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.
“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
Give Your Dog a Job
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.
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
I keep water bowls in a shady spot and fill them daily.
Make a Mini Dog Park
We have a grassy backyard where Larry and Sticky run figure eights around each other.
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
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
Above: Mulch with mini chips that have soft edges and won’t irritate paw pads.
Fence Them In
For more of our favorite strategies for living happily with pets, see:
- Will a “Poisonous” Plant Really Kill Your Pet?
- Hardscaping 101: Pet-Proofing Your House.
- 10 Easy Pieces: Dog Food Bowls.