Ideas For A Dog Friendly Garden

A garden is a great place to enjoy spending time with your dog. When you love dogs and gardening, you need to prepare for success. Getting a dog or puppy requires preparation in your home so that it’s dog-friendly. This includes not just preparing the inside of your home but also the outside of your home.

Prepare your dog

To make life easier for your dog and you, start with dog training. General obedience courses can teach your dog a few simple commands like stop, heel, and sit. A puppy can learn basic commands as early as 6 weeks. Older dogs can still learn new tricks. If you can teach your dog that certain parts of the garden like the flower beds are off limit, life will be much easier. Be consistent and teach them where they can run and play. Now let’s consider garden improvements to make your backyard dog friendly.

Secure your fence

It’s important to keep your dog safe and to prevent your dog escaping from your garden. A good sturdy barrier like a tall wooden fence that goes down to the ground without gaps is needed. If your fencing is damaged or contains large gaps, you need to add extra planks at the bottom or top. You may want to consider replacing it. A 3 foot-high picket fence may look good but is useless to protect most dogs. Consider panel fencing or tall pickets with very small gaps. It’s worth hiring fence installation specialists to make sure that your fence is securely installed.

Remove hazards

Make sure that there is nothing in your garden that could pose a hazard to your dog. For example, certain chemicals and tools may need to be locked away in a shed.  Do not use any chemical plant or weed killers as these can poison your dog if ingested. Things like outdoor cables may also need to be moved. Bear in mind that certain plants can be extremely toxic to dogs if they eat them. If you’ve got a curious dog (particularly a puppy), you may want to relocate or remove these plants so that your dog doesn’t accidentally consume them. Please refer to The ASPCA’s directory of toxic plants before bringing a plant home including houseplants. For tomato lovers, place a barrier around the plants to protect both the dog and the plant. A reader suggested an addition of avoiding prickly seeding plants. If the plant self-seeds, you can keep removing them for years. The prickly seeds or burrs get caught in your dog’s hair and can be rather painful when attached to hair and skin.

Hydrangea is toxic to dogs!

Create a vantage point

Dogs like to be able to survey their territory to check that it is safe and that there are no intruders. Having a vantage point in your garden that dogs can use could help them to feel more secure. This could be the back porch or a raised deck. This vantage point should be placed near the backdoor of your home.

Provide some shade

On a hot day, you can encourage your dog to still use your garden by providing a shady spot. A tree may be enough to provide shade in your garden. Alternatively, the back porch, patio, or a pergola could provide the perfect spot for the dog to rest. Shade could be particularly important in a stone or artificial grass garden – these surfaces can get very hot when exposed to full sun and may be uncomfortable for your dog to tread on. 

Protect the compost bin

For your curious doggie, the compost bin is a treasure trove of interesting scents. If your dog follows their nose into the compost and starts rooting around, you could have a number of problems on your hands. First your dog will be a smelly mess, and he could spread waste material over the garden. Second the compost pile may contain foods that could be harmful to your dog if eaten, including grapes, raisins, avocados, onions, and garlic. Third he might decide to use it as a toilet which won’t help the composting process. Even though feces will eventually break down, it could also introduce unwanted bacteria.

Add some toys

Finally, consider adding some toys to your garden for your dog to play with. The garden is a great place for playing fetch with a ball. You could also consider buying a tunnel for your dog to go through and perhaps even some platforms and hurdles for practicing dog agility. Features like a sandpit can meanwhile provide an outlet for digging.

Now that you’ve taken steps to protect your dog and garden, I hope you spend lots of time together in the back yard this summer.

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This is a collaborative post but all opinions are my own. Photos via except for photo on feature images courtesy of Quick & Dirty Tips.

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I was raised in Tennessee but have lived in Florida for many years. Love my small home in the Tampa Bay area and its developing garden. My decorating style is eclectic - some vintage, some cottage, all with a modern flair. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Spent many years in social services but am happily retired.

8 thoughts to “Ideas For A Dog Friendly Garden”

  1. Great ideas.

    Shade is important. We cleared back some trees after some of the winter storms leaving a wider shady area and the dogs spend a significantly longer time out there because there is a comfortable spot for them to hide from the heat.

    Our composter is closed so that hasn’t been an issue. Keeps out dogs and doesn’t attract unwanted other critters either.

    One suggestion is avoiding prickly seeding plants. I planted some years ago and I’m still removing them as they keep reseeding and popping up each year even when I thought I’d removed them all the previous year. These get caught in your dog’s hair and can be rather painful when attached to hair and skin.

    1. Yes cats are different in gardens but of course many plants are toxic to cats and I’m sure the compost is too.

  2. Great ideas! I had no idea hydrangeas were dangerous to dogs. Thank you for all this good information in one handy place.

    Thanks so much for joining the Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace. I’m featuring you this week!

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