Friday, August 1, 2014

Dog's and Garden's Don't Mix

Two things I enjoy very much are my dogs and my garden. I have a small Shiatsu and a mid size Australian Husky. Sometimes, I think the dogs enjoy the garden more than I do. Add a little fuel to the fire and they really get out of hand when my neighbor lets her dog out to play. You can't really blame the dogs though. I willingly started my little vegetable garden along the fence line that connects the two properties. So, here come the dogs and there goes the garden.

Dogs are naturally drawn to plants. They are more cool and comfortable to lie on than the cement porch. Digging in the dirt is an instinctual necessity. Once a comfortable niche in the garden is created by your dog it will be nearly impossible to teach him to "stay out". I've researched and tried several options to save my sanity and my vegetables.

The best, most realistic option is to build a fence around the garden. This won't be as cumbersome as it sounds. Supplies can be found for a reasonable price at most hardware or home improvement stores. You will need to purchase several feet of fencing wire that will be high enough to keep the dog from jumping over it. Wooden posts will be needed to attach the wire, and post nails to secure the wire to the posts. Choose natural, untreated posts to avoid possible chemical reaction with the vegetables. Place the posts in all four corners of the garden. If needed you can place additional posts evenly spaced between the corner posts. Posts should be buried at least two to three feet into the ground. The fencing wire should be buried no less than one foot into the ground. Wrap fencing wire around posts and secure with post nails.

There are certain natural remedies that can be placed in or around the garden. Dogs are repelled by the odor and tend to back away. Some suggested items are ammonia, moth balls, black pepper, red pepper and even vinegar. These are initially inexpensive options. Keep in mind though that every time it pours rain you are more than likely going to need to redistribute the chemicals. It could become costly at some point.

Another option is to place chicken wire directly on the bottom of the garden. The feel of the wire on the little puppy paws is reported to be uncomfortable for the dog. I tried this option myself and had no success. My dogs didn't seem to be detoured by the wire at all. In addition, I had a very hard time removing dead plants from the garden in the fall. They were all tangled up in wire.

Lawn and Garden stores carry chemical items that can be placed around gardens. They generally come in granular form and must be replaced every three months. Moth balls can also be used in this format. I don't recommend this option. Any chemical interaction with a vegetable garden can be an unnecessary risk.

The final option is either an electric, or an ultrasonic repellant. The electric option works by emitting an electronic shock to your dog once he crosses a specified boundary. Boundaries are set by wires buried beneath the ground, and a dog collar. When the two items come within a few feet of each other a shock is released. The ultrasound option releases a sound burst which can not be heard by the human ear. The remote like device can be used within 15 feet of the animal. Both of these options can be a little costly, and are advertised to be safe for your pet. Many people find them to be offensive and too inhumane to use on their beloved family member.

Gardening can be a relaxing hobby. It can also be a lot of work and time consuming. Getting rid of my dogs will never be an option. I will always do whatever I can to make sure my dogs and my garden coincide in harmony. Otherwise, the dog beats out the garden every time

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