How to make a sensory garden for your dog

12 APRIL 2019

Battersea’s volunteers and staff work hard across our three centres to make every dog’s stay with us as enriching as possible, and this includes creating dog-friendly sensory gardens.

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Plain patches of grass aren’t the most exciting places for dogs, they benefit greatly from enriching and stimulating natural environments, just like we do.

A bit of dog-friendly landscaping can help decrease boredom and encourage natural behaviours, so here are a few simple things you can do to set off their senses.

GETTING STARTED

The first thing you need to do is check your boundaries. Make sure that all the fencing surrounding your garden is intact and secure. Check where foxes could have dug underneath a fence where your dog could slip out.

As you’ll be encouraging your dog to spend more time outside interacting with nature, you will also want to check that your garden doesn’t already contain any plants which are harmful to dogs.

Sensory garden

CALMING WITH LAVENDAR AND ROSEMARY

Rosemary and lavender are two potent plants that your dog will love to sniff, and their aromas will leave them feeling zen. Their woody, robust structure makes them hard-wearing so perfect for any dog that likes to zoom around in your garden.

On top of that, they grow all year round in poor soil and survive well in a draught. You will also enjoy their scent and all the beautiful insects they will bring to your garden.

ENERGISING WITH MINT AND LEMON BALM

When your dog is in need of a little pick-me-up, they’ll enjoy sniffing and chewing on mint or lemon balm. In moderation, these are both said to aid your dog’s digestion too! They will enjoy the herbs more when planted in clumps, so avoiding mixing as you could send your dog into a sensory overload!

Easy to grow, these plants will die back in winter but they are invasive so you may want to plant them in a sunken plant pot to keep them under control. There is one species of mint, English pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) which is known to be toxic to dogs, so avoid this.

Sensory garden

NATURAL AGILITY

If you have an active dog that likes to jump and climb, then natural agility may be right up their street. Wooden stumps can be perfect for this, and your dog may also enjoy the nice woody aroma.

You can often source wood for free from a Tree Surgeon, so it doesn’t have to cost you anything. Ensure that the tree species is safe for dogs and free from disease before you bring it into your garden.

WHEATGRASS

Wheatgrass is super simple to grow and packed full of nutrients. It’s been shown to help with dog digestion and help boost energy levels. Lots of dogs can’t help but have a munch when they find it!

It can be grown in seed trays during the winter and then planted in the ground in the summer, and it loves a nice bright spot in the garden.

Sensory garden

PANSIES

Dogs can’t see the same spectrum of colours like us, but they are able to see blues and yellows. Pansies commonly come in these colours, are safe for dogs and grown all year round, so planting them can provide a bit of visual stimulation.

Remember, pansies are rather delicate, so be prepared for your dog to potentially destroy them!

Sensory garden

SAND PIT

Lots of dogs love to dig, so a sand pit can be a great solution and may discourage them from digging up your actual garden. If you decide to make your own doggie sand pit there are a few things to remember: Use soft, children’s play sand and avoid sharp builders’ sand, a weed supressing membrane will keep unwanted growth at bay and the pit will need proper drainage.

You will also want to bear in mind that your dog may use the sand pit as a toilet too, so make sure it is for your dog only and cleaned regularly.

Get in touch on our social channels and let us know how you’re getting on with your sensory garden!

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