GARDENING WITH DOGS: Some tips for happily sharing the garden with your canine best friend!

Dogs love to dig holes!

Here’s a post for all of us impatiently waiting for some warmer weather to arrive!

I love dogs and I love gardening too.  Unfortunately, the two don’t always mix.  For a plant enthusiast, there is nothing more horrifying than watching Rover enthusiastically digging a deep hole in the middle of the herbaceous border, or Bella charging through the tulips chasing a squirrel up a tree!

That said, there is nothing more enjoyable than pottering around in the garden with your canine best friend relaxing at your feet.  Dogs add character and variety, and few would disagree that they enhance a garden with their presence.  With that in mind, here are a few ‘ground rules’ – no pun intended!  

A garden is a wonderful place to explore

Do not for a moment, imagine that your loveable pooch knows how to behave in a horticultural setting.  As far as your dog is concerned, your lovely garden is a place of adventure, a potty, and a large exercise pen.  Dogs have to learn that certain behaviors are acceptable and others are not.  This of course takes time, patience, and some mutual understanding.

A pause in the action!
Relaxing in the garden

It is unreasonable to expect your dog to assume the role of garden statue – after all, they are probably intoxicated with all the wonderful smells and sights that a garden offers, and just like you – would love to participate fully in the garden experience.  It is a good idea however, to teach your dog to stay out of the formal borders and keep to the lawn and paths.  A long-leash can assist in this task, especially when combined with some well-placed toys to distract ‘positively’ back to the dog-friendly zones.  

A bored dog can become a very destructive dog, and it is completely unreasonable to leave your best friend alone in the garden for hours on end and expect him to leave your plants alone.  Another reason to spend time together in the garden involves a dog’s amazing capacity to jump over or dig under a fence and explore the neighborhood.  Not only is this dangerous for the dog and scary for you, but your presence enables you to quickly discover any potential problems, and thwart your wanna-be Houdini before the great escape.

For those garden areas that require a little extra protection, a well-placed fence or wall can restore sanity and keep the peace. A clear boundary is also helpful for dogs to learn that the other side is a ‘no go’ zone. We use raised beds and large containers for delicate plants that need to be kept away from inquisitive noses or worse… Your dog’s excavation projects do not belong here!

Make time for fun as well!

Much as I value the beautiful plants in my garden, I never want to create an environment that is sterile or unfriendly. Creating a few spots in your garden that are set aside for your dog to dig, roll, and play will keep everyone happy. A kiddie wading pool is tremendous fun for your dog – and provides an enormous drinking bowl in hot weather!

A well-placed fence and raised beds help direct activity away from your plants

Your dog will LOVE accompanying you while you engage in some good physical activity.  My dogs enjoy helping haul out large unruly branches and digging out invasive specimens – no spade required!  Most important – take a break together – play some ball or smell the roses – the garden is a place of relaxation too!

One last suggestion – a well-exercised dog is much more likely to behave appropriately in the garden than one that has pent-up energy and is running amok like the energizer bunny.  The garden is really just an extension of your house.  Most dogs need plenty of exercise outside of their usual surroundings to be calm enough to settle happily in the garden.  Set your best friend up for success, and you will be rewarded with a delightful garden companion for many years to come.

Are you missing a garden companion? Check out the dogs on our LALDR website that are patiently waiting to find their forever home!

Anne P. (Administrator)

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