If you’re lucky enough to have a yard where your dog can run around and play, there are a few things you can do to make it safer for him and less stressful for you. With enough patience and some tinkering around, you can provide an enjoyable outdoor setting for all the family members – canines included.
It’s not acceptable to tie your dog to a pole and leave him outside – end of story. However, some people need to leave their dogs outdoors for a few hours. Enclose a sturdy fence around the area you intend to keep him and line the bottom with heavy, decorative stone or cement blocks. The fence should be tall enough so that he cannot jump over it and you should not place furniture or objects near the fence onto which he could jump and escape. Wire fences are too flimsy especially for a dog who is big or a dog who likes to dig. Wooden fences are stronger and they look much better too. Wrought iron is probably the best especially if they are set in a foundation of concrete but they are expensive.
Double-check your neighborhood rules for fencing on your property. There may be height restrictions. Also, building an unsightly fence could be cause for a lawsuit by a neighbor. Additionally, be sure that your fence is about a foot inside your property line. Any larger would risk an expensive re-installation.
You can fence in a small area of your yard too but this is not appropriate for a dog who loves to run around or a big dog who needs plenty of room to play. Whatever fence you decide on, buy a nice doghouse so that he can get out of the sun. Plenty of tree shade is fine also. Don’t ever leave him outside in the snow, rain, or cold weather.
Dogs seem to love creating havoc in very well-manicured lawns. There are a few things you can do to prevent their destructive playfulness. If you have flower beds, insert wooden stakes (pointy end down and flat end sticking out) into the ground around the plants, placed about 6″ away from each other. The dogs won’t be as prone to lying down or walking through the beds. You can also install a short, decorative fence around the perimeters of the flower beds although this won’t stop large dogs from getting in. Using thorny branches isn’t advised – many dogs will suffer the consequences of injuries after they’re done playing or rummaging around the garden.
Dogs love to dig around in the grass – so what are you to do? You could try a water-conservation method – to landscape your yard with desert plants (but not cacti) and succulents. Do your homework to find out if your intended plants are poisonous to dogs. If your dog loves to eat plants or just chew on anything in general, this type of landscaping probably is not compatible with them. If you must have a traditional backyard, try to set aside an area where it is okay for him to fully unleash his canine instincts. Get a sandbox or train him to only dig in a certain spot. Because a digging area could be a flea-trap, spread cedar chips liberally around his play area and the walkways to ward off those pesky blood-suckers.
If All Else Fails…
Sometimes, there’s nothing you can really do except damage control. Having a dog (and children) means that belongings get ruined. Maybe an underlying problem is the cause of destruction. Perhaps your dog feels neglected or is not getting enough outdoor exercise. Walking him or letting him run around in a reputable dog park can help alleviate antsy, obsessive behavior. Are you leaving him outside too often for too long? Hopefully not, but dogs act out when they are left to their own devices without being included in the family. If none of these issues fit the situation, then you might just have to deal with not having a perfectly groomed yard!
By Gabrielle Allemeier
About the Author
Gabrielle Allemeier volunteers her free time as an animal rescuer and foster pet parent. As an animal lover, she enjoys sharing the knowledge she has gained from her experience with a variety of animals. Along with being an animal lover, Gabrielle is a globetrotter. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her terrier, Thisbe.