Tips for Creating a Pet-Friendly Backyard

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You've bought the perfect house for your dog. It has a huge backyard with plenty of room to run. But is it safe for Fido and Fluffy? Before letting your furry friends roam free, make sure you take a look at these tips for creating a pet-friendly backyard.

Secure Fencing and Gating

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Start by escape-proofing the area and making it tough for unwanted outsiders to gain access. You may be surprised to learn that about15% of dogs and cats become lostwithin five years of ownership, and some of those pets are never recovered. Be sure the fence is too tall for dogs to jump over, and create a perimeter of plants and/or rocks to prevent dig-outs. Note — some dogs have a dangerous habit of swallowing smaller rocks, so consider larger sized stones if they are part of your landscaping plan.

Check gates often to ensure clasps are secure. Mend fencing quickly if gaps are large enough to allow curious pets to squeeze out, or other creatures to squeeze in. Pro tip: Think twice before buying an electronic fence. These deliver a mild shock to your pet if they cross the "invisible" line. While they'll keep your dog inside your yard, they won't keep predators out, and your dog will have no way to escape without getting shocked.

No Toxic Material

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Before you plant any flowers or bushes, or if existing plants are in the yard, research them to make sure they're not poisonous to pets. TheHumane Society has compiled a thorough list from A to Z for reference. Be aware that mulch, pesticides, weed killer, and fertilizer can also make your pet sick. If you keep compost or trash bins in the backyard, be sure your pets cannot get into them.

Good Grass For Your Region

Pets can be hard on the grass, so you want to choose ahardy variety that thrives in your climate zone.

In southern regions like Georgia, this means grasses like Bermudagrass and Centipedegrass. In northern and Mid-Atlantic regions such as Washington D.C., you’re better off with a rugged blend of cool-season grasses such as Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass. If you have existing grass that is doing well, understand it will take some extra work to keep it healthy..

Quick Waste Removal

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If your backyard is your pet’s potty, develop a habit of quicklycleaning up after them to avoid an environment that becomes smelly, attracts flies, and attracts germs and parasites. Pet waste contains many types of bacteria that can spread to other animals and humans. Besides, piles of poop and circles of yellow grass are just gross! Creating a sandy or gravel area and training your pets to use that for their business, will make cleanup easier and keep your yard from becoming yuckville. Keep a poop bag dispenser near the potty station to give you an incentive to clean up immediately.

Shade

Trees, umbrellas or other overhead structures can give people and pets alike shady spots to escape the hot sun. It’s important pets not become overheated when outdoors, and shade is crucial for their comfort and protection.

Water Safety

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If you have a pond, fountain, birdbath, swimming pool or simply keep dishes with drinking water outside for pets, keep the water clean to avoid mosquito breeding or mold growth in warm weather. Also, make sure pets with an inclination to climb into ponds or pools can easily get back out. Unsupervised outdoor time could turn tragic without pet-friendly steps or barriers.

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No Sharp Edging

Finally, lacerations are a top cause of injury to pets. Walk the entire area and remove any sharp landscape edging, broken tree stumps, garden stakes or jagged fencing hardware that could be hazardous. Curious cats and playful pups need you to watch their steps and anticipate every pitfall they may encounter.