How to create a dog friendly garden

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…


  1. Make it escape-proof

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 tunnel under the boundary and check regularly for escape tunnels.


  1. 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.

Click here for a list of 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. 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 raise beds can also help to protect plants and therefore reduce stress for you and your dog.


  1. 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.


  1. Making sure there’s shade and shelter

Rosie, our lovely Newfie had a favourite spot in the garden and it was the coolest space, tucked into a little corner of the wall. We planted wisteria over this area so it was always a lovely cool space for her. If you don’t have any naturally shady spaces, consider planting a shrub or putting up a screen or trellis to create a sheltered and shady space for hot days.


  1. Making sure there’s a quiet space

It’s not always possible to reduce things such as traffic noise, but you can create spaces 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.


  1. Go organic

Avoid using chemical pesticides or fertlizers, 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 pestsn. Creating hedgehog friendly routes in and out of your garden and putting a pile of leaves or grass where they can shelter nearby 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 these pests.


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