If you’re lucky enough to have some outside space for your pooch to roam, you’ve probably thought about how to make your garden a fun and safe place that your dog can enjoy. Dogs are naturally curious creatures, so a square patch of grass may not be enough to keep them stimulated. Adding sensory elements to your garden can help to reduce anxiety and stress in your furry friend, as well as keep their mind sharp and active.
To help you create an outdoor space that your dog will adore, we have called on Nicky Roeber, Online Horticultural Expert at Wyevale Garden Centres. Here, he shares his top tips for creating a sensory sanctuary for your pooch. Read on to find out more.
1. CHOOSE YOUR PLANTS CAREFULLY
A sensory garden should encourage your dog to explore and enjoy themselves, so it’s a good idea to add plants they’ll want to sniff or even eat. These shouldn’t pose any risk to your pet, so it’s important that you choose them carefully. Camellias, Fuchsias, and Petunias are all great choices. The Kennel Club has a helpful guide to which plants are poisonous to dogs, so make sure you give that a read before choosing your flowers and shrubs.
You may also want to add plants that are thought to be particularly beneficial for dogs. For example, The Hound Haus says that Meadowsweet will often grab the attention of dogs with digestive problems, while catnip has relaxing properties. If your pet has any ailments that could be alleviated by certain greenery, choose your plants with this in mind.
2. USE TEXTURE
Texture is incredibly important in a sensory garden. Using different materials as flooring is a great way to add it to your space — you could cover one area in astro-turf and another in tree bark, for example.
You might even want to add a paddling pool for your dog to splash around in when summer rolls around. Giving your dog plenty of textures to touch and walk over will help to keep their mind stimulated and sharp.
3. ADD SOUND
Adding soothing sounds to your garden will help to keep your dog calm and relaxed. It’s a particularly good idea if your dog regularly struggles with stress and anxiety.
You can add calming sounds to your garden in a number of ways, from tying wood chimes onto the branches of trees, to setting up a solar-powered water feature that will make a nice trickling sound. You’re bound to enjoy the atmosphere this will bring to your space, too.
4. MAKE SURE THEY’RE ENTERTAINED
As an owner, you’ll know that a bored dog is an unhappy dog. So, it’s important that your garden has plenty of toys and areas that they can explore. Traditional toys like balls and squeaky toys are good, but you might also want to add more interactive playthings, like those that dispense food. If you have the space, you could even add a sandpit, where you can hide toys and treats for your dog to dig up.
If you’re tired of your dog ruining its toys within hours of getting them, be sure to read The Independent’s list of the 11 best tough dog toys. These will do a great job of standing up to daily wear and tear.
Take these tips on board to create a flourishing garden that you, your family, and your dog will love. If your pet is generally quite anxious, the sensory elements should help. And, there’ll be plenty to play with and explore, which will keep them busy and happy.
Have you adapted your garden for your dog? Share your ideas with us in the comments below!