Look at your yard through your dogs eyes. Instead of worrying about what might be dangerous for them in there, let’s turn our yards into a place to enrich their lives!
Sight #1 Experiment with things to look at. Different sized rocks. Logs laying sideways. Ramps and stairs to change levels. A soakwell on its side as a tunnel. Move things around. Try statues. My dogs loved Bali lions in other peoples yards, but got really territorial over them in our yard!
Sight #2 Have varying heights so they can look up at things, straight at things, down on things, and also under things. Mine love being up high. They get overexcited and bark at tug of war toys attached to overhead beams, but happily play with them when attached to the wall or ground.
Sound #1 Try things that make noise in a breeze, like wind chimes, bamboo, some tall and stiff grasses. Have running water on a timer so it doesn’t become background noise.
Sound #2 Have things they can make noise with. Plastic water bottles or buckets half full of water, sand, sticks, or bottle caps. Give them things they’re allowed to knock over and roll around. Life’s not all about squeaky toys!
Touch #1 Have things they can rub against. Broom heads or rough door mats attached to the wall are a really good back scratcher. Novel surfaces are a great idea. I have a path of woodchips with flat stepping stones throughout. Linka likes the woodchips and Bosco likes the pavers!
Touch #2 Fill a shell pool with sand, pet safe mulch, woodchips, water, balls, hay, sticks, leaves, gumnuts or pinecones. You can do a smaller version with a kitty litter tray, or a bigger version with a sand pit.
Taste #1 Planting a bunch of pet safe plants means they can snuffle around and safely take nibbles out of them. You can plant medicinal herbs like wheatgrass, catnip, peppermint, valerian, or St John’s Wort and let them self select as needed. Hide treats in there!
Taste #2 I like to try different foods on different textures. My dogs are either great actors, or haven’t figured out it’s me who smears peanut butter on their climbing tyres and sprinkles kibble around and under the ferns. They’re excited every time they find it!
Smell #1 Plant dog safe scented plants like basil, rosemary, or thyme. Space them out around the yard so no one area is too overwhelming. You can also use stinky but safe plants as barriers to areas that are not for dogs like lavender.
Smell #2 Bring in weird and wonderful things for them to smell to keep things interesting. Mine love seaweed, leaves and sticks from parks, feathers I find, pinecones, gumnuts, branches, and grass cuttings.
Design the sensory garden with your dog in mind. Observe the things they enjoy and give them opportunities to do them. Doesn’t need to be the whole yard!
Download the printable infographic here!
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Canine Mobility Specialist