Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

Landscape Ideas: 11 Ways to Make Your Garden Dog Friendly

Search

Landscape Ideas: 11 Ways to Make Your Garden Dog Friendly

January 19, 2018

I don’t know about your dogs. But mine need to be distracted in the garden to prevent destructive behavior. Like toddlers. As surely as you can baby-proof a home to keep a child from sticking a finger in a light socket, you can dog-proof a garden. Here are 11 tips:

Photography by Michelle Slatalla except where noted.

Pay Attention

Meet Larry. He shoots furtive glances over his shoulder as he uproots my lettuce seedlings.
Above: Meet Larry. He shoots furtive glances over his shoulder as he uproots my lettuce seedlings.

“Your dog needs attention,” warns the Humane Society’s Dig This guidelines. “Make sure your dog has sufficient time with you on a daily basis.”

Dogs are pack animals, and want to be with you in the garden. Spend some time watching them watch you. Do they start digging when they think no one is noticing what they are up to? Engage their attention. Tell them to sit or lie by your side while you work; it gives them a purpose.

Make Surfaces Pet Friendly

Meet Sticky. She is happy to walk on paths instead of through the garden beds because the pea gravel underfoot has no sharp edges and surface never gets too hot.
Above: Meet Sticky. She is happy to walk on paths instead of through the garden beds because the pea gravel underfoot has no sharp edges and surface never gets too hot.

Give Your Dog a Job

To give my dogs a sense of purpose, we laid a path alongside the fence to make it easier for them to patrol for squirrels.
Above: To give my dogs a sense of purpose, we laid a path alongside the fence to make it easier for them to patrol for squirrels.

We all like to feel as if we have a calling in life. For dogs, patrolling the yard is a priority. Larry and Sticky believe their job is to patrol the perimeter, to keep the property safe from squirrels, bumblebees, and the occasional stray leaf that wafts to the ground.

Encourage Playdates

Butterflies, crows, and bees count among Larry and Sticky&#8
Above: Butterflies, crows, and bees count among Larry and Sticky’s playmates. Plus, they have each other.

The more pollinator-friendly plants in your garden, the more playmates for dogs. In my garden foxgloves, milkweed, and scabiosa have self-seeded and spread through the planting beds to create butterfly landing zones.

Create Comfort Zones

Dogs get hot fast when they run around; make sure there&#8
Above: Dogs get hot fast when they run around; make sure there’s a cool shady spot under a tree or an awning where they can lie down and recover from all that squirrel work.

Water Bowls

Working up a sweat.
Above: Working up a sweat.

I keep water bowls in a shady spot and fill them daily.

Make a Mini Dog Park

Designate a play area for fetch and chase games.
Above: Designate a play area for fetch and chase games.

We have a grassy backyard where Larry and Sticky run figure eights around each other.

Harmless Missiles

Play fetch with a small, harmless object that won&#8
Above: Play fetch with a small, harmless object that won’t destroy your prize peonies. Tiny tennis balls good for this purpose (if you have a small dog).

If your dog is too big for tiny tennis balls, consider regular size tennis balls; they’re not too destructive. A six-pack of small, Larry-size Mini Tennis Balls is $6.20 from Amazon.

Plant a Sturdy Garden

Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.
Above: Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.

Face it; there will be wrestling and rough housing; you don’t want your dogs careening into your foxgloves because that will be the end of the foxgloves. Plant sturdy perennial grasses or dense edging plants like boxwood or low, resilient creepers–like, say, thyme–as a buffer zone between the dogs’ play area and fragile flowers.

Mind the Mulch

Photograph by Meredith Swinehart.
Above: Photograph by Meredith Swinehart.

Above: Mulch with mini chips that have soft edges and won’t irritate paw pads.

Fence Them In

Keep dogs safe by fencing the garden; they&#8
Above: Keep dogs safe by fencing the garden; they’ll have room to roam and you won’t have to worry they’ll end up in the street or the neighbors’ yards.

Resign Yourself

 Dogs mark their territory. It&#8
Above: Dogs mark their territory. It’s a thing they do. If you see your dog marking on plants or grass, use a hose to flood the area and dissipate the effects before plants turn brown or wilt. If you miss a spot, well, grass grows back.

For more of our favorite strategies for living happily with pets, see:

Product summary  

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

v5.0