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How to create a dog friendly garden

So you either have a dog and are moving to a new home or you are thinking about getting a new puppy. Whatever your reason for searching for dog friendly garden advice you know that having a garden is a key requirement when you want to share your home life with your dog. Making sure your garden is pet friendly and pet safe is a very important part of your garden planning stage.


Here are my tips for protecting your dog in your garden and protecting your garden from your four pawed friend.

Paw Friendly Surfaces

Dogs’ paws are tougher than your feet, but they are still more delicate than the soles of your shoes, so having a paw friendly surface to keep their feet comfortable in your garden is a must.

Don’t use hard gravel or anything with a rough edge, as these could cut their pads and even get stuck between their toes. Try not to choose a surface that can heat up in the sun either, as this will be just as unpleasant for them to walk on.

To reduce the amount of mud, grass and moisture tracked in by pets and people, install a hard surface right outside the door. Or use a large mat.

One thing to avoid in your pet friendly garden is Cocoa Mulch, although this is sold by many garden centres and DIY stores, it contains a lethal ingredient called “Theobromine”.  Theobromine is the ingredient that is used to make all chocolate — especially dark or baker’s chocolate — this is toxic to dogs and can result in their death if ingested.

Create Shaded Areas

With their thick furry coats, dogs can become very hot in the summer months, especially when the sun is out. They can also work themselves into a sweat just by running round and playing ball, so when planning your garden it is important to remember to provide them with a good amount of shade.

Make sure they have a cool and shady spot to relax in, either under a tree or an awning, this way they can get their breath back before the next game and keep their body temperature down.

Fence Them In

Dogs can be great escape artists when they want to be, and there is nothing like chasing a cat or a squirrel to lead them down the wrong path, literally. If your dog runs out of your garden, they could easily get lost or even worse, hit by a car.

Farmers are also allowed to shoot dogs if they think they may be upsetting their livestock, so if you live in a rural location then fencing your dog in is especially important.  Make sure your fence is high enough that they can’t jump over it, but deep enough so they can’t dig beneath it.

Dog Friendly Plants

Believe it or not, there are some plants that can be very poisonous for dogs, so it is important to check what plants you have in your garden. Here are just a few of the dangerous plants that can be found in your garden, for the full list check the Kennel Club website.

  • Ivy
  • Foxgloves
  • Wisteria
  • Hydrangea
  • Day lilies

Avoid Bare Soil

Try and avoid having patches of bare soil in your garden as this encourages your dog to dig which will result in them probably ruining the look of your garden and flowerbeds.

Choose dog friendly plants that aren’t too delicate, such as thyme and periwinkle and plant them in between large woody plants, so there aren’t any gaps. If all your plants are close together your dog won’t find a space to dig. If you have an area that will be bare for a period of time then try sectioning it off using garden wire or blocking it with plant pots.

Create Sturdy Borders

It is important to clearly define which part of the garden your dog is allowed to walk on and which parts are out of bounds. The last thing you want is to find a trail of paw prints across your perfectly preened flowerbeds.

Wooden planks and sleepers are perfect for creating borders, they are strong and heavy so won’t budge once in place, and they also look great. These should prevent your dog from walking on areas they aren’t allowed and also give your garden some extra definition.

Keep Things Green

While a lawn is one of the most comfortable surfaces for dogs and people to wander on, a common problem when you have a dog is brown spots, due to the nitrogen in dog urine. Keeping the lawn well watered and change your lawnmower setting to cut the grass to a longer length will help dilute the urine and hide the browning. There are also products available to help prevent or lessen the burn.

Even better is to designate a bathroom area for your dog. It takes some work, but is possible to train dogs to go in just one or two places in your garden.

  • Haxby
  • Wigginton
  • Strensall
  • Clifton Moor
  • Rawcliffe
  • Huntington
  • Earswick