The dream of having a lush lawn backyard that's fenced off for all your fur baby pleasures isn't always a safe haven. There are potential risks; animal, human and others.
Animal Dangers -
Even in big cities there are predators around. Coyotes are well known to attack and kill smaller dogs and in some places have actually cross-bred with wolves making them larger and more aggressive.
There are 2 known "big cats", jaguars which are found in the Southwestern US and cougars/mountain lions found throughout the West coast and Canada. Both have moved into urban areas because of territory infringement by humans and attack dogs of all sizes.
In the Pacific Northwest, bears have been known to be a problem to humans as well as our loving pets.
There are also non-predatory animals that can become a risk to your pet if they try to play or attack it. Opossums and raccoons can bite viciously and transmit rabies or flea-born diseases. Even something as calm as a deer can stamp, trample or even head butt your dog in a panicked situation. And let's not forget the ever smelly skunk that has a potent stench that can be hard to remove from your pups coat and skin.
The best way to deter animals from coming into your yard is to not leave anything attractive to them to find.
Here are some steps to possibly avoid animal encounters in the yard:
- Never keep dog food or bowls outside
- Tightly seal trash cans
- Clean outdoor grills after use
- Don't leave anything that smells sweet like candles on the patio
- Pick any ripe fruits on bushes or trees
- Never put meat in a compost pile
- Remove sources of standing water
- Block crawl spaces that may be open outside under the house
- Lock the dog door to the yard
Human Dangers -
Unexpected human visitors to our backyards are more common than you think. Utility personnel from water and power companies have to read meters. Cable and telephone workers service wires and repairs. So always be aware when your dog is in the yard. If you see commercial vehicles pull up, call your pup inside to avoid confrontation.
Dog-napping is continuing to rise and pure breeds are on the top of the list. Often times theives look for "uncut" males for breeding purposes and dog fighting. To protect from dog-napping, make sure all fences are secure with no missing slats, gates are locked from the inside, spay/neuter and then micro-chip or tattoo for identification. If possible, never leave your dog outside while your away.
If you do have people frequent your house and yard, it's a good idea to train your dog to "accept" them so as not to freak out if they do arrive at your house. Make sure you let these people know of a "no open gate" policy when working in the yard.
There are times when neighbors have children playing in their yards and a ball happens to go over the fence into your dogs domain. Make sure "Beware of Dogs" signs are properly posted to deter this.
Other Dangers -
The backyard is filled with all sorts of hidden dangers. As the pack leader it's your responsibility to find and get rid of them.
Check fences and walls for any holes or possible escape routes. Check the yard for digging, especially near fences and fill them in. You may want to invest in some chicken wire and bury it at least 12" underground to prohibit this type of habitual digging.
Make sure walls are tall enough so your pup can't jump them. Some dogs have been known to jump upwards of 6 feet tall. Make sure trash cans are not placed by fences which would allow a stepping stone for escape.
Another hidden danger could be growing right in your own backyard! Research the plants in your yard against possible toxic varieties that may harm your pup. Elimination is often the best solution. Also check your yard for any mushrooms or fungus that may have started growing and remove immediately.
Dogs and yards go naturally together and it's our job as pack leaders to make it a safe haven for all pets.