Dogscaping: Landscaping for you and your dog

Landscaping for your dog’s safety and enjoyment.

Beagles in a garden

What exactly is dogscaping? Quite simply, it is landscaping for your dog’s safety and enjoyment. Dogscaping is not only for your dog’s enjoyment, it is for yours as well. If you enjoy the outdoors, like to garden or at least maintain a nicely landscaped lawn, it can be exasperating to have a pooch who does not share your passion. Four-legged friends do not always appreciate the hours you labor to have beautiful flowerbeds and perfectly groomed landscape plants around the patio.

There are a few things to keep in mind if you love your pets and your lawn. With a little planning and training, you and your dog can enjoy a shared outdoor space. Landscape design should always begin with a list of how you want to use the space. Draw a map of your property and identify the spaces and their uses. This will help you to plan how much space you have for specific dog activities. Also, list some of your dog’s behaviors and habits. Think about their likes and dislikes.

Here are a few things to consider when landscaping for you and your dog.

  • How much space do you have? Are you planning to share the entire space with your pooch?
  • What kind of breed is your dog? What are some of the breed’s general characteristics? Like humans, all dogs have different personalities, likes and dislikes. A dog’s breed can tell you general inherent characteristics and certain behaviors that are in their DNA. Try to work with those inherent traits instead of against them. This will be much less stressful for you and your dog.
  • Regardless of the breed, a good fence is highly recommended for your dog’s safety. Different dogs and different breeds prefer different types of fencing, but in general, a fence that the dog can see through is nice as they can patrol their territory. It is much less stressful for most dogs to see what’s on the other side of their enclosure. Also, when planning the landscape, you may want to leave a 3-foot “run” around your property’s perimeter (without landscape plants) so your dog has room to patrol.
  • Observe your dog’s behavior. Where do they like to run? Do they like to dig? Do they love to lay in the shade where you want to plant impatiens? Do they jump into your Koi pond every time they are alone in the yard? Try to find creative solutions so the gardener in you and your best friend are both happy.
  • Dogs love to dig! If you cannot deter your dog from digging in a particular area, work with it. Avoid planting your favorite plants in that spot. For example, my dog loved to dig right next to my deck. As soon as I decided it was OK, life became much better for me and my pooch. I simply planted some taller perennials around the selected digging hole and appreciated that she was not digging anywhere else in the landscape.
  • Train your dog to use a potty area.
  • Be vigilant when planting plants that are poisonous or toxic to your dog. This, of course, depends on your dog and how they use their environment. This does not mean you cannot have any plants toxic to your pet, you just need to be aware of your dog’s surroundings and habits. Some dogs like to chew on plants and others only chew up a few blades of grass from time to time. The best advice is to observe your pet and their interaction with landscape plants. Plan and plant accordingly.
  • Add a water feature your dog can enjoy, even a small kiddy pool filled with cool water is enjoyable for your pooch on hot summer days.

For more information about dogscaping or petscaping, there are many great books and interesting articles. One book I recommend is “Canine Design Dogscaping” by Tom Barthel. This book has a lot of great information about plant selection, dog ponds, walkways and fencing. The author includes a chapter on fruits and vegetables to feed your dog from your garden, including recipes for dog treats from the garden.

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