How to - Gardening Basics

Puppy love

Mary Fran McQuade
Photography by
Jonathan Strug

Introducing Fido to the garden

Learning the language
What else should your new addition learn? “English,” Weston deadpans. “Seriously, take the time to teach your puppy what the words ‘sit' and ‘off' mean. We forget these tiny creatures don't have verbal language, and body language will always outweigh whatever we say.” Combine words with actions by saying the command, pausing two seconds, then using a treat to lure your pup into doing what you want.

And remember, while we may be happy contemplating a gorgeous ‘Star Gazer' lily, young dogs need action. Put plenty of toys in the garden to keep them occupied. (Check with your vet about the safest ones.)

Teething-which occurs between four and seven months, depending on the pup-can make your little darling particularly cranky. Weston recommends soaking a supply of washcloths in broth or water and keeping them in the freezer. Gnawing on those will help prevent your puppy from wrapping her jaws around your Japanese maple.

For older pups, “I'm a really big fan of stuffed bones,” says Weston. Get the big, white, sterilized ones that pet stores sell, then pack in some canned dog food, peanut butter or soft cheese. Store a few in the freezer to have on hand; they'll keep your puppy occupied while you're doing the weeding.

No room with a view
Watching people go by is frustrating for a confined dog. That leads to barking and, worse, aggression. Never tie a dog up outside, and don't leave him alone where he can see people through a fence. When your four-legged friend is out, you should be out, too, if it's for anything but a short period of time. If he starts barking, distract him. Reward him with a treat when he doesn't bark at passersby.

Burn off that energy
Keep in mind every trainer's motto: “A tired dog is a good dog.” Don't let your pup work out all her energy in your garden. Regular walks are vital (short and frequent for young pups, longer for older ones). Controlled doggy play groups, obedience training and learning tricks can all help tire lively canine youngsters. Mental workouts are as valuable as physical ones.

A final word: patience. Dogs start to catch on at six to eight months, but they're still learning how to behave appropriately. Every dog is different, and a lot depends on how much you work with your pup. “Think of yourself as a benevolent dictator,” says Weston. “You run the place, you have rules and there are consequences for unacceptable behaviour.” But don't physically punish them; send them to their crates.

The reward: a lifetime of outdoor pleasure for you and your pet.

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