I have been asked for my thoughts on this matter by the garden writer in the Irish Times magazine (Home & Design supplement May 21) Here are some of my words: Think carefully about the size and breed traits of your dog and the size of your garden and your time commitments before you get the dog. It has been said that you cannot enjoy a nice garden and a dog. You can if you are prepared to put the work into the dog and the garden. You have to weigh up your passions do you love the garden more than the dog or both in equal measure? A small dog is easier to manage in a small garden. Bigger dogs do more damage and require more play time and exercise.
The best time to train any dog is when it is small and dependent and most likely to want to please you. As it grows it will become more independent and develop selective hearing. Although sometimes this is a survival response to being nagged!
When house training a pup to toilet in the garden it is important that you allow it to relieve itself near the house in the early days as it needs the safety and security of the house before it will venture down the garden. When it does you need to escort it on a long lead or line and show it where you would like it to relieve itself. If necessary putting a border around the area to contain the dog. Or blocking access to other areas.
In order to train a dog how to behave anywhere you have to be with it; do not leave the puppy in the garden unsupervised. If it must be left outside unsupervised build or purchase a dog run. (lots of companies on line).
Before you are allow your dog to enjoy your garden with you exercise it by walking it, playing with it or even better train it. Then give it something give it something to chew or occupy itself like a rolling ball that the dog has to engage with to get the food out, stuffed kongs with mince or cheese pate, which can also be frozen, great for the impending summer. Or a large raw knuckle bone for the dog to gnaw on. Do not allow the dog to bury the bone. Remove it once the dog has moved away from it. It can be dangerous to give a dog cooked bones as this makes them too brittle to be safely ingested. Slug pellets and Cocoa based mulch are toxic to dogs. However Lung worm which is carried by slugs can be fatal, especially to puppies.
Warning : Do not allow a young dog to witness you digging or planting: dogs are incredibly curious and will smell your scent in the soil and dig up what you have ‘buried’ ‘If you have a terrier you will have a digger. I believe that for every normal dog behaviour that is discouraged with a firm ‘No’ command. There must be an alternative ‘yes’ such as providing an alternative digging area. A child’s sandpit is ideal as it is contained. Bury some treats and allow the dog only to dig in this area. If he digs in your area correct him and bring him to his area.If you do not want a dog to engage in normal doggy destructive behaviours, you must either take preventative measure such as barricading areas, containing the dog in a run or providing a suitable alternative occupation.
There is absolutely no benefit to the learning process by scolding the dog after the event. This will create confusion and destroy a dogs trust. Consequently like a teenager it will stop listening altogether and do its own thing without any understanding of your unpredictable rules.You have to actively teach the dog some garden manners and the most effective words are No and Good. So if you correct the dog and he stops and listens, You must reward and praise lavishly and provide an alternative outlet. The most effective tool is prevention.