Now that spring has sprung, people are working on getting their yards in order. Dogs that are bored will be tempted to dig or eat plants, flowers or mulch. Take a little extra time when planning out your gardens to research the different plants that are safe or are toxic to your dogs.
Garden mulch made from cocoa bean shells is marketed as being environmentally friendly. Since it smells like chocolate, it will attract your dog. While the smell may wear off over time, decreasing the likelihood that your dog will eat it, the mulch still remains poisonous.
Numerous ornamental and garden plants can be poisonous to your pet. Ivy’s, Lily of the Valley, crocuses, daffodils, and rhododendrons are among some of the more popular garden plants that are toxic to your dogs.
Give your dog something to do when in the backyard. Create an obstacle course for your dog to run through. Set up a ladder, weaving sticks, and poles to jump over. Start with your dog on leash and walk him through the course you created. Give him lots of praise when he completes the course. Before you know it he will be able to do it on his own.
Does your dog love to dig in the yard? To ensure he stays safe and only digs in the right places, create a digging pit. Place the pit in an area that is not near any gardens that you want to keep as dog-free areas. Using a sand/dirt mixture will help with water drainage during the spring rains. Make sure the box is not directly in the sunlight as the dirt mixture can get too hot. Once the pit is built it is time to teach your dog how to use it. Take some of your dog’s favorite toys and treats and let him watch you bury them. Call your dog over and help him dig them up. Once he is digging without your help, enthusiastically praise him. When he digs up a treat, he is immediately rewarded by getting to eat it. If it’s a ball or toy you’ve buried then you can immediately play a short game of fetch, then bury it again.
Fill a kiddie pool with water and encourage your dog to splash around. Use dog toys that float for your dog to grab. For more of a challenge use dog toys that sink that your dog has to put his head under the water to retrieve. Add some dog shampoo and combine playtime with bath time. If your dog is not a fan of water, fill the pool with balls for him to roll around.
A fence helps to keep your dog safely on your property and out of harm’s way. If your yard has a traditional fence be sure all gates latch correctly each time they are closed. If there are any holes, fill them with bricks or large stones. Friends and neighbors may not realize how easy it is for a dog to slip by them and run down the street, and service people don’t always shut the gate. Watch to make sure that the fenced yard actually remains fenced in.
Jeri Wagner is a canine behavioral therapist and master trainer. Jeri uses a natural training system leveraging the same communication methods – body language and voice control – that dogs follow as part of their instinctive pack mentality. Training takes place in the home where the problems generally occur. Jeri trains in western Montgomery County, northern Chester County and eastern Berks County. For more information, call 1-877-500 BARK (2275) or visit www.barkbusters.com.
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