Dogs are amazing companions but have their own challenges, and it can be worth dog-proofing your garden, whether you’d like to keep them in or out. 50% of dog thefts happen from unsecured gardens, and dogs can just run away if they spot something exciting. On the other hand, we have a pair of gorgeous staffies next door, who until we replaced the fence, would wriggle under once a week. Not a problem for us, but a family with young children (or their own dogs) could have run into real problems.
1. Clever Planting
Box hedges and strong herbaceous shrubs can help protect fencing and boundaries without hurting the dog. Be careful, though, there are number of plants which are poisonous to dogs, including some you wouldn’t suspect. It’s worth checking a garden when you move in to ensure these nasties aren’t colonising your outdoor space.
Owning a dog means accepting the nature of dogs; that puppies will dig and that grown dogs can get excited. Expecting delicate flowers with shallow roots to survive a couple of pups is setting yourself up for disappointment.
2. Secure Garden Fencing
This is one of the most important factors. The right fence will keep Fido in your garden and your neighbours happy. It’s best to avoid slats and chain link - young children are notorious on pet forums for poking their fingers through; irritating the dogs and sometimes getting bitten. .
Invisible fencing is also not a great idea. It won’t keep other dangers (children, adults, bigger dogs) out, and can make pets fearful. There are also issues where less socialised dogs will tolerate the electric shock in order to chase that cat or go after the exciting bicycle zipping past. Ideally you want high, smooth, strong garden fencing that is difficult to dig under. This will minimise jumping and climbing, and will do double duty as a security and privacy fence.
3. Cut Back on Toxins
This means pesticides and many treatments used on wooden fences. Experts suggest keeping your dog out of the garden for a minimum of 24 hours after using any of these products. They also suggest it’s better not to use them at all; especially as the effects can linger in groundwater and remaining plants, which the dog might eat.
Switch out a wooden fence for a metal one which requires less maintenance, and consider alternatives to normal weed killers. These can include pulling up weeds by hand, or using plain boiling water.
4. Strong Gates
There’s little point in dog proofing your garden with clever planting or strong fencing if you don’t have strong external garden gates. It’s best to choose an outdoor gate in the same colour, material and strength as your fencing. Ensure you have high quality locks, fixtures and hinges, and consider double gates. Taller is better, as many dogs can leap to incredible heights.
Some pet owners will also have two gates, one in front of the other, for a kind of ‘airlock protocol’. This helps prevent your pup from running into the road if they manage to escape.
5. Train Your Dog
This may seem impossible, but as pack animals, dogs respond well to training. If you spend time with your pet in the garden, you can teach them using the usual reward / punishment techniques. Realistic goals include getting Fido to stay in one place while you garden, or training him not to dig up your prize petunias. A kennel could be a useful and cosy addition for your pooch, and he’ll likely feel more comfortable staying put in a place of his own.
Recommended behavioural modifiers include ensuring your dog has plenty of exercise, playing with him regularly, and making sure he is well fed and watered. Remember, dogs are omnivorous, and no amount of training will keep a hungry pup away from your alpine strawberries.
We hope these tips for dog proofing your garden have been helpful - what are your ways to keep your pooch occupied?