April 2, 2014

You love your dog, but you also like having a nice lawn. All pet owners know the potential difficulty of creating a balance between a well-landscaped outdoor area and a space that dogs enjoy being in. Fortunately, there are many techniques you can use to spruce up your lawn while allowing your dog the “free reign” he craves when he’s outside.

Golden Retriever Dog with a Happy Face

Establish “Dog Spaces”
Your dog is naturally going to want to dig, mark his territory and spend a lot of time scoping out the lawn. To keep these things from ruining your landscaping, provide specific areas for him to carry out these activities. A “digging box” or patch of soft earth with interesting toys and bones buried in it helps him satisfy his curiosity while installing paths where your dog most likes to roam eliminates wear and tear on the turf. Laying out a patch of gravel and teaching your dog to use it as a “potty” keeps the grass safe from dog spots. Create a clear delineation between these areas and your decorative landscaping by sectioning off shrubs, flowers and other plants with rock borders or small fences.

Avoid Hazardous Plants
Some common landscaping and garden plants are toxic to dogs, including:
• Foxglove
• Iris
• Lily-of-the-valley
• Laurel
• Rhododendron
• Wisteria

The ASPCA provides a comprehensive list of these and other plants that you should avoid in your landscaping to keep your dog healthy.

Make a Shelter
A doghouse is the most obvious spot for Fido to relax outdoors, but a large shade tree will do the trick as well. Whatever you choose, be sure that it provides enough protection from the elements and is easily accessible at all times.

Provide Water
Water dishes are impractical when your dog is outside because they can get overheated or knocked over quite easily. Instead, consider incorporating a small pond or running fountain as part of your landscaping so your pooch always has a place to get a refreshing drink.

Make it Playful
When it comes to playing outside, dogs aren’t too different from kids. They like having space to run and toys to entertain themselves with. Leave open areas in your landscaping where your dog can be free to run and explore and be sure to provide a few outdoor-friendly playthings as well.

Incorporate Fencing
Fences are essential to the safety of your dog when he’s outside. Most dogs will take the opportunity to roam if given the chance, so consider installing a fence around the perimeter of your yard that’s tall enough so he can’t jump it. If you have a pool, you will also need to place a similar fence around that to keep your dog from accidentally falling in.

Once you’ve set up “pet friendly” and “no pet” zones in your yard, it will take a little time to train your dog to understand the difference between them. Be patient, give praise when your pup does well and you’ll be able to enjoy a lawn that’s both beautiful and dog-friendly.