Landscaping 101 – For Pets!

Are you thinking of redoing your yard, or do you have a new pooch on the way?  There are tons of exciting ways to make your yard a haven for your dogs, and there are also some things to look out for. Before you bring a dog home for the first time, proof your yard the way you would before letting toddlers outside to play. Make sure there is nothing the dog will wreck, hurt himself on, or escape easily through. Then it’s time to get creative. Let’s start with the good stuff!

Dogs will get into your gardens.  Consider things like tiny fences around your gardens, or even large pieces of driftwood to discourage and teach dogs to stay out of the gardens.

Dogs often like to dig.  Sometimes things like “dig pits” can help a dog release some of his boredom in a designated spot. That being said, if your dog seems to be getting bored, make sure to take him for tons of interactive walks where he can see new things.

Dogs NEED shade!  Make absolute sure that there is a sufficient area for your dog to cool down in on a hot day, even if he is only outside for awhile. Dog houses, shelters and large trees should all do.

Dogs NEED water too!  This may seem like a no-brainer, but keeping fresh water and even food outside in a dining area for your dog is too important not to be stressed. On a hot summer day, having a doggy wading pool outside or just multiple buckets of water are a great bonus, too. Imagine wearing a fur coat outside on a July afternoon!

Dogs love to explore.  If you’re interested in further landscaping, a run track can be a great encouragement for your dog’s exercise. Look-out holes, perches as resting areas, and doggy doors are additional ideas. Consider placing a “marking post” somewhere, your dog will appreciate being able to mark his territory. Leaving toys for your dog to entertain himself is fine, as long as he cannot hurt himself on them if left alone for a period of time.

The ground gets hot for pup’s paws!  Think about your materials ability to withstand the sun’s heat if you are landscaping, things that heat up tremendously will surely hurt the tender pads on the bottom of a dogs feet on a hot day. Materials such as mulch (not cocoa), pebbles, smooth rock, concrete, brick, and small bark chips are all good options. Of course, grass is one of the best.  If you are leaning towards artificial turf, check into how hot in can get first. Things like mulch and bark chips will need to be replaced periodically.

Let’s move on to a few things to be aware of.

Plants, plants, plants!  Part of the beauty of this earth, they are not always friendly to dogs (or cats).  Carefully look into each plant you are considering, because there is a high chance your dog will taste-test it.  Some plants to look out for if you have any pets are,

Lilies (especially for cats), Marijuana, Sago Palm, Tulip, Azalea, Oleander, Castor Bean, Cyclamen, Cilantro, Yew, Amaryllis, Autumn Crocus, English Ivy, Schefflera, and Pothos, and more. Consult ASPCA’s list for a more comprehensive list. If you have any of these, plant them outside the fence where your dog cannot get at them, and of course, keep your cat indoors.

Traps.  Make sure your pet can’t get to any traps or poison either, and remember that a dog may try to get at something relentlessly even if you try to hide it.

Poison. Use a safe, natural pest-deterrent that is chemical free. Your dog will roll around on the grass, and even the neighbours yard may drift over chemicals. Give your dog frequent baths, brushings and inspections to be sure.

Water Landscaping?  If you have things like fountains or streams in your yard, make sure that they can be used to the dogs advantage, and that there is no way for him to slip or fall.

Hopefully this information has inspired a few people, or raised awareness in some.  Either way, don’t forget to take your dogs happiness into account when landscaping this spring. A dogs livelihood is outside in the sunshine, and with careful thought, you can enjoy your yard together!

By Julie Kraus

Dog lookout holeA nifty DIY fence window for your dog!