Getting a puppy is incredibly exciting, but it’s no easy feat prepping your home for the new arrival – especially if they’ve got bundles of energy and a curious mind to match.
And for rottweilers and other working dog breeds, there’s added strength and activity to keep in check.
If your dog is going to be spending considerable time in the garden, you’ve got to make your outside areas dog-proof.
Here’s some changes you can make before introducing your dog to the great outdoors, so you can rest easy knowing both your pet and garden are much safer:
Make your fence top priority
Investing in suitable fencing will keep your dog safe from outside threats and prevent any escapes or injuries. Make sure your fence is high enough so that a grown dog can’t jump over it, impenetrable enough that a pup can’t squeeze through or get stuck in between, and buried deep enough that an excitable digger can’t get underneath.
Consider these points when thinking about dog-proof fencing for your garden:
- Check your outer fence line regularly for any escape points as well as before bringing a dog home for the first time.
- Ensure your fence is high enough for your dog – even once it’s fully grown.
- Dogs will often try to dig underneath the fence. Sink it deep enough into the ground to prevent this.
- Your fence should be sturdy enough to stop dogs pushing through slats or breaking it down. If your fence has gaps, make sure your dog can’t get through, and won’t get hurt trying.
- A fence gate is often an easy escape for a clever dog. Use a tamper-proof latch that closes behind you toprevent your dog from opening the garden gate while you’re away.
Puppy owners often fence-off an area inside the garden exclusively for the puppy to use.
When they grow bigger, they can then gain access to the whole dog-proofed garden. This provides an initial safe space for the puppy to securely exercise, rest, learn, and play without damaging the rest of your property.
Clear toxic plants away
Often, dog owners forget to check their garden for poisonous plants (including herbs, fruit, and vegetables). Many plants that are totally safe for humans are potentially deadly for dogs. Do your research and conduct a thorough sweep for any unsafe greenery.
Puppies – especially rottweilers – are incredibly curious, and love to sniff, lick and try to eat many things out in the great outdoors.
- Syringa berry tree/Chinaberry/Seringboom (Melia azerdarach)
- Jimsonweed/Stinkblaar (Datura stramonium)
- Yesterday, Today, and Tommorrow (Brunfelsia spp.)
- Posnettia/Christmas Flower (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
- Pencil Cactus (E. tirucalli)
- Marijuana/Dagga plant (Cannabis satvia)
Harmful fruit for dogs includes avocado, cherries, grapes, and tomatoes. Herbs and vegetables such as asparagus, mushrooms, garlic, and onions should also be avoided.
This list is by no means exhaustive; there are other plants that may pose a threat to your dog’s health. Consult with your vet for more information.
Be careful with pesticides and fertilizers
It’s not only plants to be wary of.
You may be using pesticides, weed killers, mulch, and fertilizers that are toxic for dogs. Do a thorough check of your gardening products and chemicals: Most manufacturers will include directions and warnings regarding usage if animals are nearby.
Alternatively, you may consider using only pet-friendly products. When in doubt, always research and speak with your vet to make sure a product is safe for your dog.
Remove physical hazards from your garden
You may think it common sense to remove sharp objects such as garden tools before getting a puppy, but it’s easy to overlook some other hazards too:
- Store away tools, garden machinery, building materials (such as nails and screw drivers), compost, fertilisers, swimming pool chemicals, and make sure your dog can’t gain access.
- Stagnant water in bird baths can grow harmful algae, so it’s best to remove these. A tall bird bath out of reach of your dog shouldn’t pose a risk.
- Garden waste and leaves should be removed quickly and never left to decompose out in the open. These can become a hotbed for ticks and fleas.
- If you have a compost heap, ensure your dog can’t reach it, and that you’re using tamper-proof bins or a fence.
- Beehives, raw honey sources, wasp nets, and snake holes are obvious hazards with potentially fatally consequences. Have these ethically cleared by a professional as soon as possible.
Shelter from the elements
If your dog is going to be spending a lot of its time out in the garden, it’s important to provide adequate shelter from the sun, rain, and wind.
Investing in a kennel or doghouse will make an excellent refuge from the outside elements when your dog is napping or sleeping. (These luxury dog beds in South Africa might be a good addition, too.)
When dog-proofing your garden, ensure there’s enough shade throughout the day so your dog doesn’t bake in the sun, and always keep the water bowl topped up with fresh water.
Rottweilers need extra care regarding heat and sun exposure, as their black coat makes them prone to overheating.
Safety at the swimming pool
If you have a pool in your garden, ensure its adequately fenced-off and/or covered. Although most dogs eventually learn to swim, you wouldn’t want a puppy falling in unsupervised.
Sometimes, even dogs that can swim have trouble keeping afloat. Dogs that are scared, cold, sick, or tired may find swimming difficult, and in some cases, they can forget how to exit the pool or locate the stairs.
A swimming pool safety cover should be completely closed and solid (not an open mesh or bubble type), and suitable for the weight your dog. Some safety covers are designed to support only young children, which means they won’t hold larger dogs like Rottweilers and Dobermans.
Installing a dog pool ramp or a pool alarm can also be considered when it comes to dog-proofing your garden.
Do a final sweep
Perhaps the best advice is to think like a dog or puppy while walking around every nook and cranny in your garden. Get down to their level and look for anything that might pose a potential threat. This may include:
- Crawl spaces under trees and boulders
- Deep holes
- Climbing opportunities
- Floor-level hazards
- Chewable pipes and electrical wires
- Gaps in the fence
- Small garden ornaments such as ceramic gnomes
- Objects that look edible but aren’t
You’ll be surprised at how thoroughly your dog will explore the garden, so ensure you know it well enough before you let them loose. Once you’re satisfied with its safety, let your dog explore!
Keep tabs on their activity and adjust your garden area to fit with what your dog is doing. As long as you regularly monitor your pet’s activity, you’ll quickly learn to spot any potential problems.