For many people, a home is simply not complete without a dog. Our four-legged, waggy tailed friends are much-loved members of the family and an important part of our lives.
It seems that here in the UK, we are pretty dog-mad. According to the PDSA, 26% of UK adults own a dog, with a 9.6 million population of pet dogs in the UK. That’s a lot of dogs!
Of course, owning a dog comes with the important responsibility of providing a safe and suitable living environment for your beloved pooch. When preparing for the arrival of a new dog or puppy, or moving to a new house, preparations must be made, and the garden is no exception.
After all, the garden is the place where dogs love to play, sniff and of course, do their business.
It’s an important space in a dog’s home as much as it is for the owners.
When it comes to creating a dog-friendly garden, there is so much you can do to offer your dog an outside haven for adventure, playing and exploring all whilst ensuring that you create a human-friendly space that works around your design preferences, personal tastes and family lifestyle.
Whether you’re just about to become new dog owners or are simply looking for ways to make your garden a more enjoyable and safe space for your fur babies, we’ve got you covered.
Garden security is an absolute must if you own a dog.
And, it’s something that works two ways.
Keeping intruders out is important, but with a dog, you also want to ensure that you provide a secure space, where your dog can freely roam without the fear that they may escape.
If you’re someone whose dog likes to think of themselves as a bit of a Houdini, with a reputation for being found mooching around the neighbours’ gardens or taking themselves off for a walk to the local park, you’ll be all too familiar with how very clever dogs can be when it comes to planning their great escape.
And it’s not because they want to run away or escape from the family.
Dogs are naturally inquisitive creatures, who are often led by their noses and a need to explore.
However, the reality is that when a dog does take themselves for a walkabout, for pet owners it can be really distressing. And, for the dog, it can pose a big risk to their safety.
On a positive note, there are plenty of things that you can do to secure your garden and avoid issues associated with your dog getting out.
First things first, fencing. This is often one of the most common escape routes for dogs.
Gaps in the fence may just seem like eyesores for us that we may not have gotten round to fixing, but for a dog, it’s a tunnel to adventure.
It may sound obvious, but if you have gaps or splits in your fence, you’re going to want to get them fixed.
But, if your entire fence structure is beyond the point of repair, it may be time to think about a new fence installation.
Fence height can also affect how dog-secure your garden is. If you have a bigger dog who can put their paws on the top of the fence, it’s likely that your fence isn’t tall enough.
Digging is normal dog behaviour. But for dog owners, it can be quite inconvenient, particularly when potholes start appearing across your lawn and flower beds become trashed.
Issues arise when dogs dig next to and under fences because the security of the garden becomes compromised.
Wire meshing can be installed at the base of the fence.
Simply dig a trench, attach the mesh to the fence and place the bottom of the wire mesh in the ground. Re-cover the mesh.
This approach can also work if, rather than a fence, your garden boundaries are created by bushes such as conifers.
Alternatively, you could dig a trench under your fence and fill it with concrete. This can be re-covered by soil or grass.
Garden gates left open, gates that do not close securely or gates that have gaps underneath are also another common cause of dog escapology.
This is a really easy and inexpensive fix.
Invest in a garden gate that you can trust
Firstly, if you do have a gap under your garden gate, it may be a simple fix that you just need to re-hang your gate.
However, if your gate is old or chewed, and you’re looking for something a little more secure and substantial, this might be the time to get yourself a new garden gate.
Find something that works to complement your garden design, whilst providing a secure entrance to the outside of your home.
Secondly comes the gate furniture.
Getting the right latches, bolts and hinges that work to ensure that the gate is secured is key. A broken piece of gate furniture could mean that your gate doesn’t close properly, or can easily become agar in the wind or with the pressure of paws.
In the winter months, dogs tend to use the garden more than their owners. And, it’s great that our four-legged friends can enjoy the garden all year round. But with the rain and damp days that the winter months bring, often comes the mud; mud that ends up being walked through the house!
You may be surprised to know that just like us humans, dogs also prefer to follow a path, rather than walking through flower beds. That’s why you may have noticed a worn-down path on your lawn from your dog taking the same route through your garden.
Whilst it’s important to keep some grass areas for your pooch to roam and play, a garden pathway with good drainage will help to keep mud at bay, whilst offering your dog a playful space to sniff and explore.
Pathways made from sleepers are also another popular option, allowing you to create a rustic, textured, natural-looking haven that works to please your design preferences, as well as your dog’s.
A garden should be a dog’s haven for playing and creating memories with the family! From playing fetch and hide and seek to the occasional ‘zoomies’ around the garden, the garden typically takes on a lot of foot, and paw, traffic.
Occasionally, beautifully planted and maintained flower beds and grow-your-own patches fall victim to being trampled on by bouncy paws.
By raising your flower beds, not only can you add more depth and texture to your garden’s design, but you can also spare your planting beds from becoming trampled.
Some owners also suggest that having raised beds helps to stop their pooch from digging up their flowers. So if your dog is a digger, why not give it a go?
Raised beds are super easy and inexpensive to create using sleepers. What’s more, they last for years to come and actually offer superior drainage, compared to ground-level beds.
When it comes to filling your new raised sleeper beds with plants, it’s important to remember that some plant species are toxic to dogs.
Whilst Daffodils are one of the UK’s favourite spring flowers, they are in fact toxic to dogs. These, amongst other flowers and plants dog owners should avoid planting in their garden include Foxgloves, Ivy, Wisteria, Tulips, Rhododendrons, Eucalyptus and Hydrangeas.
Always do your research before planting something new in your dog-friendly garden.
And, don’t forget that some weeds and toadstools are also toxic to dogs. Ensure that you remove and discard any plants or fungus regularly that could be harmful to your pooch.
Whilst there are some plants you should avoid, shrubs and flowers are all important parts of a dog’s outdoor space.
You can create a natural-looking outside design that aesthetically looks stunning and supports local wildlife whilst creating tunnels and sniffer tracks for your pooch to enjoy and mooch around in.
Fushias, Marigolds, Camellia, Sunflowers, Coral Bells and Snapdragons all bring a fantastic splash of colour to your raised beds and are all dog-friendly.
And, if you’re looking to use your raised beds to create an outdoor herb garden, Fennel, Rosemary Creeping Thyme, Purple Basil and Dill can all be grown in your dog-friendly garden.
For plants and bushes that are a little more resilient to being bashed and brushed around by waggy tails, opt for robust plants such as Lavender, which is said to have a calming and soothing effect on dogs, Daylilies, Marigolds and Bamboo.
It’s very tempting to use weed killers to keep your garden looking in tip-top condition. But when you have a dog, these toxic chemicals are a big no-no.
Using a weed membrane under flower beds, paths and decking is a great way to keep weeds at bay, without having to use chemical-based pesticides and herbicides.
If you have a patio area, de-weeding and sweeping sand into the cracks will also help to keep weeds at bay.
You can also make your own dog-friendly weed killer by using vinegar, salt and washing up liquid, before brushing sand between the affected areas.
Just like us humans, dogs love nothing more than chilling out in the garden on a warm, sunny summer’s day, taking in the fresh air, watching the world go by – oh and of course keeping an eye out on the birds!
It’s important to provide your summer-loving pooch with a shaded spot in the garden.
Now, let’s be honest, dogs really aren’t that fussy. They’re happy to take a spot under the picnic bench, under a chair or under a tree. But the important thing to remember is that for most dogs, they want to be near or with their fellow humans.
So when it comes to factoring in your garden design, consider where you and your family will be spending most of your time, and how you can make that a comfortable shaded spot for your dog.
For example, you may be looking to create a decked area to enjoy al fresco dining in the summer months. Think about how and where you position your decking to accommodate the whole family.
Whilst we’re on the subject of the summer months, it’s also worthwhile considering how the ground level materials in your garden will be affected by heat and direct sunlight.
Don’t forget that dark surfaces, such as tarmac or slate slabs can get very hot in the summer, which can burn a dog’s paws. If your dog has to walk over this surface to explore the garden, it can be very dangerous.
Think about what’s underfoot and how to create a dog-friendly surface all year round.
Inevitably, there will be things in our gardens that are deemed unsafe to dogs. But, it’s a pet owners’ responsibility to ensure that these things stay out of reach from our four-legged friends.
Having somewhere to store away garden items, such as tools, BBQ coals, paint, fixtures and fittings and all the other things that you don’t want your pooch to be getting their paws on is not only important for general housekeeping and maintaining a clean and tidy garden, but also for the safety of your dog.
These kinds of items can be harmful to dogs should they consume or stand on them.
Keeping them locked away in a secure shed or garage is one way to ensure that you protect your beloved pup from dangerous garden and household items.