Gardening 101 with Dogs

 How to enjoy your yard and garden with a dog!

Dog in garden

Dogs dig.  Dogs eat things.  It’s what dogs do.  As a homeowner or renter, we have to keep the yard healthy, clean, and looking great.  As a dog guardian, we also have an obligation to keep our canine companions safe and out of trouble in the yard or garden.  There is a balance between letting the family dog enjoy the yard, and allowing you to enjoy the yard, too!

Doggie School 101

Educating your four-legged companion is one of the best ways to protect the dog from things in your garden, and to protect your garden from the dog.  The best way to do this is to teach your canine companion (in a similar way that you would teach your children) not to put things in their mouths.  We also need to teach them where they are allowed to go, and where they are not go through positive, reward-based training.  It’s not really fair to be upset when a dog acts like a dog, especially when we have not told them what we want them to do.  Scolding or punishing them after the fact teaches them nothing, and only breaks down your bond.  Set your canine companion up for success by setting boundaries and teaching them what you do want.

Teach the “Leave It” and “Drop It” Cue 

“Leave it” is a phrase that you can use when you want your dog to leave something alone.  After he or she learns what “Leave it” means, you can use this cue to help them avoid things in the yard or garden that could hurt them, or things that are off limits.  Victoria Stilwell demonstrates how to teach your canine companion to leave something alone with positively training in this video.

Training your canine companion to “drop it” is just as important as the “leave it” cue.  Learn how to teach him or her to let go of whatever is in their mouth – on cue.   This release (drop it) cue is very important.  It protects them when they have something dangerous in their mouth.  It only takes a few minutes to teach most dogs the release cue “drop it”.   The idea behind this training method is to basically offer your dog a trade  – “Let go of the object in your mouth and something good will happen.”  In this video, Victoria shows you a really effective cue for “Take It” and “Drop It”. 

 

All Eyes on Dog

Another key to keeping your yard, garden, and dog safe is constant supervision.  You may not like the idea, but it’s what you signed up for when you brought that dog into your home. Many dogs need to be supervised in the yard, if they are prone to digging, chewing, or eating “unauthorized” items.  You wouldn’t let your child run amuck alone at the pool or candy store, so why do we do it with our dogs?

In this article from Modern Dog Magazine, Stephen Westcott-Gratton, senior horticultural editor at Canadian Gardening, discusses how to discourage digging, how to avoid brown patches throughout the lawn from urination, the flowers, shrubs, veggies and fruits to avoid, why going chemical free is best, and more!   Below is my favorite tip for avoiding unauthorized digging in the yard.

Dog Sand Box

Excerpt from Stephen’s article:  

To discourage Digger from excavating your flower bed and tunneling through your tomatoes, consider creating a space in your yard designed specifically for “paws-on activity.”  A shaded sandbox or sand pit is a great idea, particularly as many dogs love to dig out a cool space to lie in during the warmer months. Situate it at the base of a tree or surround it by low shrubs, and consider adding a layer of wood chips.    A lot of animals like wood chips because they keep everything quite fluffy and light up top and it’s easier for them to dig and bury than solid earth. Giving Digger a place of his own for his hobby may ensure that you harvest spuds from your potato patch and not a basketful of buried chew toys.

 

Read all of Stephen’s safe gardening tips here to keep your garden or yard safe and beautiful while keeping your canine companion safe and happy as you share during the warm months!

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