How to design a dog-friendly garden

Those of us lucky enough to have gardens have been spending a lot of time in them this summer, and some of us are also new dog owners. While we all love our dogs, we do sometimes wish they’d…you know…stop trashing the garden. The solution is to put some pooch-friendly solutions in place so that you can both enjoy your outdoor space together. We take a look at how.


Use solid fencing, and check it regularly

The first thing to deal with, if you haven’t done it already, is making your garden escape-proof. You’d be surprised how tiny a hole a small dog can wriggle through, and astounded how high a big dog can jump when he sees a squirrel! If you have hedging, you’ll need to run some chicken or sheep wire inside it to stop up any holes. Otherwise, a solid fence with slats that are too narrow to squeeze through is ideal.

If you have a gate that opens directly out of the garden, either keep it chained and locked or put a notice that it must be kept closed – most dogs will take the opportunity for an unscheduled walk if given the opportunity! Some dogs also get very clever about opening catches.

Lawn vs. other options

Most dogs love water, but things may get a little messy!

To grass or not to grass? This is the big question. If you have a large garden then it’s probably not feasible to have anything other than lawn, and dogs do love to run around on grass. On the downside, some dogs love to dig up grass, and dog wee does produce yellow circles on lawn. Neither problem is insurmountable, but you will have to resign yourself to lots of digging out, turfing and seeding! You may be able to teach your dog to dig away from the lawn by making him a designated sand pit and filling it with favourite toys.

For smaller gardens, other options to consider are paving (easy to keep clean but hard for a dog to lie on, some dogs also won’t wee on a hard surface), decking (softer than paving but still easy to clean), gravel (noisy, and hard to clean) and artificial grass. Artificial grass can be hosed off for hygiene and is soft and comfortable for your pooch to lie on, but some people really hate the idea of fake plants in a garden!


Even if they have free access to the house, some dogs prefer to spend all their time outdoors. In that case, make sure your pooch has an area of shade to retreat to such as under a tree or shrubs. Provide an outside bowl of water, as well, and keep it topped up.


Provide distraction in the form of toys.

Unfortunately there is very little you can do to stop a young, healthy, energetic dog from bouncing on your flowerbeds! Raised beds may be some help for smaller dogs, but if they’re motivated to get up there they will. All we can suggest is not planting anything too delicate! Herbs such as lemon balm and rosemary grow prolifically and won’t mind if they get a bit trampled on. Some plants, though, can be actively harmful to dogs if eaten – you can find a list of plants poisonous to dogs on the Kennel Club website. Although most dogs won’t actively attack an adult plant, they may pinch a bit of hydrangea bush to gnaw on if you’ve been pruning so remove clippings as soon as you can.

Make a doggy paradise

Make the garden a space to share.

Giving your dog his own areas of the garden can help to keep him stimulated and keep him out of ‘your’ bits of the garden! Provide outdoor toys, a shallow pool of water to splash in (if you love cleaning your kitchen floor!), a sandpit and a couple of things he is allowed to chew, such as reindeer antlers. Most dogs can be taught to respect boundaries with a little patience, and you can both enjoy your garden together.

All images (c) 2020 Pixabay



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