10/08/2019 by Melissa Erickson - More Content Now 0 Comments
How to create a dog-friendly yard
A dog-friendly yard is one that pets can romp around in safely without harming the landscape or themselves. It's a yard both pets and people can enjoy together.
"Letting dogs have fun outside is great for their quality of life," said Dr. Gary Richter, a veterinarian and a member of Rover.com's Dog People Panel. "If people want their pets to have free access to their yard, it is important for them to make sure there are not preventable hazards/dangers their dog can be exposed to."
Because they are naturally inquisitive, dogs can wreak havoc on a backyard, said Randy Schultz, content editor for HomeGardenandHomestead.com.
"Some breeds are genetically programmed to dig in the dirt and in flower beds and vegetable gardens. Many dogs, especially puppies and younger dogs, love to bite and eat landscape plants," he said.
"When planning landscaping, owners should remember that many common landscaping plants – oleander and foxglove, for example – can be toxic to pets," Richter said. "In addition, fertilizers and pesticides may also be dangerous should pets come in contact with them. If pets are in the yard, even temporarily, people should use plants and products that are pet-safe."
"I always recommend creating specific dog-friendly areas in the yard where the family pets can enjoy themselves," Schultz said. "The plants in these areas need to be safe for dogs, so even if they take a nibble, they won't be harming themselves."
Water and shade
For hydration, make sure your dog has easy, constant access to clean water, especially in hot conditions.
"You can also try ice cubes or frozen treats to encourage them to stay hydrated," Richter said.
While a large water bowl in a cool, shady spot will work, up your game by incorporating a water feature that doubles as a drinking station for your dogs. Many self-contained fountains can be both visually beautiful and convenient for dogs.
"My favorites are fountains where water falls downward from one basin to the next. The lowest basin is perfect for dogs to lap up the water," Schultz said. "Just make sure to create an easy access point so dogs can walk up to the basin without having to navigate around landscape plants or decorative rocks."
Because dogs can walk, run or play themselves into heat exhaustion on a warm day, shade is a necessity, Richter said. That could be a shade tree, large patio umbrella or decorative shade cloth, also known as a shade sail, Schultz said.
"If your dog is panting make sure to take breaks, keep them hydrated and offer them a cool place to rest," Richter said. "Also, remember hot asphalt can cause pad burns" to paws.
Choosing a fence
Fencing, either traditional or electronic, is a smart way to keep dogs out of areas in the yard where they are most likely to dig and cause damage to plants.
"A trusty chain-link fence is a proven way to keep dogs out of the garden, but the trend is to choose a fence that fits with the look of the house," Schultz said.
"When looking for a gate, choose one of a height that your dog can't climb over," said Nicole Ellis, a certified pet trainer also on Rover's Dog People Panel. "Next, take into consideration the kind of dog you have that will be spending time in the yard."
Some dogs are able to climb chain-link fences no matter the height, Ellis said. Metal fences may be great for larger dogs, while a small dog may easily be able to squeeze through. A wood fence may be appealing but not an appropriate choice if a pup is a digger or chewer.
Supervision still needed
Even if a yard is fenced, pet owners should not allow their pets to go unsupervised, the experts said.
"People assume that a fenced-in yard means they don't need to spend time or attention playing with or exercising their dog," said veterinarian Dr. Krista Magnifico, owner of Jarrettsville Veterinary Center in Maryland and founder and chief creative officer of Pawbly.com, a social network for pet people.
Shelter and shade are important, but it's more important to treat your dog like you would a toddler. Don't leave him unattended. Dogs need parental oversight and attention, said Magnifico.
Pets in fenced yards are acceptable only under two conditions, Magnifico said: If the fenced area is so big it doesn't seem limiting to your pet, or if you and the pet are together in a fenced yard engaged in an activity.
Also, while it was once fairly common to have an unlandscaped "dog run" on the side of the house, often on a concrete pad, Schultz urges owners to avoid this "prison yard" environment.
"Whatever you do, please do not sentence your dog to a barren, boring and unhealthy part of your yard," he said. "Make your dog-safe section of the yard inviting enough for you to want to hang out there, too."