Training Your Dog
Just as it is important to consider the design of your garden in relation to the needs of your dog, it is also important to make sure you manage the behaviour of your dog when it is out in the garden.
Basic training can be very helpful, and prevent a lot of problems before they arise.
You can discourage dogs from walking over flower beds by erecting low boundary fences. Once the dog has established alternate routes around the garden, such barriers can usually be removed.
With a bit of time and patience, most dogs can be trained to go to the toilet in one particular area of the garden.
This will not only make the task of cleaning up after your dog much easier, but will also reduce urine damage to your lawn.
There are several products available to help with toilet training, and encourage your dog to ‘go’ in a particular spot.
It is probably wise to pick a quiet corner of the garden, away from the house and most frequented areas, to designate as the “toilet area”. If you decide to use a Dog Loo to dispose of waste, you can place this here too.
Potty Rocks are a “Scented Toilet Training Device For Dogs & Puppies”. The product comes with a simple guide to toilet training with the aim of teaching dogs to use one specific area of the garden as their toilet.
Alternatively, Dog Rocks and other such products are designed to reduce the effects of urine damage.
Play In The Garden
Providing suitable mental and physical stimulation is important in keeping your dog happy.
Encouraging positive activities is also a key factor in avoiding destructive behaviour. Bored dogs will often find their own means of entertainment, which may well involve digging flower beds, chewing plants, and working on escape routes. All of these are not only detrimental to the garden, but more importantly, hazardous to the dog and its well-being.
Toys are important for the physical and mental development of your dog.
Chew toys can keep dogs occupied whilst owners carry on with other activities.
Chewing stimulates brain activity, helps with teething and jaw development in younger dogs, and helps keep teeth clean and healthy.
Dogs left alone for any period of time – in a dog run or inside the house – are usually happier if left with toys to chew on.
Leaving toys around the garden lessens the chance of dogs chewing on sticks, tree roots or other garden objects.
Sticks and branches may be toxic to dogs. Splinters of wood may cause problems if ingested. Timber may be treated with preservatives that can poison dogs.
It is altogether much more positive, for both your dog and garden, that they are encouraged to chew on suitable toys, rather than find their own objects to chew at random.
Kongs and Nylabone Toys provide heavy-duty options for powerful and determined chewers.
Kong Toys can be stuffed with favourite foods. Placing them in the freezer for a couple of hours before giving them to your dog makes it harder for them to get the food out.
Puppy Kong Toys and Nylabones for Puppies are recommended for the more active, energetic puppy. Again, placing them in the freezer before use is a good idea, especially for teething pups as the cold toys will soothe their sore gums.
Balls, frisbees and Rope toys can enable interaction between humans and dogs.
Rope toys are good for playing tug-of-war, and if you are lucky and to have a large enough garden, frisbees are great for games of catch and fetch.
Dog Runs & Kennels
A well designed dog run can serve several purposes.
Most importantly, a dog run can keep your dog secure and safe from hazards in the wider garden (and the outside world if your dog is prone to escaping).
Confining your dog to a limited area – at least while it is unattended – will also keep the rest of your garden safe from your dog!
Ensure that, wherever you decide to house your dog, they always have access to clean, fresh drinking water, and shelter from the rain and sun. If you leave your dog alone outdoors, be aware that patches of shade will shift as the day progresses. You must make sure that your dog will have adequate shade and shelter at all times.
Dog kennels not only provide shelter for your dog, but can make an attractive garden feature in their own right.
Many attractively crafted wooden kennels are available to purchase ready for use.
Some ready-made kennels may require some basic assembly, or treated with a wood-protecting agent.
Always ensure any product or paint used on a kennel is non-toxic to dogs.
Dogs may well chew on wooden kennels, and may become ill if toxic wood preservatives or other coatings have been used.
As an alternative to buying a kennel, you can make your own with relative ease.
You can make such as project as simple or involved as you wish. Simple, easy to follow ‘dog-box’ designs are available on-line, and can be produced using relatively small amounts of wood and little time.
You can also adapt other objects for use as kennels.
Old whiskey barrels make wonderful dog-houses. Many companies will ship used barrels to you at a reasonable cost. A simple wooden frame for the barrel to lie on is all that is required. Simply cut one end out and lay the barrel on its side. You can also create a flat base for your dog to lie on inside the barrel by inserting a flat piece of thick board.
As with all DIY projects, make sure any dog kennels you acquire or build are safe for your dog. Ensure there are no exposed nails or screws, splinters or sharp edges that may cause harm.
Dog kennels usually fair better if raised off the ground.
Some pre-fabricated kennels have their own feet attached. This kind of design not only helps with air circulation, but also makes it less of a problem if your dog urinates up the side of the kennel – as most male dogs will do.
If a dog pees on a kennel sat directly on the ground, the liquid is likely to seep under and soak into the base. Rainwater is will do the same. As such, wooden kennels sat directly on the ground are likely to rot more quickly than those raised up slightly.
Kennels that do not have their own feet can be easily raised on wooden blocks or bricks – if you do this, make sure that the kennel is secured in a stable position.
Alternatively, plastic dog kennels are often more durable than wooden models.
Many well designed, attractive plastic dog kennels are available. Plastic Dog Kennels of standard ‘dog-house’ design can provide a less-expensive option than many wooden kennels. Plastic dog kennels may be preferable for dogs who like to chew. Although they may be damaged by determined chewers, they will not splinter in you dog’s mouth like wood can.
Dog Igloos are a popular choice of plastic kennel. They provide good protection from the weather, and are more durable than a lot of wooden designs.
Dog Igloos can also make a good indoor home for your dog, providing a nice cozy den inside the house.
You must make sure your dog’s kennel or run is safe and secure.
Many owners leave their dogs in outdoor kennels and runs whilst they are out and about. Do be aware that dogs often surprise us in their abilities to escape, and a bored dog left for several hours can become very determined and destructive.
More worryingly, dogs are sometimes stolen from garden kennels or runs.
There have been reported cases of dog thieves cutting weld-mesh fencing or breaking off padlocks to gain access to dogs left unattended. Make sure your dog run is as secure as possible if you are planning to leave your dog alone for any length of time.