Teach Your Dog Not to Eliminate in Your Garden

According to Cheryl Smith, author of Dog Friendly Gardens, Garden Friendly Dogs (Dogwise), you have two choices. Choice #1: Teach your dog to potty in a specific place in the yard. In other words, create an outdoor bathroom for your dog, away from the garden.

Smith says you can use wood chips for the potty spot, which are inexpensive and readily available. "And they smell nice too," she adds. Well, that’s until they become well used. But then they begin disintegrate, and you can add more.

If you have a male dog, you can make the place more appealing by adding a vertical target. That’s any male dog’s dream. If you don’t happen to have a tree stump or a fire hydrant handy, be creative. Use a two-by-four and pound it into the ground. When it becomes too well-marked, simply replace with another.

Smith says the size of the toilet area can vary, depending on your available space and, most important, the size of a dog. For a midsize dog or larger, plan on spreading the chips over a four foot by five or six foot area. For a small dog, you can cut the plan by about a foot.

Begin by taking your dog to that special spot on a leash, and reward her for doing her business, just as you would if she were still a puppy. Eventually, you can tell your dog "Go to your toilet," and take her there off a leash. At first, be sure to supervise to make sure she goes where she’s supposed to go.

Of course, location is important. The toilet should be away from the garden, but still close to the door-so if the dog feels a sense of urgency, she’ll make it to her toilet.

Choice #2: Teach your dog boundary training. Use edging, fencing, decorative stones or some type of demarcation around the periphery of the garden, so the dog understands there is a boundary.

Smith says, "Teach your dog not to cross the boundary by putting her on a leash. If she crosses over, say, ‘Oh, no-this is horrible.’ And act very dramatic. Act like you’re Jack Nicholson, you know, just a little over the top. When your dog then steps back on the right side of the boundary, praise your dog. Repeat this over and over before you try it without the leash. The first few times your dog is out in the yard without the leash, be sure to supervise."

Smith concedes neither technique is perfect. "If you put in the time and the training, I’d say they’re both about 90 percent effective." But 90 percent will save your garden.