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  • Cindy Dole

Dog Happy Gardens

If your dog could talk, and design your garden, your pooch would tell you they want a dog-happy garden. A complete pooch paradise where all of your dog’s needs are met and they can play, explore, be entertained and enjoy your garden. It’s dog heaven where all of their senses explode with the kind of joy when they smile even in their sleep. The added bonus factor to this kind of garden, is the delight you will feel, knowing you’ve answered your dog’s prayers. As the saying goes, “Happy dog, happy life.”

Here’s how to dog-scape your dog-happy garden:

Make safety pretty

Your dog wouldn’t ask for fences or gates, but this is where human rules rule for your dog’s own safety. We need to keep them protected from escaping and getting hurt, or worse. Why not make your dog protection fence seem to disappear and turn it into a living wall with vines and shrubs?

Why not give your dog his or her own window to the world on the other side by creating a doggie porthole! Measure the perfect height for your dog window, then cut out a rectangular hole in the fence, and buy a piece of weatherproof acrylic at a home improvement store. They will cut it to size for you. Use carpenter’s glue to attach the window to your fence. You can add more wood as a decorative window frame. This has been shown to stop barker dogs from excessive barking because now they can also see hat they hear and smell.

Play and exercise

If you have the space and your dog is active, take a cue from dog parks and doggie day care centers and think fun exercise. You can buy some pretty clever and attractive jungle gyms, obstacle courses, hoop jumps and tunnels that may work in your yard.

There are even dog slides, swings and rock climbing walls you’d see in a child’s park. Some are simple and made out of plastic, while others are very fancy and made out of cedar wood. You can also create a DIY obstacle course for your dog using tires that you and stack along with hula hoops for a play tunnel.

Fresh water

Here’s where you and your dog both win. Put in a water feature: a stream, a pond, or a pond-less waterfall in a large urn. It will enhance the tranquility of your garden, and become a favorite drinking spot for your dog. You can do-it-yourself or hire it done.

The pond-less waterfall is pretty easy as long as you are near a GFC outlet. And they sell kits with all of the supplies that make this disappearing waterfall recycle water spilling out of a garden container vase. Any water feature with moving fresh water is perfect for a dog to get a drink, and sound of the trickling will relax everyone in your garden.

Shade and shelter

Whether its trees, shrubs, or a canvas tarp, dogs need and love the feeling of having a place to cool down and get out of the sun. If you have the space, you may want to buy or even make a dog house. There are some custom- designed to mimic your own home’s architecture. Cascading shrubs on garden bed or walls that stop at that perfect spot also work well to shade your dog. They love that feeling of being hidden and protected in a cave yet still able to look out and see the world.

Paths of adventure

Just like we like pathways, so do dogs. Isn’t that convenient? Dogs love to explore and feel like they are going on a new adventure. So do we! And pathways, which can be made out of anything from a hardscape, to grass or walkable groundcovers, just so happen to be a fundamental design trick for any garden. Look for ways to put a path or two in your yard. They don’t even have to lead to anything but can meander or lead to a garden feature. Make sure any hardscape is paw sensitive and doesn’t get stuck in their fur or feet. Concrete and brick work great, and so do flagstone, pebbles and smooth rocks.

Splash and swim

If your dog is a water hound, and your garden can handle it, make a space for them to do what their instincts tell them, to swim and splash the hours away. You can make your own doggie swimming pool area, by digging a hole and installing a kiddie pool. This can look attractive by adding a flagstone or concrete block decking surrounding the top edge of the pool. Think about adding stairs and a waterfall too.

Sit and smell the roses

Who doesn’t like to have their special chair to lounge? Give your dog a comfortable spot that is just for him or her to sit, smell, watch and listen. Outdoor pet furniture is at a new level that rivals people patio furniture. How about an outdoor dog chaise with a shade protection canopy or an elevated outdoor dog hammock for a nice afternoon nap in the garden?

Dog only area

Make an area where it’s just for your dog and perhaps other dog friends for a play date. You can section off a spot using railroad ties cut to size and installed vertically. This is a popular and pretty method for garden beds, so build on it a little further and now your dog has his or her own outdoor room. You may want to train your dog to use this area as his or her designated bathroom.

Snack and toys

We can’t forget snacks and without getting too messy in the garden, it’s fun to make your own block of frozen toys that satisfy your dog’s urge to lick, and chew, while giving them a mental challenge to find the toy. Freeze water and chicken broth with carrots, and hidden toys they can discover. Now they won’t get bored in the garden and they have a reward for being so smart!

To a dog, your yard has more opportunities that romping and doing its business. Make yours a dog- happy garden where your furry family member‘s dreams come true.

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