becoming a new pet owner or planning for a new garden? Here are some tips that may help
you, your pet and the garden happily coexist.
SIZING UP THE SITUATION
You need to consider first what sort of plants you can
have in an area with your pet. In a landscape be sure to eliminate plants that may be
toxic to your pet, especially if you have a new puppy or a dedicated "chewer."
These can include azaleas, foxglove, bleeding heart, lily-of-the-valley, oleander,
philodendron, mistletoe, iris below ground stems, and bulbs of hyacinth, narcissus and
daffodil. You can call the Poison Control Center at (619) 543-6000 for a list of
toxic plants.It might be wise to give up on tender shrubs like camillias with roots close
to the soil surface as well as sharp leaf plants like yucca which can be blinding.
Area natives are often the hardiest choices.
In a shady area try such plants as begonia, lobelia, ground orchids, pentas and turks cap.
If these are not making it, moving to hardy ivies and ground covers like ardina or wedelia
could work better. In sunny areas Lantana, Daylillies, Salvias, Shasta Daisies, and Black
Eyed Susans could be a good choice.
Before you do any buying or planting
however...WATCH YOUR DOG. Spend a few days of careful observation to see how he uses the
area. Find out:
- Where does he sleep during the day?
- How and where does he react when someone
drives up or approaches the area?
- Is he tearing up the whole yard or just
- Is he beating a regular path through the
- Does he dig? If so where?
Let's talk a bit about "the digger." Digging is
an ancient instinct going back to hunting days. For your dog it may be related to comfort,
hormonal urges or maybe just fun. Compulsive digging often occurs when a dog is left alone
too much. He may be speaking of his loneliness in a very physical way and daily leash
walks with a chance to do some territorial "marking" can help.
Perhaps the problems are not severe or you wish to landscape around your dog. Now that
you've made your observations of his behavior, planning where everything will go can
start. Most dogs that spend any time in the yard alone will wear a path along a fenceline.
Plant vines here if it starts to be an eyesore. Then line a 2 to 3 foot path along it with
soft material like leaves, hay, etc. Stones and pebbles are hard on paws and may incite
your dog to make a more comfortable route you may not like. Gardens on the path's inside
border will hide the dog's path and chicken wire around the plants may discourage digging
until he adjusts. Also try bordering some paths with rock garden as an added incentive.
If you have a true digger or area terrorizer, there are options:
You can divide the yard into two parts--one landscaped area for you and one for the dog.
Decide where you wish your area to be and fence off the other part for him, keeping in
mind his area needs to have some shade all day long. Also remember dogs like to be close
to us and, if possible, arrange it so he can perhaps even see in the house windows. In his
special area it will be ok to dig and enjoy doggie fun and you can allow him in your part
only when you are there to supervise his activities. Make his yard inviting to him. You
can include play sand for digging, platforms for sunning (not too close to the fence for
jumpers, please), chew toys like Booda Bones, and shallow plastic swimming pools for those
water loving breeds.
If digging behavior is severe and the dog has decided to
excavate his way into the "new world".....outside your fenced area, hot wire and
other electronic pet enclosure devices are available at feed or pet supply stores. If
using hot wire, BE CAREFUL! Installed too close to the ground or fence these can be
ineffective or possibly kill small wildlife touching them. Read the directions
One successful way to eliminate repeated hole digging in an area is to refill the holes
with the dog's own waste. If you're able to catch him "in the act", hold his
head to the hole and correct him in a low warning voice accompanied by what I call the
"evil eye." Then guide him over to his "ok" area and praise him
soothingly. Remember dogs speak tone of voice and body language, not English.
Article excerpts by Judy Macomber from
"Planting With Your Pooch".