This year at Hampton Court Flower Show, the Dogs Trust created a dog-friendly garden to celebrate their 125th year. So we thought we’d share our tips for creating a dog friendly garden.
To help include your dog, consider dividing up your garden into different areas. A varied, versatile garden with different features is ideal.
Throughout the garden, use a variety of textures, such as mounds of grass, chips of bark, wood piles and sturdy shrubs. Paths running around the edges of your garden will help channel your pet's urge to patrol the edge of their territory.
On a practical basis, ensure your garden provides an open area for your dog to sun themselves, and shady spots where they can escape the heat. A kennel or doghouse is an excellent addition – it'll keep your pooch dry in the rain and help him feel safe.
Consider an outside feeding station with plenty of water, and even shallow water features that your dog can enjoy at the height of summer.
You can make your life easier by designating a toilet area for your dog, and try to train them to go there and no-where else. For male dogs, add a post to encourage them to mark their territory there.
Dogs and puppies are notorious for digging in unattended gardens. There are a number of ways to minimise or prevent this happening.
You can protect your vegetables and most delicate plants by fencing them off, and reinforcing the message with training. A stand of tough plants such as bamboo, roses or thyme, can be used as an organic ‘fence' that will keep your dog at bay. Container gardens can also keep larger dogs away from your shrubs and flowers.
Some dogs, particularly terriers and Jack Russells, are bred for digging out burrowing animals. This can make them more difficult to train and deter when it comes to digging up your garden. For these dogs, a great solution is to create a specific digging area, such as a loose earth space or sandpit specifically for your dog. Consider hiding treats or toys in the sand, so that the dog associates the digging spot with rewards.
Overall though, the best solution is to keep your dog busy, distracted and well exercised.
Sometimes called ‘dog proofing', it's important to design or fix your garden to eliminate the hazards that could hurt your dog.
The first thing to ensure is security. Most dogs are agile enough to jump any fence shorter than six foot. Check your existing fence for any gaps a pup could squeeze through or under. Be honest with yourself about whether you need a new, tougher fencing solution. A secure fence is worth it to protect your dog from injury or theft from your garden.
Avoid ‘invisible' fences. They don't protect your dog from people or from other dogs that could cause him harm. Plus, many dogs are quite happy to endure the shock of the fence to chase an errant rabbit or cat that has caught their eye.
There are a number of plants which are toxic to dogs – the Kennel Club has a good list here. Avoid planting these culprits and root them out if they appear on their own. Keep an eye on your dog if they eat any plants on a walk and seem sick afterwards.
When it comes to pests and parasites, the first thing is to ensure your dog is up to date with their treatments and shots. Mow the garden regularly (put Fido inside first) as fleas and ticks can congregate in long grass. Slugs and snails are dangerous to dogs (as they can be infected with lungworm parasites). However it's still best not to use chemicals on them, and that includes salt, which can be poisonous to dogs!
There are some pet friendly products out there. Alternatively you can use beer traps, barriers such as crushed egg shells, or else pick the slugs off manually with tongs and a bucket of water.
In addition to using non-toxic pest killers, look for pet friendly weed killers, or else try pulling the weeds by hand for a great workout. Make your own chemical free compost, and avoid using cocoa mulch, as it can be as toxic as chocolate.
How do you make sure your garden is dog (or pet) friendly?