With a survey showing that millennials are buying houses with their pets in mind, it’s no surprise that people want to make their yard a pet-friendly place as well — especially since our dogs spend a lot of time outside sniffing, exploring, and often getting into things they shouldn’t.
Creating a pet-friendly space doesn’t mean you have to do a complete overhaul of your yard or spend a lot of money. In fact, simple additions like outdoor toys can provide enough activity to tire your dog out. And by making your landscaping and fencing pet-safe, you’re already off to a great start. Whether your entire yard is a designated pet area or you want to create a space that’s all their own, here are ideas of things you can do to create spaces that both pets and their humans will be proud of.
Dogs love to sniff and explore, so a garden can easily become a fun place for them to hang out or take a short snooze while the family enjoys time outside. To prevent accidental poisoning, only plant pet-safe flowers and plants, and avoid potential toxins by opting for eco-friendly garden and lawn care. If you have concerns about your curious pup trampling plants or munching on garden goodies, construct a small fence around the perimeter of your garden or use raised garden beds.
Give Your Pets Their Own Space
Do you have a dog that likes to dig, or have a yard so big you feel like you’re on a scavenger hunt when it’s pet waste pickup day? Consider designating an area of your yard as “dogs only” by creating your own private dog park. You can keep the area grassy or fill it in with pet-safe wood mulch so they can dig to their heart’s content.
When you’re fencing in an area, it’s recommended that you bury the bottom of the fence at least a foot into the ground to prevent them from digging their way out of the yard, especially if the rest of your yard isn’t fenced in. Also, make sure the area is large enough to allow your dog to run and get sufficient exercise. You want it to be a space that they will enjoy, not one that will cause stress by making them feel too contained.
A Shady Spot to Hang Out
If your yard doesn’t have any shady areas, create a place where your dog can escape the sun when they’re playing outside. You can purchase outdoor pet cots that have a canopy, a large sunshade, or use a patio umbrella. Just like people, pets can suffer from heatstroke that can cause seizures or even death. Always keep an eye on your pet during the summer months to make sure they’re staying hydrated, and keep outdoor time to a minimum on extremely hot days.
If you have an active dog, they could benefit from having a small agility setup in your yard. You can also make your own outdoor game by filling a bowl with water and bits of pet-safe fruits and vegetables and then freezing it, creating a fun enrichment activity that also keeps them hydrated. You can also make homemade puzzle toys or scatter treats throughout the yard and let your dog “hunt” for them.
Kiddie pools are also a fun activity for dogs that enjoy the water. Add a few water-resistant dog toys and you have something that will keep them entertained for hours. Water is a precious resource, so be conscious of how often you’re filling the pool and running the sprinkler.
Keep Them Safe
Inspect your fencing regularly to see if any areas are in need of repair, and make sure gates are securely latched to prevent escapes. Some dogs are also excellent climbers, so it’s important to keep an eye on them. This is especially important with foster dogs or newly-adopted dogs that are unfamiliar with the neighborhood and could get lost and scared if they escape.
Always monitor your pets and never leave them outdoors for an extended period of time in extremely hot or cold weather. And never keep your dog chained or tethered in the yard. It’s not only cruel but can place them at risk of being injured or attacked by other animals.
Dogs are social animals, so spend time with them when they’re out in the yard. A game of fetch or Frisbee is a fun way to get in some exercise while spending quality time with your canine companion. If lounging is more your style, a nap in the hammock with your pup is always good, too.
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