Spring is here… at last! We’re betting all the green-thumbed folks out there can’t wait to get back to work on their gardens! Of course, your dog is also excited to spend more time outdoors. However, gardening plus dogs isn’t always a winning combination.

So how do we prevent our beloved pets from stomping on, digging up, or otherwise destroying all that hard work? Try this 8-step checklist we’ve pulled together to help ensure that this year you and your dog will fully enjoy your beautiful backyard!

Check boxDesign with Your Dog in Mind

So you’re planning on starting a vegetable garden or planting flower beds. In addition to thinking about the soil and shade cover, you’ll also want to plan the layout with your dog’s play patterns in mind. Build paths around garden areas using paw-friendly materials like pea gravel, and avoid path materials with pointed edges or that can get too hot for their paw pads. Use the path to direct your dogs around your garden, and they may reward you by patrolling it and scaring away unwanted wildlife like squirrels and rabbits!

Check boxAvoid Toxic Plants

Irises, tulips, daffodils, and many other bulb plants are toxic to dogs and cats, as are azaleas, rhododendron and foxgloves, which can cause heart problems. For a more comprehensive list, check out this searchable database of poisonous plants affecting dogs and other animals, created by Cornell University.

Check boxChoose a Pet-Friendly Mulch and Fertilizer

Cocoa bean mulch is particularly toxic to dogs, according Master Gardener Susan Patterson on the website Gardening Know How. It should be avoided in favor of pet-friendly varieties, including pine, cedar, and hemlock. She adds that, even with these safer mulches, they can still be a choking hazard. Pets – especially puppies, who are often voracious chewers – should be supervised in areas with mulch, or kept out of these areas entirely.

Pet owners should also be aware that certain types of fertilizer or mulch are also dangerous to dogs and cats if ingested. When using fertilizer, be sure to select a more pet-friendly option (see list here) and follow all instructions regarding wait times when pets should be kept off lawns or away from treated areas.

Check boxDon’t Leave Supplies Unattended

Pack up your bulbs, fertilizer, mulch and tools at the end of the day, and don’t leave them out unattended. Not only will it prevent wild animals from disturbing them, it will also ensure that your dog doesn’t do some investigating of his own when you’re not looking. Be sure to store these materials out of your pet’s reach, or in tamper-proof containers.

Check boxConsider Healthy Plants You’ll Both Love

There are lots of great fruits, vegetables and herbs that you can grow in your backyard that can be enjoyed by everyone in the home, including your four-legged friends! Why not start with these healthy and easy-to-grow crops?

  • Carrots are hearty, crunchy and most dogs love them!
  • Green Beans are a great source of fiber and vitamins, and are also low in calories.
  • Spinach is a nutrient-rich addition to homemade dog treats. (Too much spinach has been known to cause kidney stones, however, so use moderation.)
  • Squash offers a wide variety of options for growing and sharing. Plus, it is a good source of beta-carotene!
  • Parsley and Mint come in handy in the kitchen, and they’ll help freshen your dog’s breath, too!

Check boxKeep ‘Em Out

Dogs will be dogs, and sometime that means trampling on or digging up your lovely garden. But with some simple barriers in place, both your dog and your garden can live in harmony. A few feet of short picket fencing may deter your small dog from entering the area, or try chicken wire to keep your dogs away from those yummy veggies. Hidden underground pet fences (also known as “invisible fences”*) are another easy way to designate your garden a “no dog” zone.

If you already have a DogWatch® Hidden Fence and want to block off an area of your yard for a new garden, contact your local DogWatch Dealer. He or she will go through the best option for your yard, be it adjusting your existing wire to add a “garden loop” or installing a smaller, more flexible Groundskeeper® system (which can be used with or without the full Hidden Fence system).

Check boxStop the Digging!

A digging dog can not only destroy your garden but also mar your entire lawn. If your dog is a digger, the first thing to do is to try to figure out why the dog is digging. Is he looking for a cool spot to chill out when it is hot? If so, create a cool sanctuary in a spot where he cannot dig, and be sure to leave plenty of fresh drinking water. Is he trying to get at critters that may be just beneath the surface of the yard (moles, chipmunks, etc.)? If so, then the critters need to go. For that, you may need to consider using live traps or a pest removal service. Or is he just bored? If so, then he may need more exercise, new toys, or a playmate to share the yard. Digging may just be part of what your dog does with his excess energy. More walks, runs, or trips to the dog park can work wonders with certain unwanted behaviors, including digging.

Some dogs are by nature tenacious diggers, and will require training to reduce this problem behavior. DogWatch Dealers can help you with this issue as well – ask them about the BigLeash® Remote Trainer, and how it can help distract your dog from digging and discourage the behavior. For more tips on how to stop your dog from digging, check out our blog post on the subject.

Check boxTake a Break and Play!

Gardening is hard work – so don’t forget to take a break! Why not spend some time with your furry friend while you’re off duty? Help her channel her pent-up energy into something productive, like a game of fetch or some obedience training. Or, if he’s more of a lazy pup, take a break in the shade. Let your dog know that gardening isn’t just about mom yelling “No, get out!” or “Don’t eat that!” It means more enjoyable outdoor time for everyone!


DogWatch's Dog-Friendly Gardening Checklist

For a downloadable PDF abbreviated version of the checklist, click this image.


We hope these tips will help you cultivate a beautiful garden AND raise a happy, healthy dog. And remember, click here to download our checklist and share it with your dog-loving friends! Good luck and happy planting to you!

*DogWatch hidden dog fences are often mistakenly referred to generically as “invisible fences” or “invisible dog fences.” Invisible Fence® and Invisible Fencing® are Brand names, products and registered trademarks of Radio Systems, Inc.