Nothing better for a happy dog than a good well-trimmed emerald green yard! But for his safety and well-being, it is essential to make some adjustments to your yard to qualify as dog-friendly!
You need to install a fence, eliminate all sources of danger- be it chemicals, sharp tools, toxic plants, or harmful pests-, and provide your dog with the comfort he needs by building a proper living space in the yard with continuous access to water and a good playing area to keep him mentally and physically stimulated.
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In this article
Secure the perimeter around your yard
Surround your yard with a fence
Surrounding your property with a fence is very important for many reasons including, safety, privacy, and for aesthetic purposes. But when you have a dog, you need to take some extra measures.
In order to make sure that your dog will not leave the yard, you need to:
- Check the fence for weak spots (corroded wood; broken door; holes or dents)
- Prevent your dog from digging under the yard fence
- Make sure the fence is high enough.
Leave no gaps in the fence
Even for the shyest dog, a little tour of the neighborhood can be very tempting. If he finds a way out of your yard, your dog could get hit by a car, get lost, or even be kidnapped.
He might also trespass on your neighbor’s property or even bite someone out of fear. Also, you can have some unwanted visitors such as rodents, stray dogs, or raccoons.
That’s why you need to ensure the continuity and tightness of your fence.
But if he manages to go outside even if your fence is irreproachable (maybe your dog is an athletic jumper or a hell of a digger), I have the right solution for you:
It’s Whistle’s tracker, it is a waterproof tracking device (can submerge up to 6 ft) with up to 20 days of battery life, that can monitor your dog’s health and any behavioral changes on a daily basis with weekly reports.
Prevent your dog from digging under the fence
To restrain your dog from digging holes under the fence, you can add a layer of concrete under your fence to anchor it deep in the ground. Or, you can extend it with 3–6 feet of welded wire buried just underneath it
Another way of preventing him from digging would be by encouraging him to dig instead! Sounds controversial? Sure, it does! but there is a good reason behind it:
In fact, instead of punishing your dog for digging, designate a specific spot in your yard for him to dig (doesn’t have to be big).
I prefer Sand to Dirt because it tends to be a lot less messy, especially in rainy weather. Now that you’ve got your sandbox, try burying some treats, chews, or toys. And voilà! You just solved your dog’s digging issues and helped preserve your invaluable vegetation.
It would be even better if you could include some playing areas in your yard, depending on your dog’s affinities and age.
For more ways to deal with the diggers do check this article.
The fence should be high enough
For short dogs, most fence heights would do.
But for big dogs, especially jumper ones, the fence should be no less than 6 feet high.
This way not only would you keep your dog inside the yard. But also, no unwanted animal would be able to trespass to your property.
How much does installing a fence cost?
Depending on your budget, you can either build the fence yourself, if you are skilled enough, but you will need both patience and time. Or, you can have professionals install it for you:
Prices range from:
- 0.40 USD a linear foot, at the low end, for a woven wire fence with DIY materials, to
- 3-9 USD a linear foot for a wood fence and
- more than 100 USD the linear foot for a wrought iron-style fence made of steel or aluminum (best option if you are looking for sturdiness).
For more in-depth information check out Costhelper’s Fence cost.
Eliminate all sources of Danger from your yard
Clear your yard of chemicals
Using pesticides and all sorts of chemical products can be very tempting especially if you are striving to have that perfect green lawn, as they give you quick results. Yet most of those chemicals are very harmful to your dog’s health if he happens to ingest even small amounts of them. They can cause anything from a simple upset stomach to a seizure, and even death if not hospitalized quickly. That’s why you need to sweep your yard of any type of chemicals before bringing a dog in. And opt for a more natural dog-friendly way of treating weeds (e.g. organic weed killers, diluted vinegar, hot water, etc.) and pests (biological control).
Be very cautious about what you plant
One of the most frequent causes of emergencies in veterinary medicine is domestic poisoning in dogs due to toxic plants. Usually, the evolution of symptoms is so fast that most cases need urgent hospitalization and aggressive treatments.
If you notice any of the following signs, contact your veterinarian immediately:
- Convulsions (uncontrollable muscle contractions)
- Excessive Excitement,
- Hypersalivation (increased secretion of saliva),
- Lack of appetite.
You will be shocked to know the number of plants that can be toxic to dogs! Many of them are commonly used in yards as ornamental. Check out the list of toxic plants for dogs, cats, and horses at The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Website and the list of The Humane Society of the United States of pets’ potentially poisonous plants.
Here are some toxic plants to get rid of right away:
Also avoid using the mulches of cocoa and coconut husks as they can be very dangerous to your dog. They are very appreciated in landscaping for their ability to swell and retain huge amounts of water. But this property could be fatal to your dog if he ever manages to ingest them, as they will retain digestive liquids and obstruct his digestive tract.
Keep your dog away from the compost!
Compost is an organic DIY soil fertilizer made essentially of food leftovers and organic waste. You can imagine how appealing would be the smells to dogs and other animals! So, you must absolutely lock it down in a secured bin. Despite being so beneficial to the soil, compost can cause serious health issues in dogs as it may contain a lot of pathogens. Furthermore, many of our daily leftovers are not suitable for dogs such as onions, avocados, tomatoes, and others.
Identify the insects inhabiting your yard
Insects are essential for a healthy landscape, as they contribute to aerating the soil, decomposing organic matter into absorbable nutrients, and even pollinating flowers (transferring pollen from the “male” to the “female”).
Unfortunately, not all insects are benefic, some of them can be very harmful to you and your pet. The point here is that you should not go fully “kill mode” as soon as you notice the first bug in your yard. But first, start by recognizing good ones from bad ones, here is a list of some helpful insects.
But the insects you should be more concerned about when it comes to your dog’s health, are mainly ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes:
- Ticks: small external parasites feeding on your dog’s blood. They can transmit many diseases such as Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Babesiosis.
- Fleas: In addition to excessive itching and scratching, their saliva can cause a more serious skin problem in some dogs, called flea allergy dermatitis.
- Mosquitos: small flying insects that feed on blood. Aside from causing itchiness and allergies, they can transmit Heartworm disease to your dog.
Other insects can also be harmful to your dog when ingested like snails and slugs, as they may be infested with parasites (e.g. Lungworms).
How to prevent your dog from harmful insects?
Basically, you can adopt some common good practices like:
- Frequently trimming the lawn (ticks tend to hide in tall grass)
- Pruning the trees
- Eliminating clutter,
- Removing garbage bins,
- Securing the compost,
- Avoiding stagnant waters in the yard.
Those practices are very helpful but won’t spare you from spraying pesticides from time to time, just pick pet-friendly sprays and restrain your dog’s access to treated areas.
And of course, you need to visit your veterinarian to schedule periodic deworming and tick/flea prevention.
Your Dog deserves Comfort
Build a shelter or buy one
It is compulsory to provide your dog with his own living space, with proper aeration, enough shade, and a waterproof rooftop. This will protect him from the negative effects of harsh weather :
- Hot summers (e.i. heat strokes, sunburns, and dehydration) or,
- Rainy winters (Flu and respiratory infections).
If you are agile with your hands, it would be a great opportunity for you to manifest your skills and craft up the dog’s house yourself, I highly recommend you to check out Ted’s woodworking guide with over 16000 wood plans!
Believe me, it is a no-brainer and would save you lots of precious time and money with its step-by-step instructions, detailed schematics, and multiple view angles.
Or you can spare your time and effort and just buy one from hardware stores or have a carpenter build one for you.
Reserve him a “potty area”
To prevent your dog from messing up your grass pooing and peeing everywhere, you need to pick a specific “potty area” for your dog to do his business.
You can either build one yourself and fill it with layers of small pebbles and gravel, as they help in draining your dog’s excrement when hosed down. In this post, you will find 14 inspiring ideas of Potty Spots you can craft Yourself.
Or, you can buy a commercial potty pad, such as The Pet Loo from PetSafe that comes with:
- A Synthetic grass mat can be easily cleaned with water; simply remove it from the base and rinse.
- A covered waste bin and Wee Sponge powder to trap smells and help keep the potty odor-free.
- A sliding Pee-Pod at the base and a Wee Sponge powder that turns the urine into a gel on contact to help dispose of it easily.
This product can be very handy, especially for small spaces such as RVs, campers, apartments, and patios. And can withstand even Big dog breeds like Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Australian Shepherds, etc.
And if you are more of a minimalistic person, you can simply sacrifice a part of the lawn and train your dog to use it as a bathroom.
So how can you train a dog to potty in that specific area?
Well, you need to bury his feces in the potty area, make him sniff them out, and incite him to go relieve himself there, ideally, within an hour of eating his meal.
Always adopt a positive training method, with treats and rewards, as it is scientifically proven to be highly efficient.
Provide your dog with continuous access to water
To stay perfectly hydrated and healthy, your dog must have continuous access to water.
You should consider installing some outdoor water features, as they can be both fun and decorative elements for your yard and a constant source of refreshment for your fur baby. There are many options you can choose from:
- An ornamental fountain (My preferred one!).
- A small pool.
- A watering system (like a Sprinkler).
Preferably, place the water features in shady spots.
Beware of stagnant water! as it is a breeding spot for mosquitos that can carry many harmful diseases.
Also, drinking from puddles or standing water can result in diseases such as Leptospirosis or Giardiasis:
- Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that can cause liver or kidney failure.
- Giardiasis is a diarrheal disease caused by a microscopic parasite called Giardia that can affect both dogs and humans.
Ingesting dirty water can cause many digestive problems, such as:
- An upset stomach Vomiting
- Diarrhea or even
- Other more serious health conditions.
So, please! don’t let your dog drink from that puddle instead provide him with an accessible source of clean water.
Preserve the integrity of your lawn
What Ground Cover should you use?
What do you need a ground cover for? Well, this has to do with your dog’s urine.
Even if you provide your dog with a potty area and train him well to relieve himself solely in that specific space, you won’t be able to prevent him from urinating here and there from time to time.
Because dogs tend to be very possessive, and urinating is just how they mark their territory. Yeah, interesting! But what is the link with ground covers?
In fact, the high levels of nitrogen in the dog’s urine cause brown spots in the grass. And this can be is very frustrating, especially if you spent a long time growing and taking care of that grass.
One way to solve that problem would be by rinsing that urine with water every time your dog pees. But, nobody could keep up with that task (unless you live with your dog in the yard!).
So, to avoid that, many options are available:
For green landscaping, options are:
- Synthetic turf: This is the easiest way to substitute your grass and keep it Green. As synthetic turf needs little to no maintenance work (no more mowing or watering) and will not stain. Also, it stops the digging.
- Clover: This is more resistant to staining than grass and completely edible and safe for dogs.
- Buffalo Grass, Kentucky Bluegrass, or Tall Fescue. These are the best choices if you are looking for more durability and better resistance to staining.
If you don’t bother ditching the grass completely, here are some options:
- Round pebbles: Smooth stones that offer great decoration, fill the gaps, and more importantly are paws-friendly.
- Mulch: A mixture of organic residues such as leaves, hay, straw, shredded bark, woodchips, etc. This is the perfect option for a safe and affordable ground cover. As mentioned before, just avoid cocoa bean mulch as it can be very harmful to dogs if they ingest it).
Build Backyard Dog Paths
A dog’s natural behavior will be to do routine patrols around your yard and instinctively, protect your house. By doing so, certain areas in the grass may start wearing out, creating some paths.
This may be so frustrating for you, regarding the amount of time and effort you spent in order to grow that grass. Well, this is inevitable my friend! So, don’t bother preventing it, instead, try to keep your dog busy by building different pathways that look appealing and aesthetic.
Those paths should have soft curves instead of rough angles, this way your dog won’t have to create shortcuts.
A garden driveway is a very practical layout to guide your dog’s steps on the lawn.
According to costhelper.com, the prices can vary considerably depending on the type of materials used and the different customizations desired.
- 0.75 USD the square foot for a compacted Gravel driveway (with a base and surface layer). up to;
- more than 70 USD the square foot for a Cobblestone driveway.
You can also consider using some relatively cheap backyard ground covers. Such as:
- Round pebbles and chunky mulch, in the worn-out areas of your grass or,
- Place them around the boundaries of the yard where your dog naturally patrols.
Even if you implement all the tips mentioned in this article, you will still have to train your dog properly and enforce the house rules from the beginning.
It is also necessary that you raise awareness about the dog’s arrival.
Your entourage, including children, must understand that a dog is not a toy and that he needs space, calm, and tenderness.
The expected puppy has, certainly, just been cut off from his family. So, he may not want to play or receive cuddles right away. This may seem obvious to you, but you need to make sure that children, family, and friends understand this, as well.
If you have other animals, try to show them as much attention as you used to, when the new dog arrives, so that they don’t feel rejected or replaced –Yeah! jealousy exists even among animals-.
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