Creating a Dog Friendly Garden

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

  • If you have a dog, chances are you have a garden or an outside area where you want him to play and have fun.
  • Do you sometimes despair at the thought of being able to maintain a beautiful garden while at the same time keeping your dog happy?
  • It’s essential to keep your dog safe at all times in your garden – whether the risk is from plants, tools or garden chemicals.

Making your garden a dog-friendly haven shouldn’t be too taxing. It’s all about making it a fun and exciting place for your dog to spend time playing, relaxing and exploring. This should also prevent them from digging up your flower beds and mean you can both relax and enjoy your time outdoors together.

However, you may need to make changes to the garden the same way you had to puppy proof your house. Certain plants can be toxic to dogs if eaten and are best avoided. In the same way, garden tools (many sharp) are dangerous to children. This is the case with dogs.

It is important to remember that young dogs are explorers, so safety measures will need to be taken to ensure you have a pet-friendly garden and avoid expensive vet trips.

The sooner you begin training your pup, the better, as soon as you introduce him to your new home and garden, so he understands which parts are out of limits. It’s not a good idea to leave your dog out in the garden alone, especially for any length of time, as they may become bored and will discover ways to keep themselves amused – by digging up your favourite plants!

Try and avoid these Toxic plants for a Dog-Friendly Garden

We all love to see a garden in bloom with plants. The bad news is that there are quite a few plants that need to be avoided, such as Daffodils (The whole plant), Hydrangeas, Tulip bulbs, Lupins – the complete list from dog trust can be found on the Dog Trust site.

Some breeds like to dig. And eat the plants (not all dogs do as mine don’t take any notice) then you may wish to dig them up and plant them in lovely pots and containers out of the dogs reach.

As a precautionary measure  would suggest doing this in any event as it is better to be safe than sorry

If you suspect that your dog has eaten something, he shouldn’t have. Put the offending article in a bag and go straight to the vet. If possible, call the vet on route a explain.

Keep it Dog friendly and Try container gardening.

Plant your favourite vegetables and flowers in raised beds or containers if all attempts to prevent your puppy from digging up the flower beds fail. Most plants will grow and do well in these, where it’s less probable doggy paws will trample them.

Ensuring your garden is secure.

As previously mentioned, dogs love to explore, and to them, there is a big wide world of excitement that our new fury friends want to explore. Therefore, it is important that fences are high (6ft)  and gates secure and remember certain breeds will soon work out they can climb up onto objects, giving them some extra height advantage.

The other to keep in mind is digging. Is your dog a digger? If so, it is important to make sure that you install some mesh base at least 2ft underground.

.As well as the high fence to stop your dog from escaping, you may wish to install a trellis on top. This provides further added security if any potential dog thieves want to try and steal your dog—especially pedigrees.

Dog theft from gardens (and outside shops( is massive, with around 60 dogs being stolen every week,  A large percentage of them being from gardens

Snails Slugs  and puppy dog tails

Most gardens will contain snails and slugs, which are a big risk to dogs.

These slimy animals can potentially lead to lungworm if the dogs eat them. The lungworm will cause both heart and breathing problems in dogs and be potentially fatal.

How can I tell if my dog has lungworm?

Symptoms include

  •  Breathing problems
  • Tired and lethargic
  • Coughing
  • Bleeding for longer after a minor scrape or cut
  • Abnormal blood clotting

Your dog must always be supervised in the garden, especially when they are young. This hopefully will prevent him from getting into trouble. If you see any slugs or snails, remove them from the garden and either relocate away from your house or dispose of them. Keeping the slugs and snails down could be a lifesaver.

If your dog has toys and water bowls in the garden, make sure you bring them in at night and give them a clean to help avoid catching anything.

It is also a good idea to speak to your vet when you go for flea treatment about lungworm prevention.

Dogs like shade

If your dog is a real outdoor dog like my collie, they will spend a lot of time in the garden. As a result, it is important to provide them with protection from the sun and rain, such as an umbrella or some kind of gazebo.

Some dogs won’t even go out in the garden for a wee if it is raining, so consider some type of temporary shelter covering an area of the garden for them to use

Avoid harmful pesticides and chemicals.

When creating a dog-friendly garden, it is important to avoid (as much as psisble0 harmful chemicals. These include things like slug pellets, pesticide spray on the roses etc.

When choosing slug pellets, look for pet-friendly organic slug pellets and insect killers.

You could also consider homemade options such as adding garlic and chilli to washing up liquid and spraying the plants. The smell and taste will repel slugs and insects.

If you have a garden pond, this will be considered a large water bowl for your dog. Therefore, it is vital that you don’t put any dangerous chemicals in the pond.

Use a dog-friendly mulch in the garden.

Come the autumn time many people put mulch down to help protect from frost. Before mulching, check what it contains. Some of them have pine needles to help the garden smell sweat, but these small spiky needle type things can potentially cause problems to the dogs’ paws.

Some mulch is made from cocoa beans. This is the dangerous ingredients that is in chocolate and contain high traces of theobromine. Unfortunately, the only possible chance of surviving is for vets to induce vomiting to get as much out of the system,

The best type of mulch to use is probably leaf and bark mulch. However, be careful of choking hazards.

A tidy garden is a safer garden and more dog friendly

As previously mentioned, garden tools can potentially be a hazard. Make sure they are all tidied away after using them and ideally in a locked shed.

That way, when they are running around, and playing fetch etc., they won’t be able to accidentally run into them, which could result in an expensive vet trip.

If you enjoy BBQs, remember these come with their own dangers, and it is important to tidy everything away asap.

Lock up those tools

It is important to keep the shed locked. Most people generally have garden tools, paints, garden chemicals, slug pellets etc., in the shed. As a result, this is a great place for a curious dog so please keep it locked at all ties so your dog cannot get into trouble

Sheds can also provide suitable tools and ladders for burglars to help break-in, so another good reason to keep it locked *and maybe alarmed)

BBQ and dogs

We have an entire blog post on the dangers of BBQ. But a quick summary is to make sure that dogs are well supervised and guests are well briefed about leaving drunks around unattended and cooked bones etc. along with the bbq itself, which is going to be hot and cause severe burns to noses and possibly paws.

Choose hardy grasses for your lawn.

Just because you have a dog doesn’t mean that your dog-friendly garden can’t have a lush, green lawn. It’s a fantastic area to sit and play with them and for them to roll and relax. Hardy types of lawn seed make the best choice, such as self-repairing grasses, which are your best options. Your lawn can suffer deathly consequences if you allow your dog to pee on well-tended grass, leaving brown urine-scorched circles. A handy tip that is worth trying is to add two dessert spoonful’s of tomato juice to your dog’s food dish each day. Apparently, the balance of nitrates is changed, making the urine less harmful on the lawn.

Protect the newly seeded area of the lawn

If you’re planning on reseeding any part of your lawn, make sure it is fenced off so your dog cannot access it. Use some fencing pose and chicken wire.

The grass seeds can get caught in the paw and be painful.

Designated Paths

Dogs usually take the same paths around the garden, so observe the paths they walk and create furry friendly paths using paving or mulch so your dog knows where he can roam freely, and it won’t impede on any garden designs you have either.

Secure your compost bin


More and more councils are encouraging recycling and composting which is great. However, remember that composts can potentially contain toxic pants to dogs and human food that can also be dangerous such as onions, garlic mushrooms etc. and will create a nice smell. It is important to remember that dogs smell is 1000 times better than humans. It may contain other Toxic foods for dogs

To keep your dog safe in your new dog-friendly garden, make sure that they cant access the compost heap.

 Every Dog Friendly Garden needs a relaxing area.

All dogs love to dig for bones and toys, so try to encourage him to dig in his own area; this will hopefully detract him from digging in your flower beds. Prepare an area separate from your garden, and cover with bark chippings or mulch. Let your pet see you burying some of his favourite toys and hide a few that he doesn’t know about. Then sit back and watch the fun he has excavating them when he should begin to realise that this area is for his fun and enjoyment.

A kiddie paddling pool filled with water will give him hours of entertainment while also helping him to keep cool on hot summer days. All dogs, especially larger breeds, need mental and physical stimulation each day, so make sure you allow playtime or long walks daily.

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