There is a trend toward making special backyard areas for the family dog that includes security, sun and water, shade and relaxation, and safe, pleasant-smelling plants.
Start by taking a look at your yard at different times of the day to observe what parts are sunny and which are shady. What are your dog’s favorite areas? Make sure there is adequate fencing and gating. If necessary, place garden timbers around the fence line to deter digging.
Some aromatic plants that are safe for dogs to sniff and chew are basil, dill, fennel, thyme and lemon balm. Please use only non-toxic means to fertilize the yard and combat insects.
Blooming plants that are safe include roses, camellias, violets, lagerstroemia and snapdragons. Check the ASPCA list of toxic and non-toxic plants for more suggestions.
Play Area Should Include
- Lots of grassy spaces for running
- Walkways made of materials that are gentle on the paws, such as bark chips or shredded rubber, or cedar chips which deter fleas.
- A kiddie pool, bubble fountain or a sprinkler to splash in
- Balls to chase and things to chew
- Cooling toys: ice cubes in the pool or a bowl of water for your pet to capture (freeze treats inside of them for more appeal), freezable dog teething or chew toys
- Digging toys: Put tennis balls in a muffin tin or a pail to encourage his urge to dig, add a sandbox with hidden toys.
- Obstacle course: a crawling tunnel with an artificial-turf covered wooden ramp, or perhaps place a large log or two in the yard to leap over or to climb onto.
Note: Please do not put metal or glass dog bowls in the sunny area. They absorb and refract sunlight. Water in metal bowls can become too hot to drink. Glass bowls in the right conditions can magnify the sun’s rays and cause fires.
In a shady area, make a place that he knows will be his relaxation spot, along with a cool bowl of fresh water. A trend today is a dog lounger which sits slightly above the ground for greater comfort and less exposure to allergens. Set it up next to your lounger so he will learn that this is his special outdoor place. The shady area is a delightful place in which to add trees, windchimes and a colorful cabana.
Chances are your backyard oasis will have neighbors asking if their dog can come and play.