Puppy proofing your garden is vital when you have a new addition to the family – especially when that addition is an eight week old Labrador puppy named Harvey. We thought we would share a few guidelines that will make your #OutdoorLiving space fun for you and your new addition.
Puppy proofing is mostly common sense but you should also try and think like a puppy to see what you might miss. Some experts suggest getting down on all fours and moving around your home and garden, pretending you are a lively puppy to see what might grab your attention that a human would miss. Anticipation is the key to preventing accidents before they happen.
When it comes to the garden, it needs to be a space for everyone to relax and enjoy and just taking a few simple steps makes all the difference to how well you and your puppy will settle down together with a minimum of fuss.
1 – Tidy Up
Before your puppy arrives have a good tidy up in the garden. Your new pup won’t know the difference between toys and tools so make it easy by putting away anything that shouldn’t be touched. It’s a good habit to get into for the next few months and will keep puppy safe and you sane.
2 – Gates
Get into the habit of shutting the garden gate when ever you go through it and make sure there are no gaps – puppies are made of rubber and can get through the tiniest of gaps. Make sure the catch works properly and maybe even think about a lock. If people making deliveries use the gate it might be an idea to put a notice on the gate asking them to make sure it is shut.
3 – Fences and Hedges
Make sure your fence or hedge is high enough – not so much of a problem when your puppy is small – but puppies grow into lively dogs that can jump higher than you think. Make sure you have filled in any holes and gaps – remember puppies are made of rubber. It’s also a good idea to move garden furniture away from hedges and fences because if it is there your puppy will use it as a climbing frame. It is one of the laws of being a puppy. Ideally fences/hedges should be at least six feet high and well sunk into the ground – puppies dig and they are made of rubber.
Check your fences regularly – a small hole can soon become an escape tunnel.
You might also consider low fences and borders to protect beds of delicate plants or areas where you don’t want your dog to run and play. You will need to train your puppy to respect those fences – most of them learn very quickly and will prefer the areas where they can have uninterrupted fun.
4 – Garden Chemicals
There has been a lot of work done on developing garden chemicals that are safe for animals but there are still many things that you might not realise are dangerous. Some things can be tolerated by an adult dog but not by a puppy. Check out the chemicals you use and make sure they are stored out of reach. Another law of being a puppy is that everything is to be chewed.
It is probably a good idea to keep your pup off lawns and areas of the garden that have been heavily treated with chemicals, even if they are pet safe, until they are dry.
5 – Plants
Most dogs don’t eat plants but puppies will try anything. There are some plants that will make your dog ill if eaten so you need to make sure they are protected from each other – Cyclamen, Rhododendron, Lily, Azalea, Daffodil, Tomato, Foxglove, Yew, Hydrangea, Bluebells, Onions and Rhubarb Leaves can be a real problem. https://dogstrust.org have an excellent list of toxic plants if you are not sure.
Thorny plants can also be an issue, especially if the thorns are long and sharp, eyes, ears and paws are very susceptible. Yucca and some Cordylines can also be quite vicious when you are not very big – it might be an idea to fence them off until your puppy is a bit bigger. You should also avoid using cocoa chips in the garden as an alternative to bark, as these are poisonous to dogs.
If your dog does eat part of a plant you suspect is poisonous, go straight to the vet, taking the plant with you if possible.
If you have very precious plants containers or raised beds might be the way forward. Strong smells also deter digging so plants like Coleus Canina will act as a barrier to more vulnerable plants. – coffee grounds are also brilliant as a deterrent.
6 – Puppy Space
If your puppy likes to dig – give him his own space where he can dig to his heart’s content. You can tempt him to that space by leaving favourite toys, treats, water etc and he will soon make it his outdoor home and hopefully leave the rest of the garden undisturbed. Puppy sand or a mud pit will really make him happy. If you are really concerned about your garden you could set up a puppy play pen which keeps potential problems at bay.
7 – Toilet Space
You also need a designated toilet space – train your puppy to use a specific place. It will be easier to keep clean and much more hygenic. If you have children they should be kept away from that area. This will also protect your lawns and precious plants. Clearing up promptly after your dog is always a good idea, it will keep the soil and the dog healthier.
7 – Garden Hazards
Things which we may not consider to be hazard may be dangerous to your puppy – the electric lawnmower cable cries out to be chewed as it wriggles gently whilst you cut the lawn. Bits falling from the hedge as you trim it need to be caught – preferably by jumping up towards the hedge trimmer which can cause horrific accidents.
8 – Bins
The chances are you keep your bins in the garden. Puppy laws say that bins have to be upended and investigated as often as possible so you need to take steps to avoid that. You should also make sure that the compost heap is secured, mouldy food is not a good diet and can cause real problems and some weeds are toxic.
9 – Shade
Just as important as a place to play is a place to relax and keep cool, especially in the summer. A shady area should be accessible to your puppy so he can relax and rest if it is too warm for him in the full sun. It’s a good idea to have water there too, other animals will thank you as well.
10 – Time
Most important of all is spending time with your puppy in the garden. Puppies love to be with you and they will follow your lead. If you are relaxed and happy in the garden, so will your puppy. Setting up clear rules of behaviour from the start will make it much easier all round. Puppies thrive on good boundaries and grow into happier dogs – and your life will be much easier too.