If you're lucky enough to have a private garden you're probably thinking about getting out there tidying it and making it beautiful in readiness for the summer. If you have a pet using your garden now is probably the time to factor them into your thinking and encourage them to make the most of  this very special place safely. Even a small garden can be a place for the entire family to enjoy.

First, make sure your garden is secure.

If your dog is allowed to roam free in the garden make sure you've got sturdy fences or other natural barriers to prevent them from escaping. Some people also fence off areas that they don't want the dog to use, this might be particularly important if your children use the garden. Play parks are dog free for reason; faeces can be very hazardous especially if children a playing on the grass.

Keep garden gates closed.

It may seem obvious but  dogs may be tempted to stray if there is an open gate. It's worth considering putting a sign on the gate to remind people to keep it closed and it is helpful for visitors to be aware that the dog might be roaming free in the garden.

Think carefully about the plants you grow in the garden.

Unfortunately, many of our most common garden plants may be harmful for your dog so it is worth avoiding the following:

  • crocuses
  • daffodils
  • tulips
  • azaleas
  • laburnum
  • lilies

Onions garlic and chives can also make your dog ill. Don't forget that thorny plants can be harmful too with the risk of the prickles getting stuck into fur compose. If you think they have encountered something poisonous consult a vet immediately.

Don't be alarmed though you can still have a beautiful garden as there a lots and lots of plants that pose no threat at all, these include snapdragons,  asters,  roses and sunflowers. Any quality garden centre will be able to give you plenty of advice.

Think about wee and poo!

It's simple… dog owners know about poo. Obviously, it's important to dispose of it responsibly when you're out on a walk but think about your garden too. Leaving poo around can cause problems for your pets, other animals, family members and even neighbours. Don't forget to get the children to wash their hands after playing in the garden.

Dog urine is rich in nitrogen and salt and can burn plants and grass, leaving an ugly patchwork of spots. Recommended shrubs and herbs that are dog urine resistant include basil, oregano, parsley, peppermint, and rosemary.

Water features

Ponds and water features are a great addition to any garden and wonderful for wildlife too,  creating a natural habitat for frogs,  newts and other insects. Keep your pets out of harm's way and consider fitting a guard over the top of  deep ponds.

Create a shady area

it's well documented that dogs can suffer in locked cars as they can easily overheat but even in a garden they can be tempted to sit in the sun and if they fall asleep it can be dangerous. Make sure there is shade in your garden and encourage your pet to use that area by putting down water or treats and making it a good space for them to use.

Pet friendly paths

Paved paths are probably best for your pets as stones and gravel can hurt their feet and can get lodged in their paws.  Some dogs will pick up and attempt to chew stones so if you have a path which isn't paved take extra care.

Pest control

Slugs, snails and aphids are a gardener's worst nightmare, but chemical based pesticides can be dangerous for your pets. Always cheque the labels on pesticides and even some fertilisers and if possible, look out for natural pest control options. (Crushed eggshells, humane mice traps, etc).


Most dogs love a lawn to play on, but grass seed can be problematic for dogs. These irritating little seeds can get into your pets ears between their toes and attached to the skin. Some pets even need surgery to remove the seeds when they get imbedded in the skin.

If you have issues with dog urine ‘burning’ the grass there are repellents on the market but they don’t all have the desired outcome. Natural repellents such as vinegar and citrus have worked for us.

Does size matter?

Obviously for many people, a big garden for them and their pets is a joy but even a small garden can be special. Providing it's safe it's a great place for you to spend time together. You can stimulate your dog by hiding treats, setting out little obstacle courses and using pets safe toys. If your dog is a digger you might even want to give them their own corner of the garden just scratching and hide treats. Even if you have a huge garden your dog will still benefit from daily walks. Having the freedom to roam in a garden is great but so is getting regular exercise and experiencing new smells and experiences that they can only get while out and about.

And finally…enjoy your garden.

If you're lucky enough to have one, it's a great place for you and your family to enjoy.  And what's not to like about a BBQ and a few dog friendly treats?

Robert Angell