Wednesday, 12 December 2018
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You and your garden’s best friend: Stop your dog wrecking your backyard

Our once beautiful garden looks like a battlefield.

The lawn is pocked with holes, the foliage is slashed and scarred and one plant, a $175 cycad with arching, graceful fronds, has been mauled to a forlorn stump.

All this damage has been caused by one six-month-old furball, who’s barely up to my knee.

Our dogs have had plenty of walks, food, company and space to run around. Photo: Fairfax Media

It’s not as if she’s left at home by herself all day or banished outside for long periods of time.

She has plenty of walks, food, company and space to run around. 

But she’s hell-bent on destruction and it’s got to stop. So here’s what we’ve learnt so far:

They get bored very easily

It doesn’t take long for a puppy to get bored or feel anxious. Dogs are pack animals and they feel much happier when they have company, as in have someone interacting with them or touching them every second that they are awake.

But that’s hardly practical so if they are alone you have to provide plenty of toys, chews and other stimulating activities, including things they need to work at to get at food. 

The SPCA suggests investing in puzzle toys, slow feeders and even freezing dog food and meat stock into giant iceblocks for them to gnaw at during the summer months. 

Some breeds are hard-wired to dig

While most dogs dig a little bit, some are born to do it.

Dachshunds, beagles and many of the terriers were bred to chase and hunt small game and vermin down burrows, so training that trait out of them is incredibly difficult.

If you’ve got a dedicated hole-digger like our border terrier, consider setting up a designated digging area and hiding some treats there to direct their efforts.

If that’s not an option our vet suggested we try blowing up a few balloons, wedging them into the holes and covering them with dirt.

He reckoned it’d only take one or two loud bangs to stop the digging, but that we should be sure to remove the deflated balloons afterwards to prevent choking hazard.

And if there is one area that you really don’t want them to dig, fence it off.

They will chew anything

Our puppy really likes chewing wood and foliage. Branches, leaves and any sharp and splintery-type wood, like the side of the deck, will do.

I’ve heard of other dogs chewing garden hoses, outdoor furniture and even bits of gravel. 

Plenty of different chew toys, rotated regularly, seem to be the best distraction for this destructive chewing.

Toys in thick natural rubber work are the only real chew-proof option we’ve found. A pig’s ear or the like lasts about 15 seconds with our girl. 

And if you want to prevent an area the deck being chewed? A sprinkle of white pepper or smear of chilli oil works a treat. 

What you feed them counts

Dogs with a very high protein diet have more nitrates in their urine, which can result in burnt or yellowing patches on your lawn. 

Female dogs are more likely to burn the lawn because of the way they urinate. 

If this is a problem, try changing their diet, getting them to drink more water or hosing down the lawn directly afterwards. 

There are water additives and other things you can buy to neutralise the nitrates but only use those on advice from your vet.  

Plants are replaceable

Some of the plants she’s destroyed will bounce back from their hard pruning.  

The others that are beyond saving can always be replaced. 

We’re thinking we’ll go nice, hardy edging plant next time that’s going to withstand the assault. Maybe nice row of gorse. 

This story was first published by


The Bark Box

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