Creating a Fun, Pet-Safe Yard

Building a Dog-Friendly Yard

Dog loving families know the importance of taking Rex for a nice long walk everyday, but it is also vital to remember that most of us have a great resource for ensuring our dog stays nice and active: the yard! In the spring and summer months, your dog may just find the yard the most pleasant place to be, especially if you’re out there enjoying it with him, though there are important steps to take so that he stays safe at all times.

What Plants are In Your Yard?

The first step to take is to ensure that there are no toxins that can harm your dog’s health. Often, the biggest dangers are commonly grown plants and flowers, including daffodils, lilies, and aloe. Check out the SPCA’s full list of toxic plants, and replace them with dog friendly varieties such as bluebottles, African daisies, or cocktail orchids.

If your yard is large and contains various plants, it might be worth enlisting the help of a professional gardener to identify potential toxins for your pets.

Ensure you buy a dog-friendly fertilizer, since most are highly toxic (which is why manufacturers often require that dogs be kept away from the yard for at least 24 hours). Instead of commercial products to repel insects from plants, make your own spray mixing around 15 drops each of  a variety of therapeutic grade essential oils such as rosemary, peppermint, and citrus oils, with 2 ounces of water.

You can also protect your dog in a natural way by using natural flea and tick repellent, which combines Brazilian oils derived from certified forests, to shield pets from unwanted pests.

To keep slugs away, simply place empty cardboard or plastic egg cartons at the base of plants; they will often crawl inside and you can collect them daily.

Keeping Your Dog Cool in the Spring and Summer

Because dogs have fur, we can forget that they too can suffer the devastating effects of the sun. If you are out all day having a barbecue or pool party, make sure your dog has a nice shady spot where he can rest peacefully.

Your dog should have plenty of water; some people simply use a dog bowl and top it up during the day, but if you have an outdoor water feature that is in tip top shape, there is no reason why your dog can’t have a drink from it. Algae can build up in water features; to remove it, you will need to clean your water feature the right way, avoiding algaecides containing ingredients like copper sulfate or potassium salts, which are toxic to dogs.

To discourage algae growth, change your water at least twice a year (more often if you can), and place your fountain in a shady area, since algae loves sunlight. You can also use a pet-friendly aquatic dye (which colors the water blue) to reduce the amount of light that enters the fountain.

Avoiding Digging Escapes

Dogs are natural diggers and some in particular like nothing better than to dig the soil under the fence to escape to the world outside. Build a stone or cement path between the fence and the yard, or plant a sturdy hedge that will deter your dog from digging.

To really give your dog a treat, build him your own sandpit; just dig up a bit of soil in the backyard and fill it with sand. Hide your pooch’s favorite toys in the sand and watch him dig away to his heart’s delight!

A safe yard is one that is free of toxic plants and chemicals, and one that won’t allow your dog to escape. In the summer, ensure your pooch has plenty of water and a nice shady spot in which to nap after a game of fetch or frisbee!


Submitted by Chrissy Jones

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