4 ways to turn your garden into a sensory space for your dog

4 ways to turn your garden into a sensory space for your dog

Guest Blog by Nicky Roeber, Wyevale Garden Centres

Dogs love to be outside, and giving them the perfect sensory space can keep them occupied for hours on end. In this article, Nicky Roeber, Online Horticultural Expert at Wyevale Garden Centres, looks at some of the best ways you can turn your garden into a pooch’s paradise.

Any dog owner will know how much their pet loves to spend time in the garden. Whether they’re rolling in the leaves, snuffling around the flowerbeds, or digging up the lawns, they always look like they’re having a ball when they’re outside.

Because dogs like to explore using all of their senses, creating an outdoor space that appeals to them can give them a lot to enjoy. And, with a few well thought out additions, it’s easy to turn your garden into a sensory sanctuary for your furry friend. Read on to find out more.

1. Give them something to chew on

Dog in bluebells

You might not have realised it, but dogs often eat plants to self-medicate. While you might have written this off as some quirky behaviour by your pet, the truth is that they actively seek out edible plants to treat ailments and moods.

By planting some edible plants around your garden, you can give your dog something to chew on that might actually be just what they were looking for. For example, chamomile is great for anxiety and stomach upsets, meadowsweet can be munched on to relieve digestive problems, and plantain works a charm for dogs with gastric irritation.

2. Add some safe scents

Dog with white and purple flowers

I’ve just mentioned that dogs often like to chew on certain species of plant, but they also love to explore outdoor spaces by scent, too. If you go ahead and add some plants, such as camellias, fuchsias, and petunias, that give off a really stimulating smell, you can make their snuffling experience a whole lot more interesting.

However, before you plant any new species, you need to be sure that they aren’t poisonous to your pet. There are quite a few flowers and plants that don’t agree with dogs so it’s best to be extra cautious — Dog’s Trust have an in-depth factsheet you can print for a full list of what to avoid.

3. Surround them with interesting textures

Dog rolling around in grassA good sensory space will offer ways to keep your dog’s mind stimulated and sharp, and surrounding them with a huge variety of textures is a great way of doing just that. Adding a few textures, such as gravel pathways, bark fencing, or grassy areas, allows them to experience a variety of exciting textures every time they go outside.

You could even create textured features that allow for a lot of interaction and play. A shallow pool for them to paddle in or a sandy area for them to dig will give them hours of fun and encourage them to focus their energy away from investigating your flower beds.

4. Stimulate their hearing with sounds

Dog sitting on grassDogs have amazing hearing and are able to pick up on noises that might pass us by. Play up to this in your sensory garden by adding features that make soothing sounds to keep them calm and relaxed. Try hanging up a wind chime on a branch, growing whispering grasses, or setting up a trickling water feature to create a soundscape that your dog will love.

If your dog is easily disturbed or stressed by loud noises nearby, putting up a high fence or wall and covering it with climbers is a good way of soaking up decibels and making the sound level more manageable. Adding dividers or trellises with climbing plants is another effective way of masking the hum of a busy road or the clatter of a building site.

Take my four tips on board and you will be able to create a sensory space for your furry friend that will give them countless hours of enjoyment.

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