When designing and maintaining an organic garden we guard against many types of pests. From insects to vermin (mice, opossum, raccoons etc.) the attacks on our hard work can seem relentless right at the moment when our plants start to bear fruit. Today we are going to talk about a seemingly harmless pest who can totally destroy your garden, and how to sequester them. Let’s talk about dog proofing your organic garden!
Dog Proofing Your Organic Garden Tip #1: Don’t let your pet form bad habits.
When thinking of pet proofing your garden, one of the most important things to realize is that habits stick. The best way to “break” a bad habit such as digging or munching on your garden, is to NOT allow the habit to form. When you are outdoors, working in your garden, make it 100% apparent to your dog that this is a “NO” zone. Do not allow them to accompany you into your garden. While it may be cute now, a digging dog can destroy a garden quickly.
Spend some dedicated time training your pet to stay away from your garden. Some basic training commands will come in handy. Don’t allow your pet to free roam in the outdoors. The temptation is too strong. Keep a close eye on them when they are outdoors, especially in the beginning, and quickly train them to simple terms such as a stern “NO!” even when they approach the garden. A well trained dog makes for a much better gardening companion.
Dog Proofing Your Organic Garden Tip #2: Plant pungent herbs
Many rodents, as well as our furry friends, are deterred by many stronger scented herbs. Planting a row or two of herbs such as rosemary, basil, lemon or lavender can all have pest repelling effects! For dog in particular you can also consider planting any pepper plant toward the front as dogs will not be happy to munch on things like peppers. Capsaicin is often used in pet guard sprays as a natural deterrent for puppy training and can be useful in protecting your garden as well.
Dog Proofing Your Organic Garden Tip #3: Consider Containment
When all else fails, consider containing your garden with a fence/ gated area or potentially consider an outdoor kennel / dog run area for your pets. You might be surprised how much, even a lower fence can help remind your pet to stay out of the garden area.
Add paved pathways through your yard and garden areas. This can encourage your pet to stay on the right path and out of your organic garden!
If your efforts fail to keep your dog from entering a regular ground height garden, consider converting to a container garden that is raised and out of reach from your pet. Organic container gardens can be very effective in deterring pets from poaching.
Dog Proofing Your Organic Garden Tip #4: Distract and Entertain
Think of your pet in terms of children. Bored children act out. The same is true for your dog. When your pet is bored, they can go looking for trouble. Consider creating a designated “digging area” away from your garden that you bury bones, toys etc. in and encourage your dog to dig in this area only. Use your gardening time as “play time” and distract your pet with a game of catch.
Make sure that your dog always has access to shade, food and water if they are outdoors for any period of time. Often, dogs will dig on hot days, to find cooler soil to lay in.
Be sure that your dog is getting plenty of exercise. Many vets recommend up to 45 minutes per day of vigorous exercise to be healthy for your pup.
Dog Proofing Your Organic Garden Tip #5: Avoid Hazards
When thinking in terms of an organic garden, we often recommend avoiding pesticides and harmful chemicals. This is dually true if you have a pet who could potentially munch on the plants in your garden. It becomes especially important to avoid chemicals that could be ingested by your dog or leach into the ground where your dog runs, plays, lays and digs.
From another vantage point remember that even some plants and vegetables that are suitable for human consumption are NOT OKAY for your dog to consume. Things like onions, garlic, and even tomato plants eaten in large quantities can be harmful to your dog.
At the same time remember that it is NEVER okay to use dog poop in your garden for composting or fertilization!
All in all, being a good dog parent and training your dog correctly is the root of dog proofing your organic garden. When considering any animal as a pet, one should always take into consideration their breed needs. Many instincts are strongly engrained in a dog and may not be healthy to break these instincts. Before adopting any pet be sure that the pet will fit your lifestyle! That is the single easiest way to dog proof your organic garden.