Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Gardening with Dogs



Hello fellow readers,

We have a few garden diggers out there despite the freezing temps!  A few “teenage” puppies that is – Keswick of Stillwater and Dulcie of Basking Ridge to be specific. Regal names these digger dogs have!

According to the Humane Society, training not to dig is the best option.  They suggest the command “no dig” and divert their attention to fetching or a squeaky toy. Of course keep them exercised as a tired dog makes for a well-trained dog.

There are certain breeds such as terrier, dachshund and others bred to hunt burrowing animals with digging instincts you cannot break. Some suggest setting up a doggy sandbox to keep them out of the garden.  Bury treats or toys and lead them to their box when the dig urge strikes then demonstrate by digging yourself. Warning – this technique may backfire if you have outdoor cats.

Ed from Basking Ridge wrote that digging is half the problem as Dulcie, his 9-month old Lab, also eats the plants that she digs up. Seems blue fescue is one of her favored plants likely because they are an evergreen ornamental grass – hence viable even in winter. Some dogs love eating grass.  That would Miss Ellie.  Despite efforts to keep her away from ornamental grass mine become topless by fall.  This brings me to the topic of poisonous plants.

The ASPCA has a vast list of toxic and nontoxic plants for dogs, cats and horses which is a good reference. Consideration when choosing plants is important if your pet is oblivious about what’s harmful to eat, but in the world of animals I would think most have the right impulses of what’s not safe.

They say Bitter Apple spray used to train animals not to chew does not harm plants; although I am a bit skeptical as the ingredients include 20 percent isopropanol (essentially rubbing alcohol). I would first try it around plants and maybe spray it on a few to see how it works out.

Good luck! And please send pictures demonstrating to your dog how to dig in the sand box.  The chuckle itself will be worth the effort!

Garden dilemmas?

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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