With Spring around the corner, now is the perfect time to get your garden ready for the lighter nights and warmer weather.
However, if you own a pet, it can be tricky to enjoy the outdoors if your furry friend digs up the lawn or does their business on your prize plants. In fact, searches for “dog-proof garden design ideas” have seen a +150% increase* in the last 12 months.
So, to help protect your garden from pet damage whilst also ensuring your space is safe so they don’t harm themselves – Anna McEntee, from the pet insurance team at Comparethemarket, shares 10 top tips below.
1. Protect your plants
There are many safe sprays you can use near your plants and flowers to deter dogs and cats from going near them. Many are made from plants themselves and contain strong scents that dogs dislike, such as orange peel and bitter apple, which should steer them away.
Cats also don’t like citrus smells so mixing some orange essential oil in water and spraying it around the perimeter of flowerbeds should do the trick.
2. Create a designated ‘business’ area
One way to prevent your dog from doing their business everywhere is to designate a specific place in your garden for this. Bring your dog to the spot to relieve themselves and then reward them with praise and treats.
3. Get rid of harmful plants
We want our pets to be able to enjoy their outdoor space safely, but some plants are dangerous to our beloved companions. While many plants are perfectly safe, others can range from mildly irritating to potentially lethal.
To avoid illness, or worse, get rid of any plants that may harm your pet. These include irises, hydrangeas, daffodils, lilies, and herbs (English pennyroyal mint, parsley, etc.).
4. Create barriers
If you don’t want your pets anywhere near your flowers, shrubs, and veggies, use decorative fencing as borders or barriers so they can’t access them.
5. Make pathways
Ahead of the warmer days, think about your pet’s ‘path to grass’ on very hot days so that they don’t burn their paws on hot patios. To do this, add leafy plants to create shady spots along the route to your lawn.
6. Clear up any exposed patches or piles of soil
Dogs love to dig, so an exposed area of soil is inviting for your pup. Smooth over or remove any piles of soil to prevent mess and spreading more dirt.
7. Use raised plant beds
If you’re trying to grow something in your garden, pets can hinder the process as they may trample or pee on the plants. Invest in raised plant beds so that they can’t reach and destroy your greenery.
8. Choose tough grass
Lots of common garden grass is easily destroyed by pets, but some variants are tougher and much more durable. Bermuda grass is a great option as it has deep, sturdy roots, making it harder to ruin. It’s also fast-growing, meaning that any damaged areas can be quickly repaired.
If putting down grass seeds, try to keep your pet off the new areas of grass while it gets established. Seeds can cause problems by getting into pets’ ears, eyes and paws and working their way under the skin.
9. Protect your pond
Our furry friends love a swim in hot weather. So, if you’re lucky enough to have a pond, invest in a cover to stop dogs from jumping in and to keep fish safe from cats.
Dogs may also be inclined to use the pond as a source of drinking water so do consider providing an alternative source of hydration for those hot days.
10. Prevent your dog from digging
Comparethemarket worked with Sue Ketland, Dog Behaviour and Training Specialist at Woodgreen Pets Charity, on how to train your dog to prevent them from digging up any precious flowers and noted that some dog breeds are more inclined to dig than others, so it is important to research the tendencies of your specific breed.
Boredom is often the root cause of digging behaviour in dogs, so it's important to provide them with adequate physical and mental stimulation. Ensure that your dog is getting enough exercise and consider incorporating mental stimulation activities such as search games that allow them to use their sense of smell.
You can also provide a designated digging area, such as a ball pit, where you can hide treats for your dog to find.
If you are a new ‘paw’rent and want to ensure your pup doesn’t tear up your garden this Spring Comparethemarket has also pulled together their top tips on training your puppy here: https://www.comparethemarket.com/pet-insurance/content/how-to-train-a-puppy/