How to Dog Proof a Yard

Fenced yard for dogs
Fenced yard for dogs (Image: Angela Tague)

Once you’ve chosen to make a dog the new family pet, it’s time to think about dog-proofing your yard. Keeping your pet safe, and your yard intact, is simple with a few modifications. Dog-proofing your yard will keep your dog from running at large and destroying your flowers and plants, and you may avoid costly vet bills from illness or injury to your pet.

Things You'll Need

  • Fencing supplies
  • Shovel
  • Chicken wire

Walk the perimeter of your yard. Do the walk before you bring home the new dog. If you don’t have a fence in the yard, consider fencing the yard. This will keep your dog at home and avoid impoundment if he is found running loose. A fence will also keep him out of the road and away from pedestrians. Check existing fences for loose boards, gaps and uneven areas. Look for holes dug under the fence, where a dog could escape. Repair the fence and fill in the holes to make the fence secure.

Remove any sharp objects from the yard. Look for old car parts, broken lawn tables and chairs. Remove any small objects that could be ingested by accident. This may include small children’s toys, gardening tools and rocks.

Move any breakable lawn ornaments to an area of the yard that will not be accessible by the dog. Secure any bird baths or bird feeders so your dog can’t knock them over.

Dig out any hazardous plants. Many types of plants are toxic to dogs, including poinsettias, orange day lilies and tulips. Ferns, holly and even ivy plants can also be harmful to dogs. Relocate these plants to a part of the yard not accessible by the dog. Place a small fence around garden areas, or relocate them altogether. Do not plant tomatoes or onions in a garden accessible to dogs. These plants are toxic to dogs.

Bury chicken wire under the ground in areas where the dog may, or has started to, dig. A dog will stop digging if he feels the chicken wire on his claws.

Remove or enclose any ponds, deep fountains or other bodies of water that could pose a drowning hazard for small or young puppies. Place a small fence around ornamental ponds, or fence off larger bodies of water for safety.

Tips & Warnings

  • The first time you allow your new pet to go into the yard, monitor his movements. Watch to make sure he doesn’t find a gap in the fence or a new place to dig. Correct his negative behaviors early on so that they won’t continue.
  • Never tie a dog out on a rope. This can become a choking or strangling hazard. Use a plastic-covered steel cord tie-out, since it can’t tangle like rope or chain. Never tie out a dog on any type of tie-out near a table or chair. This may become a hanging hazard if the dog climbs the furniture and then falls off.

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