Summertime is here and families will be spending a lot more time outside with their dogs. Patios are the perfect place for barbeques and parties, but also dog playdates! If you want to adapt your patio to be dog-friendly, here are some important points to think about.
Plants are essential when creating a beautiful, outdoor patio, but some are very poisonous to dogs. Stay away from Tulips, Lily of the Valley, and Autumn Crocus, just to name a few. Keep expensive flowers up high and vegetable gardens in a raised bed above dog eye-level. Stick to large, safe shrubs and herbs like lavender and mint that act as enrichment for your dog! If the patio smells dog-friendly, they will be more likely to spend time outside enjoying the fresh air.
Make sure your dog knows if he or she is allowed on or off the furniture. If you let your dogs on furniture, use scratch free surfaces and removable covers that can be washed. If you don’t, make sure your dog has a place to rest on the ground. An elevated dog bed makes a comfortable napping area and lets the air flow underneath, cooling them off.
Many dogs cannot last too long outside on a hot day directly in the sun. To prevent them from getting heat stroke, make sure you have ample shade. A kiddie pool is also a great option for large dogs to cool down in. If you have a large pool near the patio, please cover it if you leave your dog on the patio unattended, especially if they don’t know how to swim.
If you have grass near your patio, make sure to designate an area for the dogs to relieve themselves. This way you can walk around freely in the other areas without watching where you step. If your area is only cement, a small turf area could be a good relief option.
Many balconies don’t have safe railings for dogs. Make sure the gaps are filled in with plexiglass or wire mesh—something to protect dogs from falling off the patio. If your patio is ground-level, an outdoor gate can also be helpful in securing off areas you do not want your dog to get to. If they are left outside alone in the area, make sure they cannot escape or get lost. A pet door could also be another way to extend their freedoms.
Not only do herbs and good smells serve as enrichment, but games also keep dogs busy outside. Try a designated “dig” area in a sandbox or pit to find toys. If you have a bird dog, place a bird feeder up high for the dog to watch the birds come and go. You can get creative with ways to improve their quality of life, which will benefit them mentally and psychologically.
Visit your neighbor’s patio and ask them how they dog-proofed their patio. A dog that is prone to getting into trouble and eating inedible objects may have to have a more regulated environment. You know what your dog is capable of—try to have their health and safety in mind!