Those of us fortunate enough to have gardens will have been spending a lot of time in them this year. But is your garden really dog friendly? Here are a few tips from Dog Friendly Cornwall to help you make sure that your dog is as safe and happy in your garden as you are…
A strong fence or sturdy hedge around the border is essential in a dog friendly garden as many dogs would put Houdini to shame when it comes to escapology. For most breeds a six-foot fence should be sufficient, but you can also get trellis toppers for the truly athletic and dedicated escapees! Also make sure it’s not easy for your dog to dig their way out under the boundary and check regularly for escape tunnels.
2. Choose the right plants
It’s important to avoid plants that can harm your dog, such as hawthorn or toxic plants.
Common plants which are poisonous to dogs include ivy, gladioli, daffodils, tulips, rhododendron, chrysanthemum and begonia. The Dog’s Trust also have a helpful fact sheet which lists plants which are toxic to dogs.
Your garden will also be more dog friendly if your plants are not too fragile and therefore easily damaged by your dog. Consider large, established perennials and strong plants such as catmint, astibes and hardy geranium. Plant robust shrubs such as viburnum or lavender at the front of a border. Failing that, low growing box hedge or raised beds can also help to protect plants and therefore reduce stress for you and your dog.
3. Plan areas for play and fun
It’s wonderful to have open areas such as a lawn where you can play fetch, or where your dog can enjoy running and rolling. Other ways to make your garden more stimulating and enjoyable for your dog are to create different routes through the garden and to add in different surface textures such as bark or grass. Avoid small stones and gravel if you can as these can get into your dogs paws and make them sore.
4. Make sure there’s shade and shelter
Rosie, our lovely, very furry Newfie had a favourite spot in the garden which she loved possibly because it was the coolest space, tucked into a little corner beside the wall. We trained wisteria over this area so it was always a lovely shady spot for her at any time of day. If you don’t have any naturally shaded areas in your garden, consider planting a shrub or putting up a screen or trellis to create shade for hot days.
5. Create a quiet space
It’s not always possible to reduce things such as traffic noise, but you can create zones for your dog to retreat to where they won’t be bothered by people coming and going, especially if you have little ones running around in the garden. Just as dogs love to have a ‘time out’ space in the house, where they can go when they want some alone time, it’s a good idea to create a safe, quiet space for them in the garden.
6. Go organic
Avoid using chemical pesticides or fertlisers, or additives to water features as these can harm your dog. Crushed eggshells can help to keep slugs and snails away from plants and encouraging birds with bird feeders means that they can help to control garden pests. Creating hedgehog friendly routes in and out of your garden and putting a pile of leaves or grass where they can shelter near to the entry points will encourage these lovely creatures which eat slugs and snails — keeping pests under control and helping you to keep your dog safe from lungworm, which dogs can contract if they eat slugs and snails.