So, I'm helping a friend redesign part of their 5,000 sq.ft. urban yard here in Washington. The place is on the corner of a busy road and a quiet side street. Their Catahoula dog runs those two fence lines along the two streets constantly, to track and bark at pedestrians, bicyclists, mopeds... everything except cars. So, there is a well-worn trail along those two fence lines where the surfaces are all torn up and rutted. Whether it was once mulch, grass, pebbles, whatever, now it's a dog trail. He (Cramer, the dog) has even run down a NZ flax plant.
So my friend can't get the dog to stop, and doesn't know how to train it out of him. I realize that a dog like this needs lots and lots of work to do herding cows, but.... that isn't going to happen. We want to figure out how to re-landscape these areas with plants that will provide privacy from the roads, but won't get run down/dug up by the dog in the establishment phase. Where the dog's trail crosses a grass pathway, the grass is all torn up. Mulch cannot be applied; it only gets scattered. Same with ground cover plants. The soil here in NW Washington is so wet all winter that the soil structure is easily turned to mud and grass is easily torn up.
Does anyone have any experience working with the flow of this kind of dog energy to either work around the dog's activity, redirect the dog, or develop a dog-impervious planting design? Any experience training or incentivizing a dog to do something else?
What we are trying to accomplish is a way to either discourage the behavior or design around it in a way that is attractive. What we are trying to avoid is putting in plantings that the dog will destroy.
Is it possible to set the planting back by the width of the dog's runway? Otherwise it seems as though a second fence will need to be built to keep the dog off the plantings, and this will make him sad because he loves to run along the outer fence. Our dog loves to run in specific tracks as well, and messes up my landscaping. I can deflect her a little by putting obstacles such as logs in areas where she's wearing a rut into the dirt.
Where the dog needs to cross a path, perhaps consider putting down a wooden boardwalk.
I am guessing the fence is chain link or some other see through fence. The only other option besides those given by Tyler (just letting the dog have the run or a 2nd fence to keep the dog off plants as they get established), would be to swap out the fence with one that the dog can't see through. Without being able to see out, the dog will have less (not no) cues to chase back and forth.
"Where will you drive your own picket stake? Where will you choose to make your stand? Give me a threshold, a specific point at which you will finally stop running, at which you will finally fight back." (Derrick Jensen)
I had this exact problem with my young Doberman and a 70m fence. Her and the neighbours dog ran up and down together like crazy. We (the neighbour and I) didn't mind them playing but it was becoming an erosion issue. My dog (being young) was the instigator 90% of the time.
I ran a hot wire held off the fence for its length. About 45cm off the ground. This kept her away from the fence. I then planted a hedge on the fence line. In my case I used vetiver, a hedging grass. I am only a few months in now but the grass is almost tall and strong enough that I can take the wire down. They still play through the fence which is fine but as she can't see over it they only go to see each other when they really want the company.
Thanks for your input everyone. I think we are going to go with a dense planting of some columnar evergreens while leaving enough space between them and the chainlink for Cramer to run his trail between them.
I would suggest that a dog constantly running back and forth is bored, frustrated dog with too much energy: i.e. not being walked enough. Some dogs are just very high energy and need to be walked very regularly, for at least an hour a day, or even more. Being walked--and this means off leash--is one of a dog's primary needs and is just as important as food and love/companionship; it helps burn excess energy and provides mental stimulation. I can't say it will stop the unwanted behavior completely, but I believe this dog would vastly improve if he was walked every day.