Creating a Dog Friendly Backyard

25th September 2017

Making backyard safe for our Dogs

Creating a dog-friendly backyard brings many benefits such as the dog's safety, prevention of boredom and attendant misbehaviours, exercise, and enjoyment of nature.

Remember, though, that while letting your dog have a free romp in your yard keeps him exercised, active and happy, the yard should be used only as a temporary retreat. Nothing can replace the time you spend with your furry pal to enhance your relationship and seal your special bond.

Dogs kept in a bland backyard all day are far more likely to misbehave with chewing, digging, excessive barking, pacing along the fence, or fence fighting with other dogs. Adapting your yard to make it more comfortable and appealing to your dog will go a long way toward making for a more contented, relaxed canine companion.

Poisonous Ingestibles

Dogs that are bored or hungry will be tempted to eat anything they find in your yard, including plants or flowers. Dogs can become extremely ill or even die from eating poisonous plants. Ask your vet for a list of plants to avoid. To help prevent your dog from eating plants, don't garden with him present-otherwise he may conclude that playing with plants and digging are acceptable activities.

Mulch can also be problematic. Many types of mulch are toxic, especially cocoa bean mulch. Large-size wood mulch can harm your dog if he chews on it, creating wood splinters that could lodge in his mouth or stomach.

Don't leave out any products meant for outdoor use where your pet can get into them. This includes lawn chemicals like fertilizers and weed killers, antifreeze, pesticides, and outdoor BBQ supplies like charcoal and lighter fluid.

Check out our tip sheet Know What Poisons Lurk in your Home and Yard


Dogs chew for various reasons, such as stress, boredom, teething or diet deficiency. There are different things you can try to prevent this behaviour, depending on your dog and what he is chewing. The easiest way to stop your dog from chewing is to have the item itself give the correction by applying a foul-tasting product such as Bitter Apple spray or Crib Stop to it. However, since dogs' tastes vary, you'll need to experiment to see what works best.

Keep your dog entertained by providing high-quality puzzle toys that reward him with treats, such as the  GameChanger┬« and KONG┬« products. Every few days, rotate what toys are available to him, so that he has something new and fun to hold his interest.

Never give your dog old shoes or clothing items to chew, as he may not distinguish between these old items and new ones. Also, be aware that plastic drink bottles may inadvertently teach your dog that plastic is okay to chew, which means plastic planters, hoses and garden furniture become likely targets for his teeth.

Check out our tip sheet Destructive Behaviour


Water is always essential to your pooch, so be sure the yard includes a large water bowl filled with fresh water in all seasons.

If you choose to incorporate a water feature such as a small pond, be sure to use the kind that circulates water to help avoid mosquitoes. Still-water ponds need chemical additives to kill the larvae that will grow there, and is unhealthy for household pets.

If you have a swimming pool, consider constructing a barrier to prevent accidents. Or, teach your dog to swim (on lead) and show him where to exit the pool.


While being outside can make for a happy dog, being stuck in the blazing sun is unhealthy. Create a cool spot for your pooch by scraping an indented area in a shady place where he can relax in comfort. Without such a place, your dog may create his own spot in an area not of your choosing.


Digging is a normal behaviour for dogs. They dig in search of food, to investigate sounds and smells, to improve their shelter, or to escape.

Digging can be triggered by boredom, separation anxiety, chasing rodents or bugs, and/or a nutritional deficiency. The reason for the digging must be determined before a possible training solution can be tried. A qualified Bark Busters dog behavioural therapist can help you with this tricky behavioural issue.

Check out our tip sheet Destructive Behaviour

Scratching at the Back Door

A dog will scratch at the back door because all the good, fun stuff is kept inside-including you. Give your dog a bone or scatter food (see below) when you put him outside. Whether he is outside or inside, he must know that he is always in safe territory with an abundance of food.

Scatter food appeals to a dog's natural instinct to forage. Dogs enjoy looking for food on the ground and will literally spend hours doing so. Scatter a variety of foods-bits of raw vegetables, dog kibble, and other foods that won't attract wasps-around the yard when you leave. Try hiding a few treats so your dog spends extra time looking for them.

If your dog scratches at the door and cries to come in, ignore him. Let him in only when he stops. If he begins to stress, correct him from inside the house. Do not go out.

Fences and Gates

A fence helps to keep your dog safely on your property and out of harm's way. If your yard has a traditional fence (colourbond or wood), be sure all gates latch correctly each time they are closed. Check the fence for holes or other openings. If there are gaps, place bricks or large stones in front of the holes, otherwise your pet might find a way out of the yard.

Maintaining the Yard

Maintain the yard's cleanliness by regularly picking up after your dog. Some dogs can be trained to use one area for toileting. While the nitrogen in dog urine can be very hard on lawns, watering the area after the dog has urinated can help to minimise damage. A product called Dog Rocks may help with urine burn on lawns. This product is 100% natural and can be found at

Keep your dog (and anyone else) off the lawn after any yard treatments-fertilisers, herbicides or insecticides-until the chemicals have dried completely.

Also, be careful of metal lawn edging. Metal edging invites great risk of your dog stepping on it and seriously cutting his paw.

Dog Houses

If your dog is kept outside, make sure he has shelter in which to get out of the weather. Dogs are more relaxed when they are covered and in familiar surroundings. Place the dog house next to your family's house so that your dog feels like it is an extension of the larger "den." Provide a blanket or other comfy bedding, and be sure he has access to fresh water.

Choose a house made of a naturally rot-resistant material such as plastic or red cedar, but do not use pressure-treated wood, which can contain arsenic. Use rust-proof galvanized nails and screws.

The house should be raised from the ground to insulate the dog from moisture and chills, and should be large enough for him to comfortably turn around but small enough to retain his body heat. In colder climates.

Training Your Dog Can Save Your Yard Too!

Training your dog correctly and regularly will keep him mentally stimulated and help to decrease his overall level of stress. Remember, you can correct your dog for digging, barking, scratching at the door, etc., only if you catch him in the act; correcting after the event is pointless.

A qualified Bark Busters dog behavioural therapist can help you discover the source of the reasons for your dog's outdoor misbehaviours and can provide ways to correct the problems. Your dog and your family will be happier for it!

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