If your four-legged friend is lucky enough to have a yard to call his own, make sure you prep the space appropriately to keep him safe, healthy and happy. Use this checklist to give him a real reason to wag that tail!

  1. Note which flowers, trees and bushes are in the immediate vicinity and ensure they are pet-friendly. Be aware that certain varieties of plants, such as azaleas, lilies, oleander and elephant ears, for instance, are toxic, causing issues that can range from upset stomach to even death in some cases. Choose carefully when landscaping and avoid plants that appear on compiled warning lists such as the one provided by the ASPCA.
  2. Be sure to make the yard a space where Fido actually enjoys spending time. Provide engaging toys and other diversions to keep him occupied. It’s also important to make it comfortable. A shaded area with a place for a fresh bowl of water will keep your buddy from overheating on those hot summer days. Even in cooler temps, exposure to the sun can be brutal, so if the yard isn’t naturally shaded with trees, give him the perfect covered spot to relax and chill out.
  3. Carefully inspect the label on your lawn fertilizer to look for warnings, find specific application instructions and discover the recommended waiting periods before pets (and children!) can safely roam on treated grass. There are plenty of EPA-certified, organic fertilizers with no additives available on the market, which are always a good option. Similarly, there are safe methods of protecting your pet from pests like fleas and ticks. Check out the Natural Resources Defense Council’s directory of products and their potential risk levels for more details.
  4. Discreetly store waste disposal bags on your front porch or back patio so they are always handy for picking up after your pet. If your pup is still in the training stages, designate a specific grassed area of the yard for his use, or research ways to create a simple, DIY potty spot comprised of screening, sand pebbles and some pea gravel.
  5. Regularly evaluate the condition of any fencing around the yard. A fence does more than just denote your property line, it also serves as a means of keeping your pet close to home and out of potential danger. Traffic, passersby, wildlife – these are all elements that exist in a typical neighborhood. In order to be effective, a fence has to be kept in good repair so it can serve its purpose of making your yard a safe haven for even your furriest of family members.

These handy tips for making your yard as dog-friendly as possible are a great start in repaying the favor to your most loyal pal. Return some of that love you get unconditionally every day by giving him a place he’s happy to call home.