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Dog-Friendly Garden Ideas for your Furry Companions

Pets enjoy the great outdoors as much as humans do—gardens are no exception. Although some have been known to tear up the yard, others are cunningly doing us a favour.

Dogs make a great and effective deterrent against intruders, such as deer or burglars. Allowing them to roam free and explore their surroundings is what you can do in return.

So when designing your landscape, think of a stylish space as well as one that works with the dog in mind. In short, hit two birds with one stone by protecting your garden while keeping your pooch happy. Below are some amazing dog-friendly garden ideas to get you inspired and started.

1. Provide them with a dedicated path

Dogs prefer a clear and solid path to follow. Gravel is certainly their worst nightmare and cats aren’t a fan of it either, so opt for pavers or concrete.

A safe surface to walk and run can also mean a good source of exercise for them.

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2. Make sure there’s enough shade

Summer is the prime time for home pets to train and enjoy the warm weather. But the season can be too hot for others, especially those with thick or black fur or when the weather gets that little bit too hot.

Give them a few spots of shade so they can relax and enjoy the summer solstice. This also helps prevent them from burrowing into (and ruining) any bushes.

3. Grow dog-friendly plants

It’s not a common issue, but there are dogs that are vulnerable to certain plants. It’s worthwhile doing a check on your current plant life, seeing what could be harmful.

Some plants that pose no threat include snapdragons, asters, roses, sunflowers, and calendula.

4. Skip pesticides, use natural alternatives

While pesticides aren’t usually deadly, they can be troublesome. Going natural is a better solution for your plants alone, and it also won’t have any harmful effects on your dogs.

Take a look here for some great tips on natural and homemade options.

5. Keep the lawn healthy

Your four-legged friends need a space to run, somewhere they can be free and chase after others. A healthy lawn is a great spot for them to do so. Mow the grass higher, fertilise less, and keep toxic plants out of their way. Their paws grip naturally and easily on grass, helping them to develop strong and healthy muscles.

6. Build a potty area

To protect your plants, set up an area where pets can do their ‘business’. Try training your dog outside, so that they have a regular spot to go – and make that their own area.

Use pea gravel; the smooth, round pebbles are comfortable for dogs to walk on.

7. Be careful of your mulch

Mulch is a hugely beneficial product for your garden, but some elements can be harmful. Coffee beans have as much of an adverse effect on dogs as chocolate does, so consider the recipe you put down and if it’s harmful to your furry friends.

Alternatively, use pine bark mulch. It bears a natural red-brown shade that works well with most gardens and won’t harm your dog.

8. Consider garden protection

If you live in a city or close to a busy road, it can be worrying to let your fur friends out. Giving your garden some protection with fencing is your best solution. This also gives them a good perimeter that they will learn not to go beyond.

A backyard gate is also a great start, offering a more secure and closed barrier.

9. Plant herbs for them to sniff

Grow a herb garden with different varieties, and in heights and positions, for your dog to find and sniff. Start with basil, chamomile, oregano, dill, and mint. 

You may also include these leafy greens in your dog’s treats or meals.

10. Spoil the pooch with a good ramp

Build features at varying elevations for your dog to climb on. They enjoy exploring objects at various levels, so this will add to their enjoyment – and provide good training, too!

Other than ramps, consider railway sleepers, steps or small benches.

11. Adopt a sensory environment

A sensory garden can help encourage your dog to be more confident in their surroundings. It provides an exciting area for them to forage, exercise, and explore using their senses.

Create a mix of textures for extra sensory stimulation. Hide their toys and treats in non-toxic sand or lawn for your furry friend to find.

12. Create a cooling spot

Shallow water features, such as a paddling pool, are a fun cooling-off spot for summer days. It’s also a great way to let your dog develop their love of water.

Make sure you’re there to supervise and drain the pool when not in use.

13. Introduce a dedicated digging pit

Digging is normal dog behaviour and they do it for all kinds of reasons. Stopping them might cause frustration or anger. Lucky for you, you can help your dog dig without ruining your garden.

Create a digging pit made of leftover decking lumber, a litter tray or a sturdy plastic box. Then fill the container with dog-friendly sand and dirt and let them dig to their hearts’ content!

14. Keep the bird feeder out of reach

Ensure the bird feeders in your garden are suspended high up and are inaccessible to dogs or even cats. Any bird seed that lands on the ground can also be an easy target for them.

Also, consider fencing off the area where the feeders are to protect the wildlife.

15. Remove safety hazards

It might not occur to you that those sticks your dog loves to chase and chew can also pose a threat. And don’t forget about sharp objects, such as garden tools, that you might leave lying around.

Keep sharp and other dangerous tools locked up in a shed. Don’t leave your dog attended if they’re young or there are dangerous items lying around.

16. Make the garden flea-repelling

There are plenty of ways to prevent fleas in your yard, and flea-repelling plants are one of them. Go for catnip, marigolds, rosemary and sage. These will overwhelm fleas’ senses and steer them away from your lawn.

Grow them in your garden, and your pooch can play to their heart’s content without being attacked.

17. DIY agility course

If your fur friend is a big fan of the agility course, think how happy they would be to have one in their own yard! Incorporate tunnels, balance beams, jumps and other fun elements into your landscape.

This will keep your pet active, entertained, and away from the garden.

18. Dog window alternative

The idea of a dog window is to let your dog see what’s beyond the backyard while being safe inside the fence. To do this, create a small section of clear plastic or actual glass window along the fence.

19. Consider ground cover plants over turf

Ground cover plants grow low to the ground and spread out horizontally. They have a similar appearance to a lawn but are low-maintenance and difficult to damage.

Non-toxic ground covers include Irish moss, Creeping thyme, Silver carpet, and Labrador violet. They can let you create a dog-proof garden.

20. Build a mini dog park

Consider bringing the park to your pup by building a dog park in your own garden. It should be fun, safe and comfortable.

A few amenities you might want to include are: a dog house, an outdoor bed, some fun equipment and water dishes to keep them hydrated. Also, ensure there’s a path for them to walk, a cleanup station, a playground, and a sandbox.

21. Choose soft flooring for hardscape

If your backyard is lawn-free, decking makes a suitable alternative. A deck is soft enough for a dog to comfortably lounge on. Choose from a variety of wood and decking materials, including recycled deck boards.

22. Don’t forget your front yard

Your front yard can also benefit from dog-friendly additions. This is especially true if you and your pup go in and out of the house often.

A front garden tap, for one, lets you hose down the hound after a muddy walk – or your dog can quench their thirst from it! Small additions like this can help them stay happy and healthy.

23. Opt for artificial lawn

Dogs can pee and poop on artificial grass just like they would on natural ones. The good news is that you won’t have to clean urine as it drains away in the same way as rainwater.

Invest in one that’s treated with UV-resistant materials to stop the artificial grass from fading.

24. Alpine strawberries in pot as treats

Alpine strawberries are non-toxic to dogs and can be given to most in moderation. They do well in containers with rich and well-drained soil.

This red fruit is also packed with many essential nutrients. It helps your pooch increase their intake of health-promoting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

25. Use more raised bed planters

For herbs and vegetables, plant them higher up in containers or pots. This is an effective way to protect them from dog attacks and introduce colour into your garden. They’ll love to sniff around the planters – just don’t let them start tasting the leaves!

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A garden is a healing place for humans, and the same goes for dogs and other animals. Giving them the freedom to express themselves outdoors is rewarding for them.

Make your green space a pooch-pleasing one with safe plants and fun activities for them to do. Then you and your faithful friend can enjoy your outdoor space together year-round.