A few rules and design features can help keep your landscaping intact.
Given the opportunity, a rambunctious dog can cause chaos in your landscaped garden, tearing paths through the lush lawn, dotting it with yellow pee patches, trampling floral accents and chomping on shrubs. All it takes is a few ground rules and some basic dog-friendly design features to ensure that the garden can be a place that you and your pet can enjoy together.
Dogs should never be left alone for long periods in the garden. When boredom sets in, that’s when they will look for things to dig and chew and possibly look for an escape route.
The secret to successfully sharing your yard is to ensure your dog understands basic training commands such as “No Dig” and “No Play.” Such commands can help teach him the difference between areas designated for dog games and those where he must stay by your side.
The “No Chew” command is another one your pooch needs to know. And if you have a new puppy, or a newly adopted adult dog, consider screening off sections until you have taught him these basic commands so that he understands there are garden rules.
However, when planning your garden, it’s important to keep in mind that dogs don’t understand property lines and flat spaces; they need verticality to designate boundaries and areas. The best way to do this is with shrubs or fencing.
In order to share your outdoor space, it’s a good idea to design adventure paths and areas where your dog can have fun without causing chaos. Start by assessing how your dog uses the garden; notice where he likes to play, where he likes to walk and sniff. And, most importantly, pay attention to the spot he’s chosen as his toilet area. Then, create pathways where your dog can run and call his own. Surfaces such as bricks, flagstones, gravel, cedar chips or wooden steps are paw-friendly and make an attractive feature in the landscape.
Also, be sure not to plant anything thorny along pathways. And if you are unsure whether a plant is toxic, do some homework on line. Sites like ASPCA.org provide lists of toxic and nontoxic plants.
Because dogs love to explore and investigate, it’s a great idea to create special feature spots where they can stop and sniff? A section of log that will decompose over time surrounded by ornamental grasses or perennials creates a wonderful sniff area.
Also set aside a designated toilet area and train your pet to eliminate here. A pheromone-treated garden stake that attracts dogs is a useful training device in helping your dog determine the right spot. Male dogs will appreciate a permanent marking post in their toilet area. You can use anything from driftwood to a fire hydrant garden statue. To keep your doggie toilet hygienic and low maintenance, cover the ground with an easy to clean material such as pea gravel or cedar chips. You can even use synthetic lawn, which is easy to spray down and keep clean.
Finally consider placing a special outdoor dog bed or mattress under your pergola or shade structure so you can spend some special outdoor quality time together.
About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Catster, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats