Pets and the Garden ...Can Your Plants and Pooch Be Friends?
Are you hesitating to adopt a pet for fear of losing your beautiful lawn or garden? Here are some tips that may help you, your pet AND the garden to coexist happily.Sizing Up the Situation:
You must first consider what type of plants you can have in the same area with your pet. You need to ensure that there are no plants that may be toxic to your pet, especially with a puppy or dedicated “chewer.” Toxic vegetation can include azaleas, foxglove, bleeding heart, lily-of-the-valley, oleander, philodendron, mistletoe, iris below ground stems, and bulbs of hyacinth, narcissus and daffodil. It might also be wise to give up on tender shrubs, like camellias with roots close to the soil surface, and to avoid sharp-leafed plants like yucca which can blind an animal. For more info, call your local Orange County Master Gardener Hotline at 714.708.1646 or go to www.uccemg.com.
Now that your pet is surrounded by safe plants, how do you keep your plants safe from your pet? Is your pet a “digger?” Digging is an ancient instinct going back to hunting days. For your dog, it may be related to comfort, hormonal urges or just plain fun. Compulsive digging often occurs when a dog is left alone for extended periods of time. Your pet may be expressing his loneliness in a very physical way. Daily leash walks with a chance to do some territorial “marking” can help.
If you have a true digger or area terrorizer, there is an option: You can divide the yard into two parts – one landscaped area for you and one for the dog. But remember that dogs like to be close to us, and if possible arrange it so he can perhaps even see in the house windows. Put a fence around his special area where it will be okay to dig and enjoy doggie fun. You may also bury some treats there for a “doggie” treasure hunt! Allow him in your part only when you are there to supervise his activities. Make his yard inviting to him; include some sand for digging, platforms for sunning (not too close to the fence for jumpers), include some chew toys, and perhaps a plastic swimming pool for those water loving breeds.
If you can catch your pet in the act of digging a hole, hold your dogs head to the hole and correct him in a low warning voice, then guide him over to his “ok” area and praise him soothingly. And remember, NEVER punish your animal in anger. Dogs speak tone of voice and body language, not English, and certainly not harsh punishment.Desperate Measures:
Severe digging behavior could lead to the necessity of a “hot wire” or other electronic pet enclosure device available at feed or pet supply stores. As with any electronic device, read the directions very carefully to avoid injury to small wildlife in the area.