Puppy proofing your garden is key because introducing your puppy to your garden or yard is both equally an equally amazing and terrifying experience. This is especially true when you realise just how many things can go wrong as your puppy joyfully bounds through your carefully maintained lawn! The good news is puppy proofing your garden is relatively straightforward, and you can make your garden safe for your new puppy in just a few steps.
1. Get a puppy play pen
Ok first things first – this is an absolute must-have when puppy proofing your garden.
If you first introduce a puppy to your garden without any boundaries whatsoever, they will quickly route out any and all escape routes! Not only that, but you will have to watch them like a hawk to make sure that they aren’t digging at, or eating, what they should not!
You can easily prevent this by getting your puppy a relatively inexpensive playpen, like this one on Amazon.
Not only do they help you control how your puppy gets introduced to your garden, but they are also brilliant for training your puppy to do their business in certain areas of the garden. A must have if you don’t want to live a life of avoiding poop in random areas of your lawn!
On a side-note these are also absolutely fab if you ever end up going camping with your dog as they help to keep your pooch secure around your tent area while you relax!
Related article: New puppy checklist – everything you’ll need
2. Secure your fences and boundaries
The next step to puppy proofing your garden is to make sure that all of the boundaries are properly closed off. This means:
- Checking for any obvious gaps in hedges or fences
- Making sure that gates are close properly (and don’t stick on their latches)
- Looking to see if there are any “crawl” spaces where your puppy could get trapped (e.g. down the side of a garage)
If you’ve done an initial sweep and found small holes or gaps underneath your fences, you can look at blocking these off with garden ornaments, or by planting hard-wearing shrubs.
Remember if a hedgehog or cat can crawl somewhere, your puppy probably will as well!
For crawl spaces, I recommend placing large items, like storage boxes, there as a temporary barrier. Remember that as your dog gets older (and bigger) these things become less of a problem, so permanent solutions aren’t always the best.
3. Cover water areas
This step to puppy proofing your garden hopefully goes without saying, but if you do have any ponds or water areas it is best to cover them up with a plastic or metal grid, like this grid on Amazon.
Try to avoid using netting or fabric covers as your pooch is likely to either get tangled up in the water or just fall in.
Not only is this important for the safety of your dog, but it helps to protect your ponds or fountains from adventurous puppies! Not only that, but it stops your dog from looking like a swamp monster!
4. Keep an eye on poisonous plants
In British gardens there aren’t that many animals that can harm dogs, but there are certainly plants that can. Harmful plants to look out for when puppy proofing your garden include:
- Tomato plants
- Lupins and Foxgloves
- Azaleas and Rhododendrons
Now, if your garden is full of these types of plants you have two choices:
- Remove them from your garden
- Create a barrier between your dog and the plants
Don’t assume that you can just watch your puppy at all times in your garden. Don’t forget gardens get dark, and you may not always want to accompany your pooch to their toilet in the rain!
If you’re not sure about the plants in your garden, or you just don’t want your puppy to dig up your prize roses, again look at step one and buy a puppy pen (I did say it was a must have!).
Another, longer term option is to install raised beds and borders. Be warned though, that while these things may give your puppy a visual clue not to go there, almost every dog (unless it’s tiny) can jump higher than you think!
5. Get rid of muddy areas
A puppy proof garden is not a puppy proof garden until there are no muddy areas left! This is because, like a duck to water, your dog will be drawn to any muddy patch or area of open soil.
Some gardeners like to have garden beds full of annuals that bloom in summer and die in winter. I’m sad to say you’ll have to reconsider your garden design!
Dogs – especially cockapoos – love to dig, whether that’s to hide things or just for fun. As a result, you’ll need to plant up your open beds with more evergreens, and you’ll need to plant hard-wearing grass seed in any lawn patches.
6. Get slugs under control
Slugs are like dog kryptonyte. Not only do they get everywhere, but if a dog eats one then they can get something called Lungworm.
Lungworm is a parasitic worm that can live in an infected dog’s heart and cause all sorts of serious issues and problems.
Not all slugs (or snails) are infected by lungworm parasites, but some are. This means that the likelihood of getting infected increases with the more slugs and snails eaten.
The best way to prevent this is to get rid of as many slugs and snails as you can. Avoid using pellets, as these too can be harmful if your dog ends up eating them instead of the slug!
Instead, try using beer traps like this inexpensive trap on Amazon, that help to rid your garden of slugs without the use of chemicals.
Related article: Best Eco Products for Dogs
7. Fill your garden with puppy toys
This one is a non-negotiable. If you want to puppy proof your garden effectively, you need to show your pooch what is, and what isn’t acceptable to play with!
So, make sure that you always provide your puppy with appropriate toys to play around with in the garden. This really helps to keep their attention and prevent any unwanted behaviours. This may include:
- Balls to play catch and fetch with
- Tug ropes
- Puzzle toys (pretty much all Nina Ottoson puzzle toys have proved a hit with our cockapoo)
- Tunnels and obstacles (like hoops and seesaws)
One important thing to remember is to always tidy away your dog’s toys after they are used. If you leave them out then slugs and snails will crawl all over them – any we don’t want that!
Puppy proofing your garden checklist
- Make sure you get a puppy playpen to introduce your puppy to the garden gradually
- Close up any gaps or holes in your fences and keep gates closed
- Get rid of, or securely prevent access to, any poisonous plants.
- Plant up muddy areas to prevent digging
- Put out beer traps to get rid of slugs and snails
- Make sure there are plenty of appropriate toys to keep your dog’s attention.
Related article: New puppy checklist – everything you’ll need
My top 4 garden toys for dogs that help to puppy proof your garden
Trixie Dog Activity Turn Around
This brilliant puzzle toy is a great way to keep your puppy entertained while you’re watering your plants. The idea behind it is your dog has to paw at the tubes to get them to spin around and it has varying difficulty levels.
Snuffle Feeding Mat
If your pup likes to sniff out its food then look no further. This is a really well-made snuffle mat, that will help to teach your pooch that rewards are best found in the mat rather than your plant beds!
Pop-up play tunnel
This is an absolute no-brainer. Sure it might be for kids, but our dog absolutely loved this when he was a puppy, and would spend literally hours jumping on it and running through it. The tunnel really comes into its own, though, when you chuck a ball in it (and watch as your pup has the time of his life!)
Chuckit Ultra Balls
Yes these may look like they are just balls, but they are super durable and a best seller on Amazon for a reason! Basically, they are pretty much immune to dog chewing and, from personal experience, I can say that ours have lasted years!