The idea of creating sensory gardens and spaces for dogs started some years ago when I explored ways to enrich my own dog’s (Eb) everyday experiences in our back garden.
This is the first instalment of my personal journey into the creation of sensory spaces for dogs, and it’s a tribute to my dog who taught me many things about dogs, dog training and the human-animal bond.
What you can learn from observing your dog
I learnt a lot about backyard gardens from Eb through observation.
“At first, I observed how she used the backyard: the spaces where she would lie to capture the sun, shade, and explore. I looked at how she moved through the space and created her own tracks in the garden. She had a morning ritual where she traversed her nest, and then headed to the back of the garden to explore the plants and new smells that may have come in the night. These insights helped me design the garden with her in mind – through a pet lens. I wanted to give her spaces to explore, sensory trails through plants and natural places to rest and linger.”
In my own back garden, I created spaces for Eb to dig and wander through the plants. She created what I call her nests – places where she could go to relax and be alone.
I experimented with different plants and herbs such as thyme, catnip, chamomile, mint, wheat grass, marigolds and scented geraniums. I created a bamboo forest area where she could explore. This was one of her favourite places and was part of her morning ritual. I collected a range of found objects and plants to see how she would interact with them such as seaweed, feathers, pine cones and recycled tyres. She was such a curious dog and sometimes I would say to her “you are so nosey”.
The sensory garden still evolves although she died on 22 October 2018 after 15 years in her garden and my journey continues in learning about sensory gardens for dogs.