How to create a sensory garden for your dog
A dog is never happier than when they are outdoors. Adding sensory features to your garden can help keep your dog fit and active, and can even help to reduce separation anxiety. We’ve spoken to Nicky Roeber, Online Horticultural Expert at Wyevale Garden Centres, who gave us his top tips for creating a stimulating, exciting sensory garden which will keep your furry friend active and entertained.
Let them dig
It’s no secret that our canine companions love to dig. Although it may seem a nuisance when your dog digs up the flowerbed, digging is a natural activity that dogs will do instinctively to relieve stress and burn off excess energy — you can read more about why dogs feel the urge to dig in this guide at The Spruce.
A specially designated digging area would be a great addition to a sensory garden, especially in smaller spaces where dogs might have less room to run around. To create a digging area, simply fill a raised border or bed, or even a children’s sandpit, with soil or compost. Just make sure to choose a dog-friendly soil, as some varieties contain cocoa-bean mulch which, like the chocolate it produces, is poisonous to dogs.
Make use of scent
A highly scented garden is a sensory wonderland for dogs, and not to mention their human companions. Dogs have an unparalleled sense of smell — Animal Planet says that their noses are over 1,000 times keener than ours — so even plants with a subtle scent will a provide a source of fascinating scents for your dog.
Try planting flowers with complex or unusual scents to make the most of your canine companion’s powerful nose, like heliotropes, azaleas or sweet alyssums. Don’t forget about non-floral scents, either — try bark shavings, leaf mulch or cut grass.
It’s worth including some edible plants and herbs, too, as your dog can self-select plants to suit certain moods, and even self-medicate for different ailments and illnesses.
Make sure to choose carefully when buying plants for your furry friend, as some can be potentially dangerous if eaten — you can find this information on the plant’s label. Common varieties like oriental lilies, laburnums and hydrangeas can all upset your dog’s stomach.
Plant a playground
Plants can also be used to create fun physical playthings for your dog. Long ornamental grasses, like fountain grass or Chinese silver grass, are great fun for hiding and playing in, and they’re hardy and easy to maintain.
Provide a place to splash
A paddling pool is a great seasonal addition to a sensory garden. Hot weather can be particularly treacherous for dogs, as we discussed in this article on heatstroke, so a paddling pool can be especially helpful when it comes to keeping dogs cool in the summer. Just remember that your dog should always be fully supervised when using a paddling pool.
If you haven’t quite got room for a paddling pool, a smaller water feature like a fountain will still provide your dog with a source of interesting scents and sounds.
Let your dog decide
Not sure which plants and flowers your four-legged friend is likely to enjoy? Dogs are welcome at Wyevale Garden Centres across the UK, so you can bring your pet with you and see which scents and plants they find most appealing.
Take these tips onboard, and before long you’ll be sharing your sensory garden with a happier and blissfully relaxed furry friend!