dog-friendly and place a waterproof pillow for your canine to enjoy next to safe flowers.
Make sure that you plant those flowers next to your favorite chair or your spot, so you two can enjoy together the nice weather and sun.
This simple move will also help your dog to learn faster which areas are off-limits.
What About Ponds?
Having a pond in your garden is perfect. It helps you survive the long summer days and it can even encourage your plants to grow and have a breeze from time to time.
Plus, your dog will love it if he can jump in from time to time.
Before you install your dream pond, ask yourself – Is it ok for me to let my dog swim/chill inside or not, and go from there.
If you are using chemicals to keep the pond clean, your dog shoudl probably stay away.
Always double check if household items cna be used around dogs or not. Remember: safety always comes first.
The Bottom Line
Sometimes you can have it all. Having a nice garden with rocks and ponds is possible even when you have pets.
Dogs love spending time outdoors, so it seems only fitting to combine gardening and dogs, right?
Do it carefully, well-planned, and give yourself extra time to do it right.
Just like with anything else, dogs need time to learn things, to understand where they can go and why, and why they should stay away from certain areas.
The key here is balance. Learn which plants to avoid and how to adjust your dog to this green area.
Don’t forget – the earlier you start training your dog the better.
Old dogs can learn new tricks as well, but if you are getting a puppy start gardening-training and training in general, as soon as you bring him home. Enjoy your gardening!