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Tips to keep dogs safe, happy outdoors

Ole Spata/AFP/Getty Images/file

Dogs need some supervision outside. Leaving a dog unattended outdoors not only increases its risk of escape or injury, but can also cause feelings of anxiety and isolation. Pay attention to your dog’s personality and need for interaction. If your dog is vocal or mischievous when alone — gnawing on a fence post or digging compulsively — play with it. More dependent pups will prefer lying on an outdoor dog bed or a weatherproof cushion alongside you. If your pet plays well by itself, it’s OK to leave it with outdoor-friendly toys, says Mychelle Blake, executive director of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. An independent dog might even appreciate the solitude of a doghouse, though this should never be its permanent home.

Fence them in

Many pet owners install a fence, only to discover they’re living with “Houndini.” To prevent jailbreaks, make sure your dog can’t climb or jump over, push its way through, or slip under the fence you install. If your pet likes to dig, bury chicken wire under the fence, or line the base with rocks or cinder blocks to keep it secure. Loeher says that a 6-foot wooden privacy fence works well for most dogs, since it obscures the view of temptations, such as the neighbor’s cat, and protects them from other potentially harmful animals. The clear view provided by electric fences can cause shy dogs to become overstimulated — plus, the shocks from electric fences can make dogs afraid of the yard. Steer clear of tie-outs, trolleys, and chains, since these can tangle dangerously and cause dogs stress.

Tend your garden

Ingesting some springtime flowers, such as daffodils or crocuses, can make canines sick, so consult before buying yard plants. Avoid using insecticides, herbicides, mulch containing cocoa beans, or toxic fertilizers in areas where dogs play or eat. Keep tools, power cords, and hoses in a shed; some dogs will view those items as chew toys. Help prevent muddy paw prints inside by placing mats inside and outside doors.

Safety first


A cushioned collar keeps dogs from squeezing between fence railings or under gates. Try Puppy Bumpers, from $24.50 at

Fresh-picked fun

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Bring the garden to your furry friend with chew toys like Orbee-Tuff Toys With Treat Spots, from $7 each at www.planet

Lounging luxury

A plush and durable outdoor dog bed will satisfy both finicky canines and their owners. Try the Marina dog bed, from $105 at

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living.