If you did your homework and completed all of your gardening chores by June, the rest of the year will be a time for enjoying all of the fruits of your hard work and labor. By now, your garden has taken form and you’re probably experiencing a sense of accomplishment. As I’m relaxing in my garden, I almost forget that I have a dog. A dog surely is a man’s best friend. However, my wife loves her garden and sometimes dogs and gardens don’t mix.
Why is this? Most young families with children love working breed dogs (for example, labs, golden retrievers, German short hairs, spaniels, rottweilers, etc.). And this means that all working dogs need work …or they will create their own jobs, such as destroying your garden.
Most people I know never seem to be concerned with all of the disastrous things their dogs will do to their gardens. I’ve seen gardens with countless holes dug and plants pulled out of the ground, ripped to shreds. Sprinklers chewed into submission are a familiar sight as well.
People typically worry about the following common dog problems:
– How will I get rid of the burnt pee spots on my lawn?
– Which of my garden plants are poisonous to my pets?
The truth is:
- Your dog’s pee will burn up on your lawn faster than you can patch or overseed.
- Most horticultural plants are poisonous.
So, what is the solution then? From my own experiences, and from observing client-dog relationships, here’s my advice on dogs and gardening… Think long and hard about your own commitment to an animal’s daily care and well-being. Do you want and have time to exercise them daily? Will the animal be a part of the family unit, or a backyard terror? Will you be accountable for obedience and socializing training? Now, plan for the perfect family scenario for the working couple with children in school:
- Design a dog yard big enough for the size of dog you have. A large dog should have a minimum of 10×30 square feet to roam around.
- Weather-proof your dog house on a platform off the ground.
- Auto-fill your pet’s water dispenser.
- A minimum of half of the run should be covered by shade cloth or a shade tree for afternoon heat protection.
- The surface of the run should be easy on dog feet and easy to keep clean. Brick on concrete, pavers on sand, synthetic grass, or concrete are all acceptable.
- Provide rubber mats or cushion so that your dog won’t be laying on hard surfaces only.
- Gate the area with a secure latching system.
Why all of this for a dog? Your dog needs a safe and secure home while you’re at work, one that is not in the hot sun or exposed to your plants for destroying.
However, there’s a catch – When you, the spouse, and kids get home, the dog will rejoin the family and come out of the dog run to play. Be sure to spend plenty of time with your dog so that it’s not always in the run. Mentally work the dog for obedience training, house manners, social skills, etc. You must be the dominating force, demanding the dog to be respectful of family members and guests. This all will only work if and when you make the dog part of the family, and when the dog can see itself as a family member with expectations. Though having a dog yard is a big job, the payout is great. During the weekends, the dog goes where the family goes and during weekdays (8-5), the dog hangs out in the dog yard. A man gets to keep his best friend, a wife, and his sanity!
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