Spring is here and it seems a perfect time to discuss dogs and gardens.
You might think the two do not go together. You may even think it is impossible to have one if you have the other. With careful planning, you can have tomatoes, tulips and dogs.
An article in the May 2004 issue of Dog Fancy Magazine brings up great ideas for having a pet-friendly garden. Here are some tips to consider whether you are planning or redesigning the space within the confines of your property. First let's assume that your yard is fenced or you plan to fence it. Every dog deserves a secure yard. Secondly, if you want a pretty yard and safe pets, have a kennel inside your property. The size and quantity of dogs will determine the size of this kennel. Make sure the dogs cannot dig their way under, jump or climb over the kennel fence. Have a dog house for shelter, fresh water and make sure there is shade for hot days and sun for basking. When you leave the dogs at home alone, they can be in this kennel safe and secure and will be fine if it rains or snows. Some might provide a doggie door from this kennel into the house so they can come and go as they wish.
If you are able to provide these two, a fence around the property and a kennel, then you can design areas of your yard in which dogs are not allowed.Dogs love, and take it as their duty, to patrol their property. Therefore, do not plant anything within two to three feet of the fence. Leave this space for them to move freely, but just inside of this pathway, use plants that will grow up tall enough to hide the fence. The dogs will be very happy and occupied and you will not look out and see fencing. Your vegetable garden area should be fenced and at no time should the dogs be allowed to enter. If it is established from the beginning that no dogs are allowed, they should not try to sneak in and eat your tomatoes. When you go into this area to work, tell the dog that he must wait outside the gate. He will catch on quickly. If he knows you mean it, he will observe your rules. If you wish to have a small pool, pond or fountain, it must be designed with barriers to keep the dogs out, unless you do not mind them swimming with your goldfish. Plastic deer fencing is inexpensive and almost invisible when wrapped through low bushes. Here again, you tell the dogs they must stay away. This is most difficult for retriever type dogs, but they can learn. A baby pool in their kennel area would provide a good substitute. Watch your dogs as they move around your yard. You will notice that they tend to follow the same paths whether running or playing. Keep these areas open and lay down bark chips or small gravel to encourage them to stay on the paths and out of your favorite perennial bed. Design your planting areas around this. According to the article in Dog Fancy, do not plant when the dogs are present. The digging brings up all sorts of new and interesting smells which they will want to investigate. They are much more inclined to dig up your newly planted plants if they are present for the planting. Make sure all plants are not harmful to pets.
Speaking of digging, providing dogs with an inviting place to dig should discourage them from digging where they are not supposed to dig. Dogs love to dig in sand. Dig a bit of a depression in their kennel and fill it with a mixture of sand and soil. To get them started, you might bury one of their bones or some choice morsel. Let them dig it up and praise them. Anytime you see them digging someplace else in the yard, tell them "no dig" and lead them to their own digging spot. Then tell them it is OK to dig there. They will love their digging hole.
Some discipline is required when attempting to have a nice yard and dogs too. Dogs can be taught to stay out of certain areas. They can also be taught to lie down and stay while the family is enjoying the patio or deck or picnicking in the yard. Before and after their period of staying, be sure to throw the ball and play a bit with them.
In planning a yard, it is nice to have some open space for the family and the dog to play where nothing will be damaged. This can simply be a widening of a pathway. The yard is the dog's kingdom. He does not get out into the world like his people do. We want to provide opportunities for him to have fun and not get into trouble. Setting guidelines and providing for his needs makes us all happy.
A friend sent this in an e-mail. It is worthy of consideration. "He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion." Anonymous
Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry AZ 85544.