Sensory Gardens for Dogs
"Sensory gardens are an opportunity for dogs to use their natural canine skills," he explained. "Dogs are naturally curious, and a sensory garden can give them that mental stimulation," says behaviourist Ray Hobbs, who runs Canine Harmony Wales based in Carmarthenshire. Ray has helped create sensory areas for several animal shelters.
below are some photos we found for inspiration -
below are some photos we found for inspiration -
Steve Hill, Bath Cats & Dogs Home's head of behaviour and welfare, spearheaded another sensory garden project in the UK. Here are some of the things he had to say:
- The textured surfaces vary from logs under the dogs' feet to paving slabs with bottle tops embedded into the surface (smooth side uppermost).
- "Very often a dog will just pull, panting on the end of his lead, and he is not relaxed enough to sniff," he explained. "However, if I take the same dog to an area where there is a narrow stretch of trees, slopes to walk up and down, and logs to climb over, straight away he's got to engage with his surroundings."
- Other features in the sensory garden are a sandpit, which is very popular with terriers; a bamboo forest for dogs to fight their way through; a raised platform which is a kennel on stilts; a willow igloo which makes a nice tunnel for dogs to run through and is a place to shelter from the sun; an interactive ‘highline' in the more active part of the garden (a pulley operated wire on which toys are hung); a pond; a scent wall; and a doggy mound and cave - another hidey-hole to explore.
Recreating a Sensory Garden at Home:
- Wooden spools - We searched Facebook marketplace and found some for a reasonable cost. We added a wooden top for stability and some astro-turf for their paws to grip.
- Palates - Build up a platform using old palates. These can also be found very cheap or free on Marketplace/Craigslist/etc.
- Tires - we reached out to some local tire companies/junk yards and asked if we could have some tires. They have to pay for them to be disposed of, so they were more than happy for us to take them away for free! We built up a little mountain for climbing, as well as some tire jumps and a tunnel.
- Doggie Garden- if you are going to create a garden, why not put in plants that will benefit your dog? See below for some ideas of doggie safe plants.
- Different textures - use varieties of rock from large river rock down to peagravel and sand in different areas.
- Digging areas - a kiddie pool can be filled with sand for a designated digging pit.
Some doggie friendly herbs you can plant :
- Oregano is high in antioxidants and flavonoids and is reported as an antimicrobial. This non-toxic herb has been used to help with digestive problems, diarrhea, and gas. (Modern Dog Magazine)
- This dog-approved leafy herb, well-known for its delicious role in pesto, has antioxidant, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties. It’s an anti-inflammatory and contains a high level of antioxidants that help prevent many types of illness including cancer. Basil also helps prevent cellular damage, calms your anxious dog, and eases arthritis pain. (Modern Dog Magazine, Rover.com)
- Parsley is full of flavonoids, antioxidants, and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, and A, as well as iron. Often added to dog treats as a breath freshener or used to soothe the stomach, parsley has a long history of use with dogs. It may also help with arthritis, urinary tract infections, and cancer. (Modern Dog Magazine, Dogs Naturally Magazine)
- Mint is a good source of vitamins A and C.It contains minerals such as calcium, copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin and zinc. It’s also a source of dietary fiber and protein.
- Mint is a powerful antioxidant, and is known for its antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties. Mint contains rosmarinic acid, which has been studied for its effectiveness in relieving seasonal allergy symptoms. It also contains menthol, a natural decongestant that helps break up phlegm and mucus. It is a calming and soothing herb, and can be used to soothe an upset stomach, reduce gas, and stave off nausea and motion sickness. Mint has even been used in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and to help with the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. (Animal Wellness Magazine)
- This good-for-dogs herb is high in iron, calcium, and Vitamin B6. Rosemary has also been shown to act as an antioxidant. This herb should be avoided for dogs with seizures as there's some evidence it may exacerbate this condition. (Modern Dog Magazine, Dogs Naturally Magazine)
- Dill is great for digestion, freshening the breath, and an antioxidant.
- Fresh dill acts as an antispasmodic. It can help to ease bowel spasms, and calm the gastrointestinal tract in general. You can add it to a veggie mix for your dog, or make a tea out of it, and add it to food. If your dog is really picky, add some of the dill tea to broth, or warmed food. It doesn’t take much to do the trick. Roughly 1 tsp. of dill tea for every 10 pounds of body weight has a soothing effect. (Monica Segal)
- Cilantro is healthy for your dog to eat, and may help calm your dog's upset stomach or ease digestion problems. Cilantro contains vitamin A, C, potassium, zinc, and other essential minerals that are good for your dog. Research on cilantro’s effect on human skin cells show how this herb can help repair skin cells and protect the skin from oxidative stress. The same effect can also be seen for dogs, as canines are also susceptible to oxidative radicals, and basically, the same chemistry applies in both scenarios. (Dogs Health Blog)
- Thyme contains Thymol, which is a very good antiseptic for the mouth and throat; useful for fighting gingivitis in dogs. In the digestive tract, thyme is a useful carminative and antispasmodic agent; use in cases of dyspepsia, irritable bowel, and colitis. It also helps expel parasites, especially hookworms. In these cases, the dried or fresh herb can be mixed into the dog’s food – one teaspoon per pound of food fed.Taken in the form of tea or tincture, thymes serves as an antimicrobial in the urinary tract, as well as a mildly astringent tonic that is said to be useful for urinary incontinence. Used as a skin rinse, a thyme tea or an oil infusion can help eliminate fungal or bacterial infections of the skin. (Whole Dog Journal)
We got started on our sensory garden in 2020. We had the idea to make it Alice in Wonderland theme!
We were contacted by a local Eagle Scout asking if he could help with the Sensory Garden as part of his Eagle Scout award! Of course we said YES!!!
Below are the photos of the transformation....
Build day -
Install day -
We cant wait to share this summer when things like the drinking station will be fully functional. So check back spring 2022 for more updated pics!