Spring has finally sprung, and most of us couldn’t be happier to see it. Flowers are blooming, trees are budding and we can finally take our dogs out for more than a shiver-inducing 5-minute walk.
This is the time of year you’re thinking about what plants and flowers you’d like in your gardens for the summer months and heading out to your local nursery to pick up supplies.
You may think that dogs and gardens just don’t mix, but we’re here to tell you they can — and beautifully. Here are some ideas to take into consideration.
The first thing that comes to mind when you think “garden” is plants and flowers. But keep in mind that some plants are toxic to dogs.
These plants are both beautiful and safe for your dogs:
- Windmill palms
- African violets
- Roses (but be careful about thorns)
Avoid plants with sharp spines or lots of thorns to prevent eye or piercing injuries.
Conversely, there are many plants that are known to be toxic. Before making plant purchases, check out the ASPCA’s list to see what to avoid (it’s a pretty massive list).
You may have certain areas that you prefer your dogs to stay out of. Around these areas, place things like driftwood or rocks to create an appealing border. You can also purchase different types of border walls to place around vegetable gardens or other areas your dog should not access.
The trick to getting these areas to work for you and your dog is simple: training.
“It surprises some dog owners to know that their dog can show as much respect for outdoor living spaces as they do for your indoor ones,” says Cheryl S. Smith in Dog Friendly Gardens: Garden Friendly Dogs. A little time and a lot of patience will go a long way toward saving your off-limits garden areas.
Designate a Toilet Area
We have our bathrooms, so why not include one in your garden for your dog? Not only will this simplify yard cleanup, but also it helps ensure your dog doesn’t “go” in hard-to-reach spots like densely planted areas and spares your lawn from “burned” areas caused by urine.
Even better, this type of training falls under regular house training and can be done with dogs of any age except very young puppies (who probably won’t be going outside much anyway.)
“When he goes out in the garden, take him to this place on the leash and wait until he’s relieved himself,” advises Karen Bush in Dog-Friendly Gardening. “You should then praise and reward him, and let him off the leash to have some fun.”
Be aware that some dogs learn faster than others, so be patient with your dog if it’s taking them a while to get the message. With consistency and patience, they’ll get it.
This garden was made specifically for dogs at the Royal Horticultural Society Flower Show:
So many dogs love to dig, but it wreaks havoc on our gardens. For many breeds, digging is just something they do, and it’s much easier for us to redirect it than trying to stop it altogether. You can solve this by adding a special place in your garden just for your dog to dig in and then training them to dig only in this space.
“How big it is depends on how much space you can spare, but if possible, dimensions that are twice as long as your dog in width and length will give him plenty of room,” says Bush.
Your pet’s pit need not be topped with anything fancy. Regular soil will do, and Bush advises staying away from sand, as sometimes ingestion will cause stomach upset, as well as chemically treated composts.
It will be even more fun for your dog if you bury treats and toys for them to find — they’ll never want to leave the pit!
There are many ways to create an outdoor space that is beautiful and dog-friendly. Creative bed and yard borders, a variety of non-toxic plants, consistent training and special dog-only areas combined will make your backyard a place both you and your dogs can enjoy.