Muddy Mutleys

Dog Training & Behaviour Specialists

Creating a Sensory Garden

Create a Mini Sensory Garden

With a little planning, it is possible for you to make your dog their very own mini sensory garden. Even if you just have room for one lavender plant that can still help your pet. Or perhaps plant a few pieces of willow which can be self-medicating.

Perhaps create a sundeck which is a couple of feet off the ground. There could be steps and a ramp leading up to it, dogs like to lie on raised surfaces. You could also include a tunnel. Put down different surfaces, so your dog gets used to a different feeling under his feet. These can be old ceramic tiles, carpet tiles, old bathmats, boxes, anything safe but that will give your dog something different to explore.

If planting the area you will need to appreciate that the plants will get bent or trashed and might need replacing, but this is all part of a sensory garden – dogs enjoy that sensory experience of engaging with the plants.

Different plants may appeal to different dogs.

You can grow grasses such as wheat grass and barley grass, as every dog will get something out of these. 

Marigold is really easy to grow and many dogs enjoy being around it.

The main instant benefit of a sensory garden is enrichment. Even if you only plant one new plant it’s another smell for dogs to explore.

Top tips for doggy gardeners

  • Install a good selection of different plants. Avoid anything tropical. Ensure any plants you put in are dog friendly and not poisonous.
  • Different textured areas can be created using non-toxic sand, grass, wood chippings, or gravel, and can provide an interactive area in which you can hide toys and treats.
  • In addition to the permanent fixtures, treat balls can also be introduced and filled with food to provide an unexpected stimulation for dogs.
  • Dogs don’t need, although they do appreciate, designated areas laden with interactive elements. Large cardboard boxes can become playgrounds with hidden treats stuck into the sides or smeared on to the edges.
  • Split level areas are another great, and relatively simple, addition that can be made to adapt an area. These different heights allow dogs to climb and give them different vantage points. Railway sleepers, steps, and small benches can all be used to create a versatile area.
  • Exhibit caution if you have more than one dog who may become a little protective or possessive of toys or food.

Here are some of the plants that your dog may be drawn to:

  • Birch – known to help with muscular and inflammatory pain.
  • Catnip – good for its relaxing properties and stimulates playfulness in dogs.
  • Lavender – known to encourage scar tissue regeneration.
  • Marigold – often selected by animals experiencing grief or emotional distress.
  • Meadowsweet – often selected by animals with digestive problems, arthritis, and rheumatic conditions.
  • Peppermint – good for its cooling properties and often selected by animals with skin irritations. It can also be offered as an aid for training,
  • Valerian – often selected by anxious dogs for its calming effect.
  • Wheat grass – animals who are nervous, anxious, and exhibit hyper behaviours often select wheat grass.
  • Willow – animals in pain often select willow bark.

Set it up, grab a gin and tonic, sit back and enjoy watching your dog having fun exploring.