Good doggie

Can you have both a dog and a garden? Or do you believe the saying, "get a dog, and that's the end of gardening?"

While a lively and exuberant dog can quickly destroy the beauty of a garden, with some thought and planning, you can have both a pet and an enjoyable outdoor space.

First and foremost is some obedience training. If your dog is totally out of control, nothing I say here will help. If a dog can learn to stay off the sofa, it can learn that certain parts of your yard are off limits. Spend some time training your dog, getting professional help if necessary, instead of surrendering your entire landscape.

Understand your dog's personality, including the instincts of its breed. For example, terriers are hunters and diggers of small prey, spaniels and retrievers love water, sled dogs will dig down to make a cool place in which to lie, and other dogs are guards, chasers or herders.

Training will not rid the dog of its instincts, but you can help them control it, though sometimes you may just have to accommodate the instinct. The schnauzer at our house faithfully trots around the boundaries of the property each morning. There is no point in trying to train him out of this instinct, so we understand that he needs his narrow path next to the fence.

To help keep dogs in certain areas and out of others, try some of these ideas:

Use raised beds for vegetables. It is easier to train dogs to stay out of these obvious places. At ground level, plant things, such as flowers, densely. They will be less inviting for your dog to invade, plus it helps to control weeds and conserves water. You might also consider using more containers for your ornamentals.

Delineate areas that are off limits with low shrubs, low fencing or pieces of driftwood. These provide more of a mental barrier than a physical one, but with some training that may be all that's needed.

Provide an area where dogs may play. Plant it with tough grass and provide an area where they may dig or do whatever they like to do. Just keep it contained to that designated space. If necessary, put sharp gravel or broken filbert shells where you don't want them to go.

Plan for and train your dog to use a designated elimination area, preferably on gravel or wood chips, which helps keep those yellow spots off your lawn.

If you work and your dog is home alone all day, give some thought to what he'll do for entertainment. Dogs get bored easily, and that's when they behave in displeasing ways, including barking. Don't expect him to remember all the rules you've taught him if you let him have the run of the yard while you're gone.

A dog run, or a deck with sides, will let your pet move around but stay out of trouble. Provide him with toys, water and shelter from rain or hot sun. Perhaps most important, play with him or take him for a walk when you get home. Lots of undesirable behaviors in dogs result from lack of exercise and attention. Just like people.

Coming up: Cliff Bennett of Chet's Greenhouse in Grants Pass will teach a class about plant varieties that bloom in late winter or early spring. The class will meet from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, March 29, at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, 569 Hanley Road in Central Point. The cost is $5. Call 541-776-7371 for information.

Carol Oneal is a past president of the OSU Jackson County Master Gardeners Association. She can be reached via email at

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