If your dog is anything like our English Bull Dog, Toby, our once beautiful backyard has turned into a wasteland over the Fall & Winter seasons. Now that Spring is here and Summer is fast approaching we want to get our backyard into "party hosting" shape again!
The first thing to do is to take an honest look at your backyard and ask yourself, “What needs to be done?” Our backyard needed to be cleaned of leaves, pieces of doggie toys, other items, and poop. We also needed some new flowers and shrubs because our beds are empty! You also want to make sure your backyard isn’t hazardous to your dog. Some hazards to look out for are paint chips, stray hardware, trash in piles or open containers, fertilizers, insect or rat poison, or other such chemicals and things lying about that could potentially cause your dog harm.
So with a broom and trash bag in hand, we started the cleanup process. Our dog has managed to chew up dog toys, plant containers, cushions, wood, drainage tubes, our spa cover, and our rose bush! Who knew Toby would chew so many different types of materials. There seemed to be a million pieces to pick up! To help the clean up process to go a little faster, and to prevent harm to our ageing backs, we held a contest between a few of our preteen relatives. We gave them a plastic sack and had them pick up the pieces and whoever had the most trash in their bags got a $20 bill!
Now that all the possible hazardous items are gone and the chewed up things picked up it’s time to add some color to our empty flower beds! To keep Toby from digging in our flowered beds, we purchased some garden borders to help keep him out. We weren’t 100% sure the borders would keep him out so we mixed one part vinegar and five parts water together and sprayed it all in and around the flower beds and the garden border. We also sprinkled cayenne pepper on the garden border to keep him from chewing on them. The vinegar has an offensive smell to dogs and they do not like the taste of cayenne pepper, but it will not bother humans or plants! There are also some small holes that he had dug in various places around the yard. So we filled the holes and put some of the vinegar mixture over it. We had to recover the lawn furniture cushions, but we put the new cushions in storage when not in use. Toby loves to swim in our swimming pool during the summer, so we make sure all pool toys are properly stored when not in use.
Now to make sure our yard does not become a wasteland again we are doing a few things to make sure Toby does not ‘Take Over’ again with his chewing and digging. Dogs chew when they are teething, playing, or bored. We do not want Toby chewing our plant containers, cushions, or wood so we’ve bought him some really durable chewing toys that stay outside. If we spot him chewing on something he is not suppose to we either spray him with a water pistol, as a shock factor, or divert his attention quickly away from whatever he is not suppose to be chewing on to one of his toys. Dogs dig because it’s rewarding to them to find concealed objects in the ground or if they are bored. We created Toby a section of the backyard that is “A Place of His Own”. We put his dog house and a sand pit in the area. We’ve also hidden a few ‘rewards’ in the sand pit to reward him for digging in the sand pit instead of our yard. Two out of our three ‘backyard neighbors’ have dogs. To keep Toby from digging under the fence to play with them, we’ve moved some of his poop around the perimeter of our yard by the fences so he can only pick up his own doggie smell and not the other dogs’ smell.
In just a few weekends worth of work, we have managed to make our backyard enjoyable again. After cleaning up all the trash, replacing our swimming pool liner, planting flowers, and hanging a few party lights in our tree, our backyard is ready for a party!