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A gorgeous garden loses much of its grace when it is juxtaposed with a dead or dying lawn, so there’s no question that you want your grass to stay green. Yet, doing so when you have a pup on your property isn’t always easy. It’s been mentioned before that dogs can wreak havoc on garden beds, but that’s not the only destruction wrought by a reckless canine.
Dogs love lawns — but lawns don’t necessarily love dogs. Many canine behaviors are devastating on grass, which is much more delicate than many homeowners believe. If you want your dog and your lawn to live peacefully, here are a few tricks to ensuring that everyone (and every plant) is happy and healthy.
Dead Marks the Spot
If you are watering and mowing your lawn properly but there still seems to be yellow or brown spots around your yard, it’s probably because of your dog’s bathroom habits. Dog urine is packed with nitrogen, which is good for grass in moderation — but because dogs tend to pee in the same few spots over and over again, the soil can become saturated with nitrogen, burning the grass to death.
Aside from taking your dog on a walk around the neighborhood every time they need to go number-one, there are a few solutions for this problem:
- Train your dog to pee somewhere else. If you have any unplanted dirt or gravel in your yard, you could try to train your dog to go there. You don’t want your dog to go on any garden beds because it will harm other plants the way it does grass.
- Give your dog a pee post. A pee post is an above-ground structure on which dogs are supposed to relieve themselves. There are dozens of pre-fab pee posts available for purchase (most fire hydrant–shaped), or you can DIY your own in any shape you wish.
- Dilute your dog’s pee. You can follow your pooch around the lawn and dilute their urine using a hose or watering can. You can also research dog food that increases your pup’s thirst, causing them to drink more water and dilute their own pee.
Live Free, Dig Hard
If it ain’t peeing, it’s digging. Dogs dig for a variety of reasons, from genetics (hunting dogs, terriers, and small hounds are bred to dig out quarry) to stress (boredom and anxiety afflict dogs, too). Often, dogs will develop a favorite digging spot, and if that’s in your lawn, you’re likely to have dangerous and unsightly holes in your grass for a long, long time.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to get your dog to stop digging — or at least to stop digging in your grass. As with peeing, the best strategy is to get them to dig somewhere else, like in a designated digging pit filled with sand. You can try to deter them from their old digging grounds by covering the spot with chicken wire or by placing large stones, which are especially useful if your pup is digging around the fence line.
Often, dogs dig as a denning activity, to create a somewhat cool and enclosed bed area outside. Thus, a way to discourage this behavior is to give them an above-ground alternative. Their new spot should be in the shade, underneath a shady tree or a covered patio, and it should have a fan or some other cooling mechanism nearby, like a frozen cooling mat.
If none of these options stop the digging, you might need to take your dog to a training course to break their digging habit. Just like humans’ bad habits, sometimes dogs need professional help.
The Healthier, the Better
Finally, the healthier your lawn is, the better it can withstand the torments of a dog. If you aren’t exactly sure how to water, mow and fertilize your lawn, it might be in your best interest to hire lawn care professionals to do that work for you. Experts like these have the knowledge and experience to keep your lawn as healthy as possible and prevent the damage that dogs can do.
While you’re at it, you should also work on keeping your pooch’s health up. Dehydrated dogs have more concentrated urine, which harms the grass even more. As mentioned before, you can buy food that boosts their thirst, compelling them to drink, but you need to be sure there is enough water around for Fido to lap up. There are auto-refilling water bowls that might be worth your money if you aren’t around to keep your dog hydrated. Similarly, dogs that get frequent exercise and socialization are less likely to take their mental anguish out on your lawn.
A dog belongs with a lawn like white on rice — but you need to make sure the relationship is safe for all parties involved. By taking the right steps to care for the needs of your dog and of your lawn, you’ll be able to enjoy them both.