Last month we talked about how to protect your veggie or flower garden from doggie destruction. In this edition we want to tell you how to build a yard that is not only dog-proof, but dog-friendly!
The first step is safety. What is in your yard that could potentially harm your dog? There are many common flowers that are toxic to pooches, including daffodils, azaleas, and rhododendron. If you have a vegetable plot, make sure that harmful items like garlic, onions, potatoes and tomatoes (the green parts can upset tummies!) are moved out of the reach of Fido’s curious mouth or have a barrier around them to prevent snacking. Cocoa bean mulch is awfully appealing to dogs but dangerous if eaten. Consult the extensive list at aspca.org if you are uncertain whether your plantings are toxic to dogs or not.
This is also a good time to walk the perimeter of your yard and ensure that your fence is intact and doesn’t have any loose spots where your pup can wiggle under. Make sure gates latch securely and fill in any holes in the lawn that can cause your dog to stumble in while running around.
Next, if your dog spends a good amount of time in the yard does she have access to a shady spot and plenty of clean water? There are several outdoor water fountains on the market that attach to a spigot and provide your dog with fresh water, some even have a motion detector! Not only will this give your pooch access to limitless water, but that water will not be stagnant and filled with the leaves and bugs that can contaminate a water bowl. Dog houses aren’t ideal spots for a dog to seek refuge from the sun because they trap heat. An enticing spot under a tree, the shade of an awning, umbrella, or tarp is safer. There are also “cooling” beds on the market that provide a hot dog with a cold spot to lay when the days really heat up.
Even if your yard is small, consider making room for some things for your dog to do while he’s out there. Jumps and tunnels can be found online or you can make them yourself with a little ingenuity! See our instructions on making a simple bar jump that can be taken apart and tucked away when not in use . More DIY agility equipment ideas can be found here and here.
A dedicated digging pit provides not only a place for Fido to burn off energy but a cool place to lay. Bury stuffed Kongs, outdoor toys, or dry treats just below the surface and encourage your dog to dig for the prize! You can build up a specific area in an out of the way spot using lumber or garden edging to mark the boundaries or grab a child’s sandbox to fill with sand or dirt. A box with a cover has the added advantage of being safe from wandering cats and rain. Make sure your dog’s digging area is at least partially shaded, he won’t use it if it’s uncomfortable to hang out in. More digging pit tips can be found here!
In hot weather, some dogs enjoy a shallow pool to wade or lay in. Empty and refill with fresh water every few days to prevent mosquitos from breeding! You can encourage your dog to climb in by floating fun toys or treats in the water.
Enjoy the warm weather and sunshine, and most of all, enjoy your dog!