Your dog is happiest when he’s playing in the yard, but unfortunately, the yard is suffering. Patchy grass and dug-up flowerbeds are making your outside space less than attractive, and what’s more, your dog keeps getting out and taking himself for a walk. Read on for some practical tips to create a safe, fun yard for you and your pet.
First things first: before diving into all the fun things you can do, you need to make sure your yard is safe and hygienic. Here’s how:
- Build a fence. To prevent your dog from wandering out onto the street and unwanted (furry) guests from entering your yard, it’s wise to build a fence around your property. A chain-link fence is easy to install, as well as cost-effective, but it might not be the most visually pleasing option. If you have the budget, choose a fence that fits your landscape, such as a wood picket fence or a 6-foot high privacy fence. If you want something sturdy and more permanent, you can even build a stone or brick wall.
- Check your plants carefully. If your yard is already landscaped and your dog spends time in the yard without your supervision, ensure you don’t have any plants, toxic to pets. The ASPCA provides a printable list, so take some time to check it against the plants and shrubs in your yard.
- Place baits and traps out of reach. Baits used for pest control can be dangerous for your dog. Make sure they’re well out of reach and your pet can’t get to them.
- Create a dog potty. Designate an area for a dog potty. Cover it with mulch (not cocoa mulch, since that’s toxic for dogs) or gravel, and add a vertical object (like a fire hydrant) for him to mark.
The Fun Stuff
With your dog’s safety taken care of, you can turn your attention to things that will make your yard both fun and visually pleasing.
- Choose your lawn. Dog owners often give up on having a nice lawn, but they don’t have to! First of all, with your dog using a potty area, you’re less likely to have yellow patches on the lawn. Second, there are types of grass that are more durable than others, such as Kentucky Blue Grass and Tall Fescue Grass. If you want to make the investment, you can also use artificial turf—it’s evergreen and best of all: you don’t have to mow it!
- Install a digging pit. Your dog loves to dig. Sometimes he’s chasing down a chipmunk, other times he’s burying a juicy bone. Whatever the reason, he’ll be less prone to digging up your flowerbeds or lawn if you provide a special area for him to dig. An area of three by six feet should be enough. Remove any plants, and mix the loose soil with some sand to let it drain effectively.
- Plant shady shrubs and trees along walking paths. Tall, leafy shrubs and small trees are durable, pleasing to look at and provide shade. Plant them along winding paths so your dog can enjoy prowling around on his property.
- Add a water feature or pond. Dogs love to play with water- especially when it’s warm outside. A constantly running stream to play with or a full-sized pond for wading and swimming adds both ambiance and fun to your yard.
- Provide a playing area. If your dog is athletic and you love to train him, place some agility training equipment in your yard. A ramp, teeter-totter, tunnel and some hoops can be a fun way to tire you and your dog out!
These are just a few suggestions on how to make your yard dog friendly. For more ideas you can easily do yourself, check out Pinterest and Houzz. And remember: though it might require some time and effort, with a yard both you and your dog enjoy, you can have fun together for years to come!