I was up in Boca Raton last week installing a Dog Guard Out of Sight Dog Fence for a new client and her Rottweiler, Bear. The back yard never had a “regular fence”, so Bear never had been in that area alone. Since the client and I had “defined” where the perimeter would be established, we had (theoretically) created a back yard for Bear. With this in mind, it was going to be important to discuss how she set up the new area for her Rottweiler’s safety and entertainment.
Just letting your dog loose in the back yard and thinking everything is going to be fine is not the action of a well informed dog owner. You need to understand that there could be inappropriate things your dog could ingest or “get into”. You also need to understand how to properly direct his behavior to keep his mind stimulated while providing him the appropriate tools to keep him safe and well. I always like to go down a quick list with my clients who want to have their dogs in the back yard for any period of time. I would like to share that with you now:
Dogs can quickly get bored in the back yard and start to chew on things. Eating the grass or running around with a palm branch is perfectly fine. There are some plants in our yards that are great for our gardens, but very dangerous to our dogs. The ASPCA has a great list of these plants located on their web site at Poisonous Plants for Your Dog. Please check out this list to see if you have any of these plants in your back yard.
Also, avoid gardening or working in the back yard with your dog. He will see you dig a hole and plant a bush. As soon as you leave, he will then reverse the process by pulling the bush out and covering the hole. If he sees you spraying lawn chemicals on the grass or plants, he may become curious and lick the grass and plants to try and figure out if “that stuff is tasty”.
Your dog may chew because he is bored, teething, or stressed. The one thing we don’t want them to do is to chew on our patio furniture. If your dog starts to chew on inappropriate things, put something “nasty” on the item such as Bitter Apple or Hot Sauce. This will make it unpleasant to chew on that. Make sure that you have an alternative nearby; such as a Kong Toy or Deer Antler.
We live in South Florida and it is always hot down here. Our dogs can quickly dehydrate on a Summer afternoon and require a good amount of water. Always make sure you have a large water bowl filled with clean, cool water available for your dog. Keep it in a cool and shady place and refresh it often. You might also consider the dog water bowls that automatically refill as the dog drinks. If your dog plays in several parts of the yard, place bowls where he normally “hangs out”.
Many dogs just love to dig. They normally do this because of boredom and digging is simply the “next best thing to do”. We believe that the best solution is to channel and manage this activity.
We suggest that you create a “digging pit”. This is a sandy area where your dog is allowed to dig for things. Since you are in charge of this area, you can make sure he will not dig in inappropriate areas.
- Find an area in your yard that is away from “high activity areas”.
- Clear the area and a hole about four feet square and one food deep.
- Line the area with a plastic cover such as a painter’s tarp.
- Fill the area with white sand.
- Get some of your dog’s favorite treats and toys. Stick them in the sand so that your dog can see them.
- Direct your dog to the “sand pit” and encourage him to dig the goodies out and play with them.
- Continue this process, slowly burying his “goodies” a little deeper. This will slowly make him “work for them”.
Direct, continued sunlight can quickly dehydrate and even sunburn our dogs. You must be sure that there are cool, shady areas for your dog. This can be a covered back porch or under the big oak tree. Make sure that the ground is cool and not muddy.
If your dog has his “favorite place” that is in a sunny area, you could also think of putting a covering (tarp with poles) over it to add the shade for him. Place his water bowl in this area to encourage it as a place of rest and relaxation.
It gets boring out there. Make sure that there is always a good selection of toys for your dog. Let him keep the fetch toys with him so that he can bring them to you when you are ready to play. Switch the toys regularly so that you have the opportunity to clean them and check for anything that might make them dangerous.
Maintaining the Area:
Always pick up after your dog. Even though it is your back yard, leaving his poop down could attract other animals that could be dangerous for your dog. Try to get your dog to use one area of the yard to make this activity easier and will also minimize your “finding them” by mistake.
Keep your dog inside when you are spraying or fertilizing. Many companies tell you that it is fine to let your dog out as little as two hours after they have finished spraying and fertilizing. We suggest that you do not let your dog back into the area for 24 hours.
Fences and Gates:
Of course, we suggest that you have a Dog Guard Out of Sight Fence installed. This will assure that your dog will not go past the boundaries you have set. If you do not have a Dog Guard Out of Sight Dog Fence, make sure that your fence is tall enough so that your dog can not easily jump over it. Check for any places at the bottom of the fence where your dog can squeeze under or easily dig under. Make sure that all your gates are self-closing and actually latch.
Besides making sure you have a dog-friendly back yard and that your dog is secure in the yard is just the start. If you have other training questions, we are here to help. Please give us a ring at Boca Raton Dog Fence Training Help. Great dog fence and dog training advise can also be found at Best Out of Sight Fence Trainers Boca Raton South Florida. Even more stuff is available at South Florida Dog Training Blog on our dog training web site at Home Dog Training South Florida.