The weather is warm, and the backyard beckons. Your dog is probably just as eager as you are to enjoy time outside.
But although your pal may be ready for a romp through the yard and a roll in the grass, it’s up to you to make sure your yard is just as ready. It’s time to think like the parent of a very active toddler and create a dog-friendly backyard.
A Backyard Safety Checklist
Before you let your dog loose in your fenced-in yard, it’s important to consider any potential hazards. Check for these common threats:
• Fences Most of us rely on some type of metal or wooden wall to keep our dogs from roaming, but make sure the material you’ve chosen to construct your fence includes no sharp edges or splinters. Also, put your dog in a breakaway collar so that, if she gets tangled up, she can free herself with a tug or two. This is also extra insurance for those of you with jumpers who aim to hurdle over fences. (Some agile dogs can leap to the top, but are unable to clear the tall posts when their collars get stuck.) You’ll finally want to survey the fence for loose boards and other types of damage that might have occurred during the winter months.
• Chemicals Many commercial fertilizers and weed killers are now safe for animals, provided the manufacturer’s instructions are followed -- but others can cause illness. Beware of rodent and insect repellants. Read the label on each package before using a chemical product in your yard, and consider organic methods when possible. Keep your veterinarian’s number readily available in case of poisoning or call the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.
• Plants Some of gardeners’ most beloved flowers and bushes, including tulip and daffodil bulbs, are harmful when ingested by dogs. Research before planting.
• Pools/hot tubs Dogs love to take a plunge, but sometimes the high walls of these swimming holes are too high for them to climb out safely. Always make sure to cover or fence in your water spots.
• Lack of shade Your dog will need plenty of shade and water to keep from overheating on warm days.
• People food and beverages Take time to think about your dog when you host backyard cookouts and parties. It can be more difficult to police drinks and food when guests leave cups and plates underneath lawn chairs and the like. Make sure your dog doesn’t have access to alcoholic beverages and harmful foods such as chocolate, raisins and grapes, advises the ASPCA.
Consider These Alternatives If you are concerned about your dog spending unsupervised time in your yard, consider using a dog run where he can safely romp. A toddler’s plastic play area might work for smaller dogs and has the advantage of portability.
If you feel that your dog is safe in your yard and you are worried about your flowers, consider chicken wire. Fencing your flowers with chicken wire offers a nearly invisible force field that will deter the most determined doe or Dachshund.
Ticked off the checklist? Then it’s time to relax and enjoy some yard time with your best friend.