8 Ways to Make Your Backyard a Doggie Paradise
I'm always suspicious of anyone who doesn't like dogs; what's not to love? Loyal, loving, hero-worshipping, cuddly, stinky dogs. I don't think I am alone; the pet supplies industry tops annual revenues in the billions and continues to grow each year. You can buy gourmet treats and designer wear for your dogs; strollers, luxury beds, pedicures, resort vacations and diamond studded collars. It just stands to reason that you will want to make your outdoor living area as dog friendly (and maybe dog indulgent) as your indoors.
1. Do Fence Me In
Dogs need to be able to move about freely and safely; a backyard paradise will include a sturdy fence to allow this. This is so important for your dog's well-being that there is actually a charity in Oregon - Fences for Fido - the provides fencing for low-income families that have dogs chained up in their yards. Fences don't have to be expensive, just effective. If you have a digger, consider bordering your fence with bricks or stones that make it difficult to excavate.
2. Paw-Friendly Patios
Consider using pavers, flagstone, engineered decking and splinter free mulch to keep those pink pads splinter free. Your dog is also less likely to chew on or scratch up these types of materials. I've seen my little Cavalier spaniel rip through wood trying to get at a chipmunk (the chipmunk got away). He also tore down a gutter down-spout for the same reason. He's a bruiser (see photo)
3. It's a Urine-Nation
Let's face it; dogs are not good gardeners. Their idea of watering a plant is not in the plant's best interest. So for your sake and the plant's sake, choose botanicals that are dog-proof. The killer ingredient in urine is nitrogen; there are some plants that tolerate nitrogen better than others: Rugosa roses; perennial ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue grasses; clover and salt tolerant plants. Another option is to feed your dog a supplement that binds nitrogen in the urine. There are also supplements you can give your dog to bind the nitrogen in their urine and stop the problem at the source, like Naturvet Grass Saver or Drs. Foster Smith Lawn Guard. You can also consider marking posts (in the shape of a fire hydrant; how cute is that?) which may encourage them to keep their business to a designated area.
4. No Poison Plants, Please
The other issue with plants is that some are not good for dogs to be around. Make sure you aren't including any dog-poisonous plants in your landscaping. The ASPCA has a list of plants at https://www.aspcapro.org/resource/shelter-health-poison-control/17-plants-poisonous-pets which include lilies, azaleas, oleander and marijuana. Dude, not kidding.
Dog allergies can also be an issue. Some of the plants that are poisonous to dogs also cause allergic reactions like the lily. For a complete list check out https://www.care2.com/greenliving/allergy-plants-for-dogs-to-avoid-planting-in-your-yard.html
5. Dogs Just Wanna Have Fun
Making sure there are plenty of toys for Spot to enjoy will keep him out of trouble and entertained. Some dogs enjoy a challenge, like this obstacle course. Provide balls and chew toys; even a baby pool is great for a hot day.
6. Throw Some Shade
Speaking of hot days, make sure your dog has plenty of shade to get out of the sun. If you don't have a nice tree, get creative. A dog house or shelter, shade cloth or tarp, maybe even a doggie sized gazebo. Check out this upcycled "barkitecture" from The Bark https://thebark.com/content/barkitecture-cutting-edge-dog-house-design
7. Holy H2O
Dogs need water. Always. 24/7. Consider a water feature that can take care of your canine's needs and also provide some ambiance for your outdoor space. A free-flowing fountain that is accessible to your dog will make everybody happy.
8. Dog Proof Your Digs
When you are shopping for patio furniture, consider your dog. If you have a chewer, you might want to opt for metal or poly lumber furniture for your own peace of mind. Wicker and synthetic wicker might look like the best chew toy ever. If you have a big dog and he's allowed to get on the furniture (of course he is) make sure you are opting for claw friendly fabrics and materials. There are so many options for outdoor furnishings that you should be able to find something that will suit the entire family, including the four-footed members.
For more ideas, check out Pinterest - this page is devoted to some pretty inspired dogscaping! https://www.pinterest.com/maureengilmer/dog-scaped-yards/
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