5 Simple Tips for a Dog-Friendly Backyard
Summer is the perfect season to let your dog enjoy what nature has to offer. If you have a backyard or garden at home then consider the following tips to turn it into a space that your dog can truly appreciate. Dogs are naturally curious animals so you will want to do what you can to make the backyard space a fun and interesting spot for them.
Create Sheltered Spots
Before we introduce some of the more fun elements, make sure the backyard is adequately covered with sheltered spots. A dog-friendly backyard should have a few areas where the dogs can keep themselves out from the sun. With all the fur that they have, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that dogs will find ways to cool themselves from the summer heat. As we’ll explain later in the article, one way they will do this is by digging holes in the ground. This obviously is not ideal if you are growing plants in the backyard. If you want to reduce such behaviors then consider creating sheltered spots by either planting trees for the dogs to rest under, placing a patio umbrella at the corner of the backyard, or by getting an insulated dog house.
Natural Pest Predators
Summer is typically the time when pest season starts to peak. There are a number of parasites that may irritate your poor dog. The most common dog parasites are ticks, flies, mosquitoes, and fleas. While you would never be able to truly create a pest-free zone in the backyard, there are certain steps that may mitigate the problem. One natural solution is to attract natural predators or beneficial insects that can co-exist with your dog. For example, natural predators of fleas may include spiders, beneficial nematodes, ladybugs, frogs, and certain species of birds. The key to success is to attract species that are native to your region and are species that primarily feed on the pests.
In addition to attracting natural predators, you may want to also grow pest-repelling plants in the backyard. Over time, many plants have evolved and built up their own resistance mechanism to pests. Some plants produce chemicals that are considered natural insecticides while others secrete a scent that pests absolutely hate. A few examples of pest-repelling plants include lavender, basil, citronella grass, spearmint, and oregano.
You’ll notice that some of these plants are cooking herbs so you can also use them for your kitchen endeavors if you grow these plants organically. Before you determine which of these plants to grow in the backyard, make sure they are non-toxic to dogs. For example, chrysanthemum is considered a pest-repelling plant but it produces a natural chemical called pyrethrins that may be harmful to dogs. Exposure to large concentrations of pyrethrins could spark symptoms like diarrhea, incoordination, and vomiting. The ASPCA provides a helpful list of plants that are considered toxic to pets so be sure to view this list as you decide which plants to grow.
There are several reasons why dogs of all breed like to dig. Some dogs may do it for the purpose of entertainment while other dogs may do it to hide the possessions they prize the most. As we mentioned earlier, some dogs may also like to dig to create a cooler resting spot. Whatever the reason, you will not want to completely discourage your dogs from digging in the backyard, especially because it is considered a natural behavior. This means you should think of areas where your dog can dig without any repercussions.
One suggestion is to get your dog a sandbox and place it in an area of the backyard that’s well-sheltered from the sun. If all goes to plan then your dog will be fascinated by the sandbox and not dig elsewhere. Unfortunately, this won’t be the case for many of us so you will need to get some training involved to make sure your dog is only digging in the sandbox. One simple training method is to place your dog’s favorite treats in the sandbox and reinforce a command that will help your dog understand that digging is not allowed outside of it.
Solid Fences & Security
As much as they may love the backyard space, a dog’s curiosity may lead them to wander off beyond the perimeter of the backyard. This is a good time to check the existing fences and make sure they don’t provide an easy escape route for your dogs. For starters, make sure the fences are at least a few feet deep. This is to prevent your dog from digging underneath. Some breeds of dogs can jump really high so you will want to make sure the height of the fence is adequate.
If you live in a HOA neighborhood then there may be certain fence regulations that you need to comply with. Be sure to check them before you make any modifications to the fence. If a physical fence is not a viable solution then you may want to also consider getting a wireless dog fence. These invisible fences are very effective and are also easy to implement.
Author: Sally Cameron
Sally Cameron is a big garden enthusiast with a love for dogs. She likes to write about topics related to gardening, conservation, and going green.