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Dog Lovers: You Too Can Have a Garden!

Trainer Talk

Dog Lovers: You Too Can Have a Garden!

It’s time to dive into the dirt with your trowel -- to refresh your landscaping, till the veggie bed and plant your flowers. It’s so satisfying to sow the seeds for your little pea patch, but how do you keep your enthusiastic dog from destroying all your hard work?

Protect Your Garden From Your Dog: Set Physical and Behavioral Boundaries
I suggest first protecting your garden with temporary fencing until your dog learns his off-limit zones. A wide variety of attractive, affordable and removable fencing options are available at local gardening centers.

Next, start training. Dogs can absolutely learn boundaries. And as with all training, the earlier you start, the better. Walk your dog around your backyard on a leash and praise him like crazy when he doesn’t go near the fencing or garden boundary. If he ventures where he shouldn’t, correct him with a firm, verbal “No,” but never yank on his leash. Getting angry or punishing your dog adds stress to your relationship. Your dog wants to please you, so it’s your responsibility to give them the opportunity to do just that. If your training is consistent, before long you’ll be able to remove the leash and your dog will know not to go near the flower beds.

Tools and Tricks for Dogs and Gardens
Using praise and rewards is definitely the best way to train your dog, but you can also try alternative fencing systems as a tool to help teach your dog boundaries.

Ultrasonic fences detect motion and emit a high-pitched sound that dogs find annoying. The way it works is quite simple: Your dog wears a special collar that transmits an ultrasonic signal. You place the receiver unit at the garden perimeter. When the dog approaches the receiver, his collar triggers a loud, audible blast that startles him. Other motion-activated systems produce a stream of water that deters your pet. You can find these online and at many pet stores.

Gardeners also use other home remedies to deter dogs from digging up gardens, such as sprinkling red pepper around beds. But always ask your veterinarian if any such solution can harm your pet.

Don’t Lose Your Cool

We have dogs in our lives because of the pleasure they bring us. When misbehavior -- like digging in the garden flower bed -- occurs, it’s important to remember that we want to adjust the behavior, not make our four-footed friends confused or fearful. Approach the situation with a cool head, and remember it’s our responsibility to create harmony in the household.

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/cjp

Exceptional Canine expert Steven May has been providing expert pet advice to the veterinary industry and the general public for 35 years. He has been featured in People magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and The New York Times, as well as on CNN.com, Reuters.com, the “TODAY” show and “ABC Nightly News.” You can follow May’s pet advice on his Facebook page.
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