Dogs love their outside time, and we love our dogs, so why not turn your yard into a puppy paradise? Here are 10 ways to create a safe and stimulating exterior environment for your favorite Fido.

  1. Keep would-be roamers at home. Loose dogs face a world of dangers, so prevent your pup from escaping from your yard with secure fencing and gates. If your dog’s a digger, bury the bottom of your fence or add a different underground deterrent like rebar, cattle wire or concrete.
  2. Eliminate poisonous plants. Wild animals seem to know which plants are safe to eat and which aren’t, but domestic pets have pretty much lost that critical sense of discernment. Just in case your dog decides to graze on the landscaping, keep your yard free of all poisonous plants, including foxglove, ivy, azalea, oleander, and rhododendron. Cocoa mulch is also toxic to dogs because it contains theobromine, the same substance that makes chocolate off limits for canines. (Lilies can be life-threatening to outside cats.)
  3. Water well. Of course our pets need plenty of fresh water, especially outside where toasty temperatures can make them extra thirsty. Including clean water features like recirculating fountains and pools in your landscaping can ensure your dog always has easy access to water.
  4. Provide shade and shelter. The sky’s the limit here. Some pet parents have fun building designer dog houses and fancy shade structures. But your pup will welcome any sort of safe, cool, shady spot.
  5. Avoid toxic chemicals. Whatever pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers you use on your lawn or in your garden your dogs and cats will absorb through their tongues, skin or paws. Research indicates this exposure can lead to cancer. To keep on the safe side, switch to organic methods.
  6. Stay away from stickers. Avoid thorny plants and those that produce burrs, stickers and sharp-pointed seeds that can get caught in your dog’s fur and even burrow deep into the body.
  7. Choose paw-friendly ground cover. Imagine if you went through life shoeless. You’d want cool, smooth surfaces underfoot. Grass can be great, though it requires plenty of water and tends to yellow from too much doggy urine. Artificial turf can heat up and may leach questionable chemicals. So consider natural alternatives, like tough, low-maintenance ground-covers, flagstone or other hardscaping, or decomposed granite. Stay away from toxic cocoa mulch, as well as asphalt and blacktop sealants, which can burn your pup’s paws on hot, sunny days.
  8. Pick hardy plants and shrubs. Dogs and delicate flowers don’t mix well. Ask a nursery or landscaping professional about smart choices for pet areas. Broad-leaved plants and ornamental grasses, for instance, look good and can stand up to reasonable wear and tear.
  9. Allow plenty of room to play and dig. Give dogs lots of open space to romp, and they’ll be less likely to wander into planted areas. If your pup likes to patrol your fence line, allow extra room for the path he likes to follow. Discourage digging in planted areas by installing a sandbox somewhere else. Bury a bone or two to draw your dog’s interest.
  10. Envision a view. Want to really spoil your dogs? Give them a window on the world by building an elevated platform or cutting a porthole in a fence so they can see what they’re already hearing and sniffing.

Dogs need lots of room to sniff, roam and play. No matter how pet friendly you make your yard, you’ll likely need to plan time into your week to take your dog to the park or beach, where he can run and exercise. Cascade Pet Camp offers dog daycare seven days a week, providing a big, safe outdoor and indoor play area where dogs can get exercise and socialize with other dogs. And, every Thursday night Cascade Pet Camp welcomes well-socialized dogs and their owners to join us for Yappy Hour from 5-7:30 p.m.