Dogs. As a nation we love them. They are always happy to see us, forgive easily and are as loyal as can be. However sometimes our gardens do not appreciate them quite as much as we do. Dogs are curious creatures and will think nothing of digging up your favourite plants with pure delight. With the warmer weather now well and truly here, we want our dogs to be able to enjoy the outside but we do not want them to destroy all our hard work in the garden. With these six simple steps, both your family and your pet can enjoy all that the summer months have to offer.
- Check your fences and borders for any damage. Dogs will sniff out even the smallest of holes and before you know it they are gone. Try to fix any holes as soon as they appear to save yourself hours roaming the streets calling for Rover. Certain smaller breeds such as terriers, will happily dig for hours trying to get underneath a fence so ensure they are sturdy. Also be sure to make sure all your fences are tall enough. Six foot high is normally recommended as you will be surprised how high a dog can jump when they really want to. Along with all of this make sure that you have a sturdy, lockable gate and that everyone knows that they need to make sure it is shut properly behind them. A “please close the gate sign” can be useful. You can also attach a self closing device for that added peace of mind and security.
- If you have your dog from a young puppy then try to teach them from the very beginning that your lovely rattan garden furniture is off limits to them. Even if you do decide to rescue an older dog then contrary to popular belief you can teach an old dog new tricks. Give them plenty of chew toys and balls in the garden to discourage them from chewing the legs of your furniture. If they do end up climbing onto the chairs for a cuddle then give the cushions a quick vacuum once a week to get rid of any fur that they kindly leave behind them.
- If you have a green thumb and love to grow your own vegetables then fence this area off so that is not accessible to your dog at any time. This will stop them from digging up the fruits of your hard labour and will also stop them from eating anything that is poisonous to them such as onions and chives. Along with this if you are wanting to add pops of colour to your garden with flowers then think about putting these in raised flower beds. Dogs will love to dig anywhere that there is soil and they will happily do it without a care in the world. By raising the beds you are giving your flowers a fighting chance! Remember when choosing which flowers to grow that certain types are poisonous when ingested by dogs, such as Foxglove and Crocus, so always check that they are dog friendly before planting them. On the same note never use a weed killer or slug repellent anywhere in your garden as this is extremely toxic. Cooper tape can be used as a natural slug repellent and for weeds try spraying them with lemon juice. This will dry them up within a couple of days where they can then be pulled out easily.
- Nearly all dogs love water. Whether it is the sea or a paddling pool. They will always want to play in it. If you have a pond or swimming pool in your garden then invest in a cover for when your dog is outside unsupervised. Not only will it stop them from climbing in, going for a splash and then dragging all the water back into your house but it will also stop any unnecessary drowning accidents, especially if you have a inquisitive puppy in your household.
- Dogs urine is rich in nitrogen which is known to kill grass when concentrated amounts are collected over a period of time. Too much of this will cause brown spots on your lawn (burning) and this will then kill your lovely green grass. Nitrogen is found in lawn fertilisers so when you have a dog using your garden for his business you will probably find that by adding a fertiliser as well is overkill and doing more harm than good so eliminate the fertiliser if you notice any burning of your grass. If there are spots where your dog always likes to use for his bathroom breaks then pour water on this area after he has finished to dilute the amount of nitrogen and help stop your grass from dying. Of course you can always train your dog to use just one area of the lawn for his needs. There are products on the market which have pheromones in them to encourage your dog to pee in the area that they are sprayed. This will make sure the rest of your grass stays healthy and you can just treat that one area with a lawn repair treatment. Always make sure that your dog has plenty of water. Less urine doesn’t mean less stress on your grass, in fact it means the opposite. Allowing them more water, dilutes the amount of nitrogen, therefore saving your green grass!
- If your garden is big enough then why not let your dog have his own safe area. Encourage him to play in this area with lots of toys, treats and praise. Dogs naturally want to please us but if the whole of your garden is taken up with flowers, vegetable patches and lots of soil then the more chance there is of him getting into mischief. You could always fence an entire area off for him if the space allows. This will give you peace of mind to leave him alone outside for short periods without needing constant supervision.