Some of us are closer to our dogs than anyone else in the family. After all, they are
“fur-ever” friends. When it comes to your pup, there’s nothing you wouldn’t do to make
him or her healthy and happy. Dogs need room to run and play, so create a safe place
in your own backyard for fresh air and exercise.
A safe haven starts with pet-friendly products in the backyard. Many lawn chemicals
may sicken or kill your pet. They can be tracked indoors on clothes and shoes, too. Use
only organic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides on your grass and nearby gardens.
Speaking of grass, make sure you choose a grass variety that will hold up well to a
dog's running around. Bermudagrass can tolerate a dog’s heavy play and hold up well
in Mississippi's climate.
In the garden and flower beds, choose plants that repel fleas, such as rosemary, mint,
and lavender. Dogs will go after strawberries, wheat and oat grass, and blueberries —
and that’s OK. But don’t grow plants known to make dogs sick such as tulips, azaleas,
mums, oleander, daffodils, peonies, irises, and foxglove.
Dogs love to dig in the dirt, so it’s a good idea to create a special “soil garden” or
sandbox for them to bury bones, treats, and other treasures. You’ll need to keep an eye
on the sandbox for waste and debris.
Dogs are protective; they patrol around the yard by sticking to the same path. This
means they'll wear a trail into the grass. You can prevent an eyesore by building a
pathway decorated with round pebbles, mulch, or ornaments along the sides. Soft
curves help fast-moving pups negotiate the corners.
Fresh water should always be available to your pet, especially in summer. Place water
bowls everywhere around the yard. You might also install a couple of water fountains,
sprinklers, and shallow splash pools — dogs love them! You can use kiddie pools, but
those are made of a thinner plastic that may break under the weight of large dogs.
Check out the sturdier portable dog pools at your favorite pet store.
It’s tough enough to keep your dog safe in the summer heat. Keep in mind: swimming
pools are NOT good places for dogs. While minimal amounts do not affect humans,
dogs are susceptible to chlorine, which can lead to ear and eye infections. If Rover does
take a dip in the pool, hose him off to remove excess chemicals and then dry his ears to
prevent water-based infections. Because dogs may see a swimming pool as a drinking
source, try to keep your pet away from it. Place water bowls nearby. If your pool isn't
covered, make sure your pooch can climb out if he accidentally falls in.
A fenced-in yard is one of the best ways to keep your pet safe from stray dogs, roaming
wolves, coyotes, and whatever else is on the prowl in your neighborhood. Chain-link structures are usually effective. Wooden and plexiglass fencing enhance the ambiance
of your home. Keep in mind an invisible fence will keep your dog in the yard, but it won’t
keep predators out!
It’s not a pleasant sensation when you’re walking barefoot on hot pavement. Your dog
feels it too! Dogs’ footpads can get burned on concrete, pebbles, rocks, asphalt, and
stones. Soft grass is best for dogs to run and play, but you can also place mulch and
small bark chips on the ground. Many kinds of artificial turf get hot and will scratch
tender paws, but there are synthetic products made especially for dogs.
Like you, your dog might get sunburned when the rays are strong overhead. Large,
shady trees are a must in the backyard. If you don't have a large shade tree, consider
building a doghouse, pergola, or gazebo. Strong structures also keep the rain out. High
ornamental grasses will also provide Rover a place to hide and play.
Young or old, pets get bored if they don’t have something to do. Dogs need exercise,
toys, activities, and attention. Our animals are always here for us — it’s a love that lasts
Sheri Wallace is a dog trainer who also owns a doggie bath and grooming business.
When she’s not working with dogs, you’ll find her in her backyard gardening alongside
her Siberian husky and pug.