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How to Dog Proof Your Garden

Last Updated Aug 1, 2017 · Written by Rob Schneider


You want your dog to enjoy playing in the backyard. On the other hand, dogs have a habit of digging in the garden and getting into other sorts of mischief. That doesn't mean the dog has to be kept on a short leash or locked indoors. There are ways to dog proof a garden and get the best of both worlds.

Create a Doggie Playground

Dogs don't dig in the garden to cause trouble. They dig because it comes naturally to them. Rather than let your dog wreak havoc in your carefully tended garden, create a doggie playground.

Create a doggie playground

The trick to creating a doggie playground is to teach your dog to know it is their special place to play. Ideally, the playground should be close to the house. They won't want to dig randomly, so start by hiding treats under the sand outside their playground. Dogs have a keen sense of smell and will gravitate towards the treat. Give a treat every day and soon your dog will start digging in its playground instead of the garden.

Dogs like to have a home they can call their own. A small kennel may not be large enough, but you can build or buy a larger kennel or cubbyhouse a dog will enjoy playing and relaxing in. If you have small children, make a cubbyhouse and play area they can share with the dog, here is some inspiration for a family sized one. Dogs love being around children and will gravitate towards the cubbyhouse even when the children aren't home.

Dog proof your garden

Raised Beds in the Garden

Creating a doggie playground may stop your dog from exploring other parts of the garden. They may decide to wander away from their playground and explore other parts of the garden. That could lead to trouble. Fencing in the garden may keep the dog out of the garden, but it may also make the garden look like a fortress.

In most cases, dogs don't want to face a barrier. Instead of building fences around the plants in the garden, consider using raised beds in the garden. Dogs are far less likely to jump into raised beds than simply walk into the garden and start digging.

Raised beds in the garden

Dogs are less likely to dig in any type of raised bed. This includes pots and anything else that is raised. Get creative and plant flowers in an old wheelbarrow or other raised platform. The flowers will thrive and your dog won't climb into the raised garden and dig up the flowers.

Dogs digging up the garden

Think about raising anything the dog can harm. That won't include larger bushes or trees. They may play around bushes and trees, but they can't dig them up like they can easily dig up or walk over  flower beds and smaller plants. They may dig around the perimeter of larger bushes or trees, but you can easily fix that by filling in the places where they've been digging.

Dogs are Territorial

Dogs are territorial and like to keep track of their territory. They know the fence is the limit of their territory. Instead of planting bushes and other plants against the fence, leave space for the dog to run next to the fence.

Dogs in the garden

Sometimes dogs even like to sleep next to the fence. If they have a shady place to sleep, they won't destroy a plant to create one. They like to do this because it gives them a way to stay on their "turf" and still protect it from intruders.

Secure the Fencing

Sometimes dogs like to get out of the yard and explore the wider world. They do this by jumping over fences, digging under fences and even by figuring out how to open gate latches. The fence should be high enough that your dog can't jump over it. If your fence is elevated even slightly, it will be a temptation to dig under the fence. A dog can figure out how to open a simple gate latch, so buy a latch that is not easy to open.

Secure the fencing

Dogs are great diggers, as anyone with a dog knows. Digging comes natural to them. Even if your fence is close to the ground, a dog will try to dig under a fence or even a wall. To prevent them from getting out, you may have to install chicken wire below the surface around the fence or make a concrete barrier around the fence.

Play with Your Dog

Dogs like to be active. When they're bored, that's when they start digging. When you're outdoors, keep a tennis ball on hand and play with your dog. Dogs love chasing tennis balls. This will give the dog the activity it needs and help prevent it from digging up the garden.

Play with your dog

Playing with the dog doesn't have to be a full time activity. Spend a little while playing with the dog and it will be enough to keep the dog from becoming restless. Encourage the children to play with the dog, too. They will probably want to anyway, but give them balls and other things the dog will enjoy chasing.

Avoid Doggie Dangers

A dog can be a danger to the garden, but the garden can also be a danger to a dog. Dogs like to chew things. Chemicals on plants can make a dog violently ill, so avoid using chemicals in the garden.

Some plants are also toxic to dogs. Avoid planting these plants in the garden:

  • Oleander
  • Ivy
  • Holly
  • Ferns
  • Poinsettias
  • Tulips
  • Orange day lilies

These plants can be toxic to dogs. If you do plant them, make sure they are behind a barrier or elevated so the dog can't reach them. They can look great in a vertical garden, for instance, or you can plant ferns and other plants in pots and hang them from the fence or around the patio.

Avoid doggie dangers in the garden

An organic garden is the safest garden for a dog. It's not hard to use compost instead of chemical fertilisers and natural pesticides work as well as chemical pesticides.

Try these tips and you'll have a dog proof garden.

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