For as long as I’ve been gardening, I have shared my love of the outdoors with one-of-a-kind dogs (“mutts” to most people). I certainly can’t imagine gardening without a dog keeping me company. Here are some tips to help you make this work for you too.
Set the ground rules first
- Be clear about how you want your dog to behave in the garden. Set the ground rules for your dog from the start. As with people, pet habits, once established, can be a challenge to change.
- Remember that bored dogs are most likely to get into trouble, so use walks and games to use up excess energy that might otherwise go into destructive garden behavior. (Your dog burns calories this way, and so do you!)
- Decide where your dog is allowed to go and where you don’t want him to go.
- Be consistent. It doesn’t help if you let the dog do what he wants when the flowerbed is weedy, but then expect him to respect the garden when it’s all tidied up.
Dogs and gardens – training tips
Dogs like to be where people are, so when you’re in the garden, take your dog with you for at least part of the time, and when you’re not, keep your dog with you indoors.
- When you’re with your dog, you have lots of opportunities to encourage and train behavior you like and discourage actvities that are destructive to the garden.
- To keep dogs out of flowerbeds, use a verbal cue such as “out of the garden.” This works best if you’re actually in the garden with your dog.
- It may be expensive, but a fenced yard is a godsend for dogs and gardens.
- Some people use invisible fencing – a system that delivers an electronic shock via a receiver in a special dog collar. Actual fences are more effective because they both keep your dog in the yard and other animals out. As well, your dog can’t escape, ignoring the electrical shock when chasing a squirrel, for example, and then getting shocked when trying to get back into the yard.
Garden safety and your dog
When you have dogs or other pets spending time in the garden, choose alternatives to chemical lawn and garden care.
- If you use pest control products, even organic ones, keep pets out of the garden when you’re applying them.
- Keep your dog away from treated areas for as long as recommended, usually until the treated area is dry or 24 hours.