Gardens for Dogs

We have a 2 year old Labrador pup, however we used to have a lovely family garden, the grass is thin on top, the bulbs all dug up and the climbing plants are not climbing they have gone.

It is not a huge garden but I want this year to sort it out so we can enjoy it again and so can our dog. Lying in bed at night I think the only thing for it is concrete, but I love the hedge and I love grass, am I dreaming can you have a garden and a dog. I hate gravel so that is not an option.

The Garden is North East facing and we get some day light and we can grown things in it.

Has anyone got an idea which will help me out here




  • i allso have two dogs and some things got damaged but now the dogs are older 

    they do not destroy things. i clearded up the mess each time and now i still have a lovely garden, so my advice is clear it up and replant things if they are badly damaged

    but otherwise most hardy plants of mine recoverd from the dogs.

  • SuziSuzi Posts: 11

    It is so refreshing to here this, I spent two hours searching the internet for ideas and all it  could offer was carving up the garden one small piece for us humans, then  watch the dogs to see where they go and give them what they naturally want - the lot. One site did suggest putting stones around young trees but we get very little light, so the last thing I want is lots of shade, we get such little day light I want to get as much as we can when we have it.

    What plants have you found can take the ware and tear of the dogs

    Thanks again for replying

  • Hi we have a labrador and have had him since he was 15 weeks.  He's been great and is now 9 yeaars old.  Thankfully we never had a problem with him and the garden but a few years back we got a seconde lab a black on as a pup and he was a nightmare.  Not only weeing on everything in sight but also eating stuff and digging it up.  We too considered sharing out the garden but that didn't feel right for the whole family including him. Slowly as he aged he has fussed less with the garden and the plants and now just enjoys sitting in the garden watching the children paly and us doing the gardening.  In addition we found that the brids were happy to land in the garden as he keeps the cats away.

    Don't give up on having a family garden - if you have tendr plants just make sure the dog can't wee on them and keep them out of reach also make sure the dog has something to play with so that they don't get board.  We found that the swing ball was great as he could chase the ball around however he has pulled if off the string a few times and reattaching it can be difficult.  Hope this helps!!!


  • My dog (thats her in the picture) who sadly is'nt with us anymore, came out into the garden with me from a puppy. She did have a habit of biting off the tulip heads in the spring and pulling out munure and rolling in it. All though I would be busy in the garden  I tried to give her attention as well and play with her. It seemed that by including her in the garden it made her less distructive. As time went on she would sit and enjoy the sunshine then come over to me for a bit of a play. I think its just a case of trying to keep them occupied when they are very young.  I really miss her.

  • batbat Posts: 4

    Dogs are trainable - you can get them to empty in one designated spot, a few firmly structured ground rules i.e. do's & don'ts, backed up with verbal instructions if necessary.   I have 2 dogs presently (had as many as 7 at a time) - Marcus seems to me to be on the right wave length.

    Keep trying both the garden & the dogs are worth it.

  • SuziSuzi Posts: 11

    We got her when she was 8 weeks old, and from day one she loves being in the garden  as I love   being outside, you would think great.

    I play throw and fetch with her when I am doing jobs in the garden, and yes she will roll around the garden on her back in the sun, sounds great....but she will climb into the hedge and chase the birds away. The grass is awful, given it was a new turf lawn about 4 years ago it is heart breaking.

    As the garden is small she has a loopy 10 minutes every few days, and this is when she causes her greatest devastation; breaks everything in sight she is quiet like a dog possessed.

    She is walked regulary, and we are trying firm rules with her, she doesn't listen so now I get right down to her level and say NO! as firmly as I can, which seems to work at least with her licking the dirty dishes in the dishwaher.

    She has stopped digging whole in the grass, but to be honest from her wild runs and excitement bursts, plus weeing I think a few whole I can fill, the roses, she clipped to the butt, and neatly stacked all the trimmings on the slabs for me ...these  it was recommended would be dog proof, the only shrub I have found she leaves alone is Lavender, which I put in pots. We had to lose the strawberry bed as she kept pulling all the plants up before during and even after they produced fruit.

    I am told the older she get the better she will be, the only problem is will I have any garden by then, I love her to pieces, she is a true member of the family only problem is she loves the garden for very different reasons.

    Thank you all for taking the time to reply, I do need as much help as I can get., I think to be firm is the right way (Bat), to include her is also a good idea but I do. I might even see if I can get a swing ball for her.


  • just an idea, why dont you grow your strawberrys in a strawberry planter pot, and then keep it out of your dogs way. Im having to think about protection for my plants from chickens.. which is a little easier as I can use netting, although you may be able to have plants in pots and keep them temporarily behind some wire trellis whilst your dog is playing bouncy games. I also have planters attached to the walls which are out of dogs reach.

  • SFordSFord Posts: 224

    I agree with Heins57 that they should grow out of it (especially if they are tired out with long walks).  We've had a (completely mad) springer spaniel from 10 weeks and he completely decimated the garden last year.  I had prepared myself for some damage but it was alot worse than I expected.  I did train him to use the loo in the same place (bottom of the garden on some concrete which we hosed down regularly). 

    Main damage was done by eating or breaking off plants when he ran through them. 

    He is now a year old and although still has his mad 5 minutes, tends to stick to the paths and paved areas.  I cut off the perenniels he damaged last year and expect them to grow back this year.  I think I have only had one fatality that I can see at the moment which isnt too bad considering.

  • Hello dog-lovers,

    Suzi, I'm glad you're getting some good info! Here are some bits and pieces from the site about dogs in the garden. Firstly some advice about how to deal with dog wee. Secondly Adam's written a blog about his poodle when she was four and then when she was 5 - 6. Hopefully they will give you something to look forward to!

    Emma team

  • Hi Suzi - I hope the pup and garden are getting on better now.  I'm new to gardening and just joined the forum this week.  I'm yet to find out what my dog is like with my plants, but I agree with the other comments, I think the trick is a combination of keeping him occupied so he doesn't get bored & destructive and also be firm with him so he knows his boundaries  (what is he allowed to do and what is he not).  My dog is a working cocker spaniel and like labs his main motivator is food image So we have found that an easy way to keep him happy is with the famous 'Kong'  - these are indestrucible rubber dog toys and you simply fill it with whatever you want and then let the dog have a good time unstuffing it to get at the treats.  I stuff it with chicken, ham, kibble etc and also something gooey like peanut butter, squeezy cheese, meat paste to hold everything together.  If you find he gets very good at unstuffing then you can freeze the kong to make it last longer.   Now that we have a garden, I also plan to give our dog real bones more regularly to knaw on in the garden, not only will these keep him occupied but he will be cleaning his teeth at the same time and healthy teeth goes a long way to meaning a healthy dog. Just remember the golden rule of bones.  Never give your dog cooked bones.

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,166

    We have rescued a Labrador who is about 2 yrs old but behaves like a 4 month old pup at best - lots of leaping and bounding and playing.   We got him to keep our rescue terrier cross amused while I was laid up and unable to do walkies for several months.

    She likes to dig up moles and rats and voles when she hears them underground so sometimes our lawn looks like a bombsite and I find plants in borders with their roots hanging in air.   He likes to chase butterflies and romp through the pond and sit or lie near me when I'm working so I have squashed hostas and bent plants and child gates on the living room so he doesn't spray pond juice all over the sofas.   I've also noticed brown patches appearing in the lawn where he's peed but the cons are far outweighed by the pros and we do love our daffy dogs.

    I find long walks help, as do occasional play sessions and also making sure they have their own toys they can chase round the lawn rather than chasing each other round the borders.  The best one is a large knotted rope they can both get hold of and play tug-of-war.   A small football was good enough for Rasta when she was on her own but he shreds them in a few minutes.  

    The Vendée, France
  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    Monty Don has a a golden retriever, named Nigel, who is the star of his weekly gardening program.

    Monty has even trained his dog to do tricks with cooked potatoes (as demonstrated on GW a couple of weeks ago). Monty can balance a cooked potato on Nigel's nose, and Nigel can then throw his head back and catch the potato in his mouth. Am wondering about meal times in the Don household.

    Monty used to have a miniature dachshund, named Brenda, and a Jack Russell, named Barry-Anne. Not sure whether he still has those too, he may well.

  • FloBearFloBear Posts: 2,281

    I suggested to someone else a while ago that building a small sandpit for your dog is one possibility to keep him amused. My friend's collie loves finding toys and treats in his sand pit and he knows it's an area where he's allowed to dig.

    I'm a dog owner too so I do sympathise, but it's the chickens that cause the most havoc. I have to fence off anything I don't want eaten!

  • higgy50higgy50 Posts: 184

    I have a rescue dog and as he was mistreated he wasn't taught any boundaries, this means that my precious perennial borders have become his path ways!! I have to say that I don't worry too much about it and over time you will see, which plants can withstand a little rough treatment from our beloved four legged friends! Anything that is tall and creates good clumps work well I have found, also mixing in good size ornamental grasses with your plants can help? Raised beds are another alternative which have also worked for me? I also have a wildlife & wild flower area which he runs around but as it doesn't have to look so pristine you can get away with a bit more 'trampling!' I have used old branches twisted together or laid on top of each other to make raised beds, divides and paths, which is also a good way to create an extremely informal barrier/fence (there are some pictures of this on my blog below if it is something which might work for you?)

    The most important thing is to just enjoy the pleasure your dogs give you and then adapt your garden if and as necessary, there is absolutely no reason why you can't enjoy both!!!


  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,115

    All goes to show you should do some research before you get a dog.

    Small gardens are not really suitable for large dogs.  Labs were bred to be working gun dogs; not small garden dogs.

    People don't seem to appreciate that dogs get destructive or otherwise unmanageable when they are bored.  That is not the dog's fault; it is the fault of the owner.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,803

    Or the fault of the breeder who sells pups to well-intentioned people who don't have the  facilities or lifestyle to meet the dog's needs.image

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,115

    How precisely is the breeder to know the circumstances of the people they sell dogs to?  The questioning would have to be pretty intrusive. And not all breeders are totally responsible.  Some are in it solely for the money.

    As an example, border collies, a prime example of highly intelligent working dogs, are often bought by people who have not the faintest idea how to handle them. Which is pretty sad for the dog.

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,166

    Responsible breeders do check out their clients before letting their puppies go.  Unfortunately, not all are responsible.

    I also agree that it's best to check out suitable breeds before getting a dog to make sure your house and garden are adquate for their needs and their personality matches your lifestyle and faciities.  This isn't so easy when it come sto rescue dogs whether mixed race or pure.  They've often been badly neglected and/or abused and require plenty of time and patience.

    Our two are very different characters - one is a terrier cross of unknown parentage  who looks like a Labradoodle.  She was 11 months old when we got her and is 5 now and has no more "issues".   She is tenacious, intelligent, sociable and well behaved but likes to dig and chase rodents in the garden plus birds, hares and roe deer on walkies.   Games of fetch are a tug of war.  He is a 2 yr old Labrador we've had for 3 months and is very daffy and playful but timid.  He bounces round the garden, in and out of the pond, understands that Fetch means Retrieve but he's a bit of a scaredy cat with most humans, especially men and boys.

    Fortunately, we have a large garden with a large expanse of grass and some secret-ish paths where they can go and run and hide and play.  The damage they do is minimal compared to the fun we have with them and plants recover well on the whole.

    The Vendée, France
  • Hi Obs - how are you these days?  Good to hear that Rasta's playmate has settled in so well. 


    As far as choosing  a breed of dog goes, I reckon there are so many "fashions" these days that it's a pity people don't think first before they buy - e.g. if you don't have the sort of lifestyle that suits what was bred to be a working dog, you're probably asking for trouble if you can't give the dog the amount of exercise/work/entertainment it needs.  Ongoing maintenance is something people don't often think about much as well - I dread to think what it costs to have a dog's coat professionally trimmed, for example.  Have just paid over £70 this morning for booster jabs for The Accomplice - and, being a whippet, care of his coat etc is minimal! The late Charleyfarley's successor (whippet - of course!) is doing fine - he's a bit whiney sometimes, and I can't always "read" him the way I've been able to with all my previous whippets. He's quite like HCF in terms of wanting to be outdoors a lot, and not nearly so much of a couch potato as T.A. is.  Just goes to show that even dogs of the same breed can be quite different in terms of character.

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,166

    Hi Ma.  Doing well thanks and fully recovered from the op.   There are lots of hidden costs.  Bonzo Dog was free to acquire, despite being a pure Labrador.  However he cost me €170 for all his jabs including rabies and the microchip which we need for his passport,  €100 for his cage, €100 for his basket and bedding, €100 to be castrated and then collar, harness, lead, name tag, toys, bowls and he eats like a horse given half a chance.   At least his training is free cos we adopted him through our trainer.

    Rasta costs €50 every two months for her haircut plus annual jabs, food, kennels when needed.   All cheaper than in the UK from what I can tell.

    They get at least an hour's walk every day, longer at weekends and then play in the garden.  Both like to "help" when I'm gardening.

    Do your two get on well?  I'm sure you'll learn to read the new one soon enough.

    The Vendée, France
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