Hi there, my son, who is 18, would really like to get a dog. We have never owned one. I am wanting to convert most of our yard (1 acre) to garden beds and would like to sell a bit, although there will be several smaller patches of lawn in shady areas. I am worried about a dog digging up veggies and just plain digging up beds. I am going to do no-till beds so the soil shouldn't be too soft and piled up. Do many of you serious gardeners have dogs? I don't want to have to fence off all of my gardening areas. I would prefer an older dog rather than a puppy if possible who is already housebroken.
Dogs are kind of individuals. Some love to dig, some rarely dig, some only dig if they are chasing moles or gophers or voles. Some like to dig in grass, some prefer soft soil that you've already prepared for easier digging. So, sadly, it depends on the dog, and you can't really predict it in advance.
I've got six rescue dogs of mixed mutty breeds, and two of them dig like fiends. The rest aren't much interested, although they will help in a hot pursuit of a lively burrower. We have a lot of grass on the property in proportion to my plantings, so dog damage has been minimal. They did dig up and utterly destroy (by chewing) one nursery fig tree that I planted near our house. And one of them buried a bone in the metal half-drum where I store my potting soil, which was funny to find with my trowel.
But the thing to remember is, my dogs have acres and acres to roam if they want, most of which isn't planted in any way. So the garden damage from their digging has been minimal. In your situation with a much higher proportion of garden to total area, it might be different.
However, any breed of dog will at least chase (and possibly catch) a wide variety of small herbivorous varmints. It's my opinion that your losses to dog activity will be more than balanced by losses you do not suffer because of the dog pressure on your varmints. My dogs eat several rabbits a week, chase deer when they notice them (not always at night if the dogs come inside), and also bring back (and sometimes eat) quite a few field rats and burrowers like gophers or voles. Just the other day my ninety-pound black behemoth dog (part Great Dane maybe?) was hanging around with me in the container garden when she suddenly jumped up and made a quick charge toward some of my pots. Then she came back very proud of herself and displayed a big fat very dead field mouse. An unlikelier mouser you will never see!
A dog might dig where you do not want it to. Some breeds are more likely to dig than others, but they will all dig some.
As first time dog people, you will almost certainly have some problems training the dog, on various subjects, not just digging in the garden.
Getting an older dog may help, or it might mean inheriting someone else's problems.
There's too many factors to say that a dog will or won't dig for certain. Dogs are individuals, some breeds ARe more prone to digging, and a lot depends on the training and supervsion you put in on the dog.
If the dog is going to be unattended in the garden area as a primary means of confinement when your son is away with friends, at school, at work, whatever, I'd actually suggest getting a middle aged (or senior, even) shelter mutt or possibly a pet LGD, if he really wants a big dog. Northern breeds (huskies, malamutes) and terriers (especially the go-to-ground terriers like JRTs) dig more than most breeds.
if the dog is only going to be left alone in the garden area for short periods of time and longer periods when someone is out there working, I think breed/type matters significantly less, but I'd still suggest a middle aged or senior dog. Yes, you could be inheriting someone's problem, but frequently that's the teenaged dogs that got given up when people discovered that they don't magically train themselves. Middle aged or senior dogs frequently have been in a single home long enough to learn the basics and then life happened, so they can be a fantastic gem as long at the house they were in didn't allow anything that you absolutely can't stand.
A lot also depends on what else is available for the dog to do in its outside area. Huskies are known to be diggers, but I've never had a problem with mine digging because her true passion is chasing down small furry animals so instead she spends countless hours waiting in ambush by the squirrel feeder.
I have about a quarter acre fenced in and the dogs spend most of their time in there.
They do dig from time to time in my beds inside, but generally either to catch varmints or to dig a cool place to lay in the summer.
The little damage they do is balanced out by keeping the wild diggers out.
Thanks everyone for the input. I will research breeds less prone to digging. Will probably need to get a puppy though, because I realized we have chickens and an older dog would probably go after them.
We use bamboo branches on the garden beds to discourage the cats from defecating and the dogs from digging. We've been told that the animals will not only avoid those beds but will continue to avoid them even after the bamboo has been removed.
If you leave it alone all day it will do what it wants if you take the time to teach it not to get in your garden you will be fine. We have 6 sheep dogs and 2 hunting dogs and they won't touch chickens, pigs, the sheep or the garden if we leave them alone.
definitely depends on the dog
i have a garden space at my grandfathers property with small raised mound beds on contour and footpaths between, my dog will only use the footpaths and wont even walk on the beds, my moms dogs (tiny dogs fortunately enough) will run all over it and my grandmas dogs will stay off the bed if she continuously gripes at them but otherwise are worse than the chihuahuas
on the flip side even my dog walked on the beds at home because they were not so symetrical and easily identified by the dog... as for digging though some of the dogs will try to dig they will give up if someone gets after them and some of the dogs wont even try it
I have a raised bed in my front yard with no fence between it and the road...neighborhood dogs and cats just loved to mess in it. My final solution was a hot wire, and I haven't had a mess in that raised bed in years now! My dogs have access to my raised beds in my fenced back yard which is chain link, that can be interesting...all my puppies have dug at one time or another, some hold onto that digging some do not...we rescued a full grown male St. Bernard one time, after he got "well" he taught every dog on the place how to dig out from under the fence...my whole back yard fence is either buried in concrete or attached to 2"X6"'s nailed together in an "L" shape and then attached to the bottom of the fence. Then I have had 2 other dogs that could climb a chain link fence like a child! Hot wire at the top finally stopped that escape route. I will say I absolutely try to not let my dogs see me dig in my beds...I think that monkey see, monkey do theory applies to dogs sometimes! And, I am downright "ugly" about my beds...I run them out diligently every time I see them even eyeballing my beds! I have 3 dogs, a full grown rescued mutt Dalmation/Lab mix which was separated from her Momma way too early and has "attachment" issues...not a lot of confidence when approaching new things for her. Then I also have two Australian Cattle dogs (blue heeler) pups who just turned 7 months, they are a brother and sister from a local litter and they are an absolute handful!
Dog ownership comes with pretty much what you put into it is what you will get out of it. Even at 7 months old I just returned from vacation by myself with my pack of 3 and my pups are invited back. I have rescued dogs and done a bunch of fostering through the years...we have had a LOT of dogs. It is a lot of work...but, I train them all immediately in basic obedience, keep them well exercised and fed and "vetted" and then the "routine" settles in. So, in answer to the question of destroying garden beds...mine have. But, I learned through the years the "anticipated behavior" and have gotten pretty good at "avoidance". I have 6 ducks, who had access to the whole back yard, when I brought those heelers home the ducks went behind their own sub-fence. I have a pet door which leads to the back yard, the grown dog never dreamed about chasing a duck...she "helped" me raise them when I brought them home, they are part of her pack and will even let her sniff them and they will follow her. The ducks were full grown when I brought home eight week old puppies, the ducks will have absolutely nothing to do with the puppies and run every time! Well, these are herding dogs and they are learning how to "herd" ducks but they are a very "mouthy" breed (they actually make bite contact) so, under no circumstances are these puppies allowed to be alone with the ducks! When the pups are grown and conditioned to their job...then I might be able to trust them unsupervised...we'll see!
While at the kramterhoff two years ago, Sepp's son, showe
d us a raised bed hugel culture combo system. So instead of 6 inch or one foot boards for a raised bed, these were four feet high, wooden, raised beds. He then filled them with logs and soil to make hugelkultures. Ther were som many advantages: you didn't have to bend over to pick or weed, no dogs could jump on the beds and dig them up, and it's a hugelkultur!
Or, instead of American raised beds, do hugelkultur. The height and incline factor stops all manner of animals and people from walking on them, etc.