Dog Friendly Gardening
Get a dog and say goodbye to the garden. Yellow spots on the lawn…trampled flower beds. This is what many homeowners conclude. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way! In this article we will talk about how plants and pets can co-exist happily and safely.
The first step towards achieving harmony is to think like a dog. What is your dogs personality? Observe your pets behavior and work with it. Dogs don’t see a small shrub, they see a very appealing stick. Dogs can’t appreciate the delicate nature of your flowers. Bigger shrubs and fairly hardy plants are more likely to withstand some doggie attention. Dogs are also more likely to stay out of densely planted areas.
Does your dog like to patrol the perimeter of the yard.? Many dogs perceive this as their job. If so, leave room between the shrubs or flower beds and the fence. 2-3 feet of clearance is likely enough. If scruffy is also a little escape artist, you will need to prevent tunneling under the fence by installing and underground barrier such as chicken wire. Decorative fences and raised beds will keep plants out of harms way. If there is a certain spot that your dogs tends to dig or lie in then don’t place your flower bed in that area.
Your dog will also need a place to relieve himself, but it doesn’t have to be your flowerbeds. Set aside a corner of your yard as the toilet area. You will have to invest some time in training Scruffy to use the designated area. Consult a training manual for instructions.
There are lots of products available which claim to change the dog’s urine so it doesn’t damage lawns. Don’t believe the claims. Many of these products pose health risks for your pooch. The only reliable method for decreasing the nitrogen in the urine is to feed a highly digestible food. The dog digests more of the protein, resulting in lower nitrogen in the urine. These are not the bargain brands of foods. Wetting dry food with water may also slightly decrease the urine nitrogen. Watering the spot on the lawn up to eight hours after urination has also been shown to be effective.
Does your dog like to dig? Some dogs dig to escape the heat or cold. Other dogs dig out of boredom or nervous energy. Dogs enjoy lying in the sun, but remember dogs can overheat very easily, so it is important to provide a cool shady area as well. In the colder months it is important that they have shelter to keep them warm. Be sure to provide plenty of toys for entertainment . Exercise regularly with the dog to eliminate nervous energy.
If your dog is a digger , provide a spot where digging is permitted. To eliminate inappropriate digging place a lawn sprinkler in the place where your dog typically digs. When the dogs begins to dig in that area quickly turn on the sprinkler. It may take a few tries but soon he will associate digging with being sprayed.
It is important to think about the safety of your pets when selecting plants. Avoid thorny or spiney plants which can cause serious eye injuries. Many plants are toxic to dogs and should be avoided in easily accessible areas. Bulb plants such as tulips and lilies can be toxic to dogs and if your dog sees you plant them he may be curious and dig them up. Click here for a list of toxic plants. Never use cocoa shell mulch.
Minimize the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Not only is this safer for your pet it is better for the environment. Use caution even with organic fertilizers as many contain ingredients like bone, fish or blood meal which are very enticing to dogs. Digs these deep into the soil. For safe fertilizers use compost in the flowerbeds and mulch your grass clippings back into the lawn. If making your own compost don’t include meat products or leftovers as these are very appealing to dogs and can make them very ill.
For more information on gardening with your dog we recommend the following book.
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