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09 Jul How to create the perfect dog-friendly garden

Having a dog shouldn’t mean that you can’t also grow a healthy, thriving garden. Our four-legged friends spend plenty of time in their gardens, exploring, sniffing, and digging – so why not design your garden that is a fun and relaxing place for you both to spend time? 

Here are our top tips for creating dog-friendly gardens.

Dog friendly plants

Border Collie in garden with flowers

There are plenty of common plants that you might have planted in your garden that are toxic to dogs. When creating your garden, consider swapping these plants for dog friendly alternatives. If there are plants that are poisonous to dogs in your garden, you’ll take steps to prevent your dog from chewing or eating them, such as a solid barrier or close supervision.

Common poisonous plants and trees include:

  • Chrysanthemums
  • Daffodil bulbs
  • Larkspur
  • Foxgloves
  • Hydrangea
  • Acorns
  • Tomato plants
  • Wisteria
  • Yew
  • Bluebells
  • Ivy
  • Rhododendron
  • Sweet pea
  • Tulip bulbs
  • Rhubarb leaves

You can view a comprehensive list of toxic house and garden plants from the Dog’s Trust. 

Common dog friendly plants include:

  • Rosemary
  • Dill
  • Lavender
  • Fennel
  • Calendula
  • Snapdragons
  • Sunflowers
  • Cornflower
  • Michaelmas daisies
  • Roses
  • Honeysuckle

Don’t forget, you’ll need to be especially aware of the plants in your garden if your dog has allergies or skin conditions – contact your vet for advice.

Make sure your garden is secure

Border Collie peeking over a brick wall

Dog’s will always manage to find that hole in the fence they can squeeze through to go on adventures by themselves. To avoid them getting out and causing chaos in your local area, you need to make sure that your garden is secure. 

Fences and walls are obviously ideal, provided your dog can’t squeeze under or through them. Thick, mature hedges can also work well providing the foliage is dense enough to prevent your pooch attempting an escape. whatever you use, make sure it’s high enough that they can’t jump over the top!

Check the perimeter of your garden regularly and make sure you fill in any holes that your pooch might be digging under your fences or hedges (no Great Escape style schemes here!)

Avoid using chemicals

Chemicals found in garden products such as lawn care products, water additives, pesticides and insecticides can all be potentially harmful to your dog. For peace of mind it’s best to avoid chemicals all together – often there are plenty of ways to achieve your desired results using organic, non-harmful methods. 

If you do decide to use garden products with chemicals, only use those labelled as being safe for pets.

Create zones for your dog

Introducing zones into your garden is easy to do and a great way to stop your dog trampling your plants or using the lawn as their great big green toilet.

You can create physical barriers between your flowerbeds and the lawn by using raised beds or hardy shrubs (like Lavender) to create natural, attractive barriers.

Consider creating a clear zone for your dog to go to the toilet – such as a patch of grass or astroturf at the back of the garden that has a clear barrier. You’ll need to train your dog to use this space for their toilet – just lead them straight there in the morning and evening and whenever they ask to go out and be consistent with rewarding them when they do use the space. Over time they will learn to use only that space, saving the rest of your garden and lawn and meaning you only need to tidy their mess from one spot.

Finally, if your dog particularly loves to dig (like a lot of terrier breeds) it’s worth creating a digging spot for them. Simply choose an area, dig a trench, and fill it in with sand. Train them to use the space by burying their favourite toys and encouraging them to dig in that space. Over time, when they get the urge to dig, they’ll know to head to their new favourite spot.

Design your garden with your dog in mind

Border Collie looking in a pond

Chances are that your dog spends more time in your garden then you do. They love to spend time in the garden playing with you, sniffing around, exploring and more. When you design your garden, think about ways to make it an even more exciting place for them.

  • Add pathways throughout the garden for you dog to follow – this is great for preventing them trampling across flowerbeds. 
  • Keep a large clear space in the garden (like your lawn) where you can throw toys and play games with your pooch.
  • Choose a variety of dog friendly plants that have interesting smells and movements to keep your dog entertained.
  • Ensure there are shady and sheltered spots for your dog to relax in and sources of fresh water for them to drink from (as opposed to your pond or water feature!)

Deal with slugs and snails

If your dog decides to munch on a snail or a slug, it puts them at risk of lungworm. Most dogs won’t try and eat a slug or snail under normal circumstances, but if they tend to snack on non-edibles, it is worth doing your bit to remove slugs and snails from your garden. Never use non-organic slug pellets in your garden, as these can be poisonous if your dog ingests them or the slugs that have eaten them.

Options for ridding your garden from slugs and snails without using pellets include using salt barriers, copper barriers and beer traps, amongst others.

With a beautiful garden that is safe and fun for you and your dog, you’ll find yourself spending more time outside enjoying it – in all weathers! If you want to know just how much pottering around the garden your pup is squeezing in, you can find out with a PitPat dog activity monitor. You can also measure their play, running, walking, and resting!

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