Make your garden canine friendly.

Being a dog lover, my garden and I have been through a few puppies over the years and it can be quite a challenge to keep that sweet demeanour when you find half the garden dug up, chewed or both.

The strongest advice I can give is to fence off any part of the garden that is precious or can’t take severe pruning with razor-sharp teeth.

Different breeds will create different kinds of havoc (labradors are eating machines). Some puppies will just love to dig, others to dig and then chew what they dig out.

Do not rely on puppies having the sense to differentiate between toxic and non-toxic plants: if you have plants that are unsafe for dogs, you must restrict the access until puppies get past the chewing stage. You may be surprised at the number of plants on the poisonous list for dogs. Give them chew toys and spend time playing with them. It’s a bit like toddlers: you wear them out.

Find a place where your puppy can go and dig — they will probably proudly show you — as it’s better for them to have a spot than have to fill in several holes all over the garden. This is really important during the summer months; they will find the coolest part of the garden to lie in to escape the heat.

The only thing I found that stopped my puppies from chewing furniture, hoses, and reticulation was to rub peppermint oil on everything — they don’t seem to like the smell.

Some puppies develop a liking for certain fruits and vegetables: my Nova Scotia loves plucking the blueberries directly off my bushes and my black Labrador loved chillies straight from the plants. If you are getting a puppy, I strongly recommend growing your vegies in raised beds with plenty of room in between for dogs to walk through — it will save you a lot of heartache.

A shady tree and some lawn are vital so the mutts have somewhere to lay and play and roll. Puppies will become an important part of the family so consider their needs before you add one to yours.


© The West Australian

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