The festive season is coming up, and many of us will be having people over to visit. Sometimes, these visits will be extended stays. You may have relatives over for a few days, or see friends who live far away and need to stay overnight.

So what happens if any of your guests are averse to dogs? Unfortunately, your beloved pets are going to have to be kept away from your visitors if you want to be a good host.

It might seem cruel at first to suggest that you keep them outside for the duration of your guests’ stay, but with a little preparation you can make your garden a wonderful place for your dogs to inhabit.

Plants

Check first of all that none of the plants in your garden are poisonous to dogs. There are numerous lists online, and you might be surprised at the fairly common plants that can be fatal to dogs if eaten.

Daffodil bulbs, jimson weed, mother-in-law’s tongue, narcissus and onions can all be fatal to dogs, and other common plants such as foxgloves or elderberries can give your dog nasty stomach upsets.

That said, there are a number of plants that are incredibly beneficial to dogs. Plants such as barley grass and rose hips provide your dog with essential nutrients. Your dog should self-select these plants when they feel like they need the nutrients the vegetation provides.

Other useful plants include St John’s wort, which acts as a sedative and a pain reliever, and hops. The latter calms the mind, and is therefore often selected by hyperactive, stressed dogs.

Behaviour

There are a few habits your dogs might have that can be a real problem in the garden. Unfortunately, most of these require a bit more work to get rid of, as you have to train them out of your dog.

Digging up flowerbeds is one example of a behaviour that is easier to get rid of. Rather than spending hours training your dogs not to dig, simply give them a patch where they can. Teach them that they can dig there, and only there, by buying treats and toys for them to dig up.

The other major problem is urination and defecation. Much like digging, training your dog to poo in a specific place is easier than training them not to go at all. Try digging a pit for them to go in.

Urination is more of a problem, as it can leave nasty brown patches in grass. However, this can be easily fixed by adding two tablespoons of tomato juice to your dog’s premium dog food.

Entertainment

Dogs need to have their minds occupied fairly regularly, and so keeping them entertained is important. However, the whole point of putting the dogs outside is so you can entertain your guests, so you can’t be playing with your pets all day.

A good trick is to show a dog a toy, get them to sit and then hide that toy in the garden for the dog to find. You could even quickly bury it in the digging patch. Alternatively, you can buy a meat-flavoured bubble machine that will keep your dogs occupied for hours. Of course, there’s always the classic option: give them a nice big bone to gnaw on.

Follow these tips, and you should find that you can keep your dogs outside without causing them, or you, any distress whatsoever. You should even find that your dogs enjoy being outside, which will give you peace of mind.

Written by: Hannah