Dogs are supposed to be part of the family, so why not build a garden that’s safe and fun for them too? Here are our suggestions for gardens for dogs.

Things to think about when you share your home and garden with dogs are;

  • Security – are they safe from potential thieves?
  • Safety – can your dog escape from the garden and get into a muddle in the outside world?
  • Doggie health – we’re talking about keeping Fido cool in hot weather and safe from poisonous plants and substances
  • Lighting – so that late night potty breaks can be supervised and safe.
  • Boredom busters – a bored dog can be destructive and/or noisy – does your garden entertain him enough?

Jack the Border Collie is very much part of our family. So it’s fair to say that dogs play a big part in our lives. When I’m building a garden, I try to encourage clients to think about their dogs needs too.

Security – keep your dog safe

Every time I see a lost dog poster on a lamp-post or in my Facebook feed, my heart goes out to the owners. It must be horrendous to just not know where your dog is. But your garden can play a big part in keeping your dog safe.

Fencing and gates

Don’t make it easy for thieves to get into your garden or for your dog to escape. If possible, a tall fence or screen makes your dog invisible to passers-by – and therefore less of a temptation to dog nappers. If you’re not a fan of high fences, use screening plants to create a softer effect, or create a doggie section in the garden so he can’t be seen from the road.

It goes without saying that security type gates need to be lockable.

As for types of fencing, well, it depends if you dog is laid back or a bit of a Houdini like my friend’s dog who is more than capable of scaling a 2 metre fence to take herself off for a wander. To deter her, friends have used prickly plants so that she can’t get a good run-up to the fence and the fence itself has vertical slats so she can’t get a purchase on them. Their other dog, Lola is a digger, so we’ve sunk the fence into the soil to make it harder for her to dig out.

Fencing is less expensive than you might imagine. If your dog needs a better fence to keep him safe, call us for a free quote. It’s worth it  just for peace of mind.

Canine health

Remember the summer of 2018? It was so hot that nobody dared walk their dog during daylight for fear of making them ill. If the experts are to be believed, we can expect more summers like that. My answer would be to make sure that your garden has lots of cool shady spots for dogs (and humans) to rest in.

Live plants are rather clever at cooling the atmosphere. They use a process called evapotranspiration to stop themselves from frying in the sun. And we can cash in on that. Lush planting, some trees and shrubs for shade and a natural lawn all work wonders for cooling a space. Ask your landscaper to install a water efficient irrigation system and you’ll be all set to survive a drought.

On the subject of surfacing, pavers can get really hot in the sun. For a truly dog-friendly garden, a shady pergola over the back door will keep help avoid burnt paws in midsummer. It’s also a great place to leave muddy dog walking boots in the winter time.

Some plants are definitely not dog friendly. There’s a list of plants that are poisonous to dogs on the Kennel Club website. I’ll wager that some of your favourites are on there, but don’t worry, a good garden designer can help you to choose safe alternatives that are just as lovely. Oh – and don’t forget that if you store weedkiller, fertiliser, wood preservative or any other chemicals in your garden, the shed they are in needs to be dog proof.

Lighting

Dogs don’t need lighting to navigate the garden after dark, but if you’re anything like me, you want to see what they’re up to out there. That last thing at night potty break needs you to be able to see the dog and also to stay safe negotiating paths etc.

Subtle lighting on steps and beside paths is invaluable. And if you don’t want to annoy the neighbours with flood lighting, some carefully placed downlighters should give you enough illumition to know that Fido is behaving himself.

Boredom Busters

Many a dog has caused a neighbourhood feud because it’s bored and is finding ways to entertain itself. Chewing, barking, whining and escaping are all possible symptoms of distress. Good garden design can help – especially if it encourages dogs and people to play together. However, I’d always advocate talking to a vet and/or a dog behaviourist as well. Gardens are great but they don’t cure all ills!

Any garden can have dog-friendly features included in it. If your dog is a digger – give him a sandpit. For a pet with lots of energy invest in some agility equipment for the lawn and spend time together burning calories.  If your dog habitually runs around the boundaries and gets muddy – design and build a pathway for him (and you) to use.

All that remains to say is that our dogs are with us for such a short time that it’s important to keep them as safe and happy as possible. Making gardens for dogs is simply a matter of considering their needs alongside your own when designing your plot.

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