My best friend is the most loyal, faithful companion known to humans – probably because she isn’t human at all! Gingerbelle is a golden retriever and she’s been with me since she was a mere 7 weeks old. From the day she came home our favorite activity has been playing in the back yard but I quickly discovered that having a new puppy in the backyard was worse than turning my children loose there when they were in their toddler and preschool years.
No matter how much she misbehaves, my feelings about Gingerbelle are similar to the way American actress Helen Hayes felt about her own canines. She was once quoted as saying, “All my dogs have been scamps and thieves and troublemakers and I’ve adored them all.” It’s so true! Despite the frustration of finding my flowerbeds uprooted, gnawed spots in the garden hose, and the beak chewed off the plastic flamingo lawn ornament that formerly sat beneath the birdbath, I couldn’t be angry at her.
Identifying and Eliminating Potential Hazards
However, despite how cute Gingerbelle’s expression at being admonished for her misdeeds was, her safety was our primary concern – especially after a neighbor’s dog fell ill after mistaking fertilizer pellets for dog treats. Even though the poor pooch only ate a small portion and was able to make a full recovery, it was enough to convince our family that some big changes were necessary if we were going to avoid the same fate. Because we weren’t sure where to begin, we asked the veterinarian for advice and also asked for tips on our favorite social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Raising a puppy is a real challenge. There’s no way to keep an eye on them at every moment, and unlike children they’re smaller, squirmier, and can get into more mischief at a younger age. Even keeping Gingerbelle on a leash didn’t help because she quickly chewed through it thus freeing herself to run amok through the unfenced yard. Here are some changes we made to help keep our furry family member safe. If you have similar pet issues, maybe they can help you as well!
- Ditch the Debris. When you go outside for the first time of the day with your dog, walk the perimeter of your yard. Pick up fallen sticks, tree limbs, trash, or any other debris that your dog could mistake for a chew toy. While some sticks from some plants are okay for cutting puppy teeth, others like wisteria vines, Rose of Sharon bushes, and some types of citrus and palm trees are poisonous to animals, especially dogs.
- Supervise Puppy Playtime. It’s impossible to know what your puppy is doing at every minute, which is why a fence comes in handy. While my family lives in a community that doesn’t restrict what type of fencing a person uses, some homeowner’s associations have strict limitations. A sport dog underground fence is a great solution for this, or for people who want to contain their dog to the front yard without installing an unsightly fence.
- Properly Store Non-Toys. Practicing golf in the back yard? Using a spray bottle to deter snails from eating your garden vegetables? Catching some sun and left your bottle of lotion near your chaise lounge? All of these are perfectly reasonable human activities that could potentially cause harm to dogs. Be sure to store items when not in use to prevent puppy from chewing on them.
- Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. Regardless of when you’re outside with your dog but especially in the summertime, be sure your pooch has enough clean, fresh water. If you keep a water dish outside all the time, wipe it out with a wet paper towel every couple of days or better yet, run it through the dishwasher on the sterilization or other hottest setting.
- Grow with Organics. Only use non-toxic, chemical-free pesticides and other gardening products. If your dog gets into plant fertilizer, it could give the poor puppy a terrible tummy ache. Keep the grass cut short to help prevent fleas and ticks from hanging out and waiting for your dog to make an appearance. Gardening centers are starting to offer non-toxic fertilizers made from things like grass clippings and crushed eggshells.
Look Past the Obvious
When you’re looking for ways to keep your dog safe, think outside the box. Even chemicals you spray on plants or on your own body can hurt your dog if they breathe in the fumes. I realized fairly quickly that burying the plants in the ground was like asking for Gingerbelle to dig them up. At the advice of a neighbor I began to do something called container gardening. Not only does my precious pooch stay out of my plants now, but I can now also move the flowerpots into the house during the colder months which saves me from having to buy certain annuals from scratch each spring. The best part is knowing that even if Gingerbelle escapes into the back yard by herself that she’s less likely to find mischief that will harm her overall well-being.
About the Author:
Freelance author Becky James-Muth is allergic to dogs, but that doesn’t stop her family from sharing their home with a golden retriever and a chocolate lab. With help from her family doctor, she’s able to tolerate the pets despite an occasional fit of sneezing. Her family is always looking for the most canine-friendly products which is why they checked out reviews on www.doggyfence.com before investing in a wireless pet containment system. When she’s not working or spending time with her family, Becky enjoys beachcombing, experimenting with new recipes, and meeting up with friends for activities like drinking coffee or shopping for shoes.