Gardens can be wonderful and stimulating places for dogs to play outdoors.
But if not properly set up, they can also pose a number of dangers you don’t want your pooch exposed to. Do you know what it takes to make your garden a safe space for your dog?
This article will take you through 6 tips that will help ensure both you and your dog are able to be healthy and happy in your garden!
Build solid inner/outer boundaries
Allthingsdogs.com say “One of the most important considerations for a dog-friendly garden is making sure it is a fenced-in area”. The fence should be at least 6 feet tall to ensure your dog can’t jump over it, and there should be no holes, gaps, or cracks.
If fencing in your whole yard is not an option, you can also set up a pen out of a play fence for your dog to be in that will keep them contained. This works best if you have a smaller dog.
As for inner boundaries, it is up to you how/whether you want to block off your plants so your curious dog can’t get to them. Dog owners report having success with small picket fences, raised flower beds, and rings of deterring thorny plants around the more delicate ones.
If you choose to have plants that are toxic to your dog (more on this in the next tip), they must be secured by a strong fence that your dog won’t be able to get through.
Know what plants are toxic vs. safe
You might be surprised to learn that some plants you already have growing in your garden are toxic for your dog. Some common ones include aconite, buttercup, chrysanthemum, crocus, daffodil, daphne, delphinium, foxglove, hyacinth, hydrangea, lily, tomato, tulip, and yew.
Take an inventory of your garden and remove any plants that could be harmful to your dog. Be sure to take out the root structures when you pull them up, so that they don’t regrow.
There are still plenty of plants you can grow that are safe for your dog! Some to get you started are camellia, marigolds, fuchsia, magnolia bushes, creeping thyme, sunflowers, rosemary, and snapdragons!
Avoid toxic chemicals
Many dog owners have seen their pooches eating grass. This is a common behavior in dogs and generally is nothing to worry about. The problems come in when the grass has been treated with certain pesticides or herbicides. Most of these products will not pose any threat to your dog’s safety, but there are a few you should watch for and avoid.
The most common is glyphosate, which is most often used to eliminate weeds. If you have reason to believe your dog ate grass that has been treated with glyphosate, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Signs of glyphosate toxicity in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and excessive salivation.
Another harmful chemical is the pesticide Disulfoton. It is no longer sold in most stores, but will sometimes show up in products that protect roses. Not only is it toxic, it’s often mixed with fertilizers such as bone meal and blood, which makes it extremely appealing to dogs. Taken together, this combination can be deadly.
Make the garden a snail-free zone
Did you know that snails and slugs are poisonous to dogs? You don’t generally want these pests in around your plants anyway, but especially if you have a dog who will be spending time in the garden, it is vital to manage the presence of these bugs.
Snails and slugs can carry a parasite called lungworm that infect your dog if he eats them, or even licks the slime trail of a lungworm-carrying bug. Signs of lungworm include breathing difficulties, lethargy, seizures, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, and poor blood clotting.
All of these signs can also be symptoms of other illnesses. Be sure to contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns about the health of your dog. Lungworm usually effects puppies and senior dogs the most severely, and if untreated, the parasite can unfortunately be fatal.
For this reason, it’s incredibly important to prevent snails and slugs from entering your garden in the first place.
When selecting a pesticide to prevent snails and slugs, avoid anything containing Metaldehyde. This is another chemical that’s poisonous to dogs and can cause seizures and even death. A safer option is bait that contains ferric phosphate.
Choose sturdier plants
Sometimes the best way to dog-proof a space is to anticipate accidents. You don’t plan for your dog to dig up the flowers you worked so hard to plant, but instinctively, dogs love to dig and while you can put systems in place to deter this behavior, it’s always possible that they get into things they’re not supposed to.
If you choose plants that are fully grown or sturdier for your garden, they will be more likely to survive the wear and tear they may end up taking from your dog than if they excitedly dig at young, delicate shoots.
If your dog does happen to dig up or trample over your plants, don’t hit, yell, or punish them. They won’t understand that they’ve done anything wrong and will learn to be scared of you rather than learn not to run over your flowers. Calmly put your dog inside while you clean up, and understand that these are liabilities when you have your dog in your garden.
Always supervise your dog outside
Even if you’ve followed the other 5 tips and are confident your dog won’t escape or eat plants or snails that will hurt them, you should always be present with your dog when they are in the garden.
If your dog is a toy breed or a puppy, there is a risk of hawks mistaking them as prey. If you live somewhere snakes are common, this is also a cause for concern.
Bored dogs are troublesome dogs, and are liable to dig up plants, snack on gravel or mulch, and cause other ruckus.
By being outside with your dog, even if you are busy working in the garden, you can keep a watchful eye on them to make sure they don’t get into anything they shouldn’t.
The garden is a great place for your dog! They will love spending time outside sniffing around and exploring your yard.
But before you open the back door to your pooch, be sure to safeguard against the numerous hazards that commonly crop up in gardens: make sure the space is well-enclosed and free of toxic plants, chemicals, and insects. Always supervise your dog and understand that they may make mistakes.
With these safety measures in place, you and your dog will be free to enjoy the garden worry-free!
How have you made your garden dog-friendly? Let us know in the comments below!