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Ponds 101 | PetsWeekly

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I know I’m not alone in slowly assembling a veritable menagerie. Most animal lovers would have a zoo if it were practical!

But sometimes our pets aren’t excited about making friends with other animals. When it comes to dogs, their natural prey drive can cause some problems in our pursuit of a peaceful co-existence.

Dogs enjoy chasing cats, pouncing on rabbits, snatching birds out of the air and diving for fish in the pond.

So can you enjoy other pets if you have a dog? Of course! In particular, let’s take a look at how you can have the koi pond of your dreams without your dog snacking on those beautiful fish.

First, See How Your Dog Reacts

If you fear your dog will try to eat the fish in your pond, you might be right. But at the same time, you might be surprised to find out that your dog doesn’t care about them at all. Before you go to the trouble (and possible expense) of proactively keeping your dog out of the pond, verify his reaction.

It’s even better if you can test your dog’s reaction before you have installed the pond. See if a friend will let you use their pond as a test.

With your dog safely on leash, let him investigate the outside of the pond. Don’t point at the fish or otherwise try to make a big deal out of them, or else he may think you want him to get the fish, like this is some kind of new game.

Keep a close watch on him. He might sniff the water and bend down to drink from it. If he barely notices the fish, it’s a good sign. If, however, he notices the fish immediately and locks onto them with his eyes and generally acts tense or even hysterical, you have a problem. If he goes into the water in active pursuit or tries to bite at the water, you have a big problem.

 

Physical Barriers

The surefire way to keep your dog out of the pond is to put up some kind of physical barrier. This could be a wall that the dog can’t see or jump over, a garden fence or even a sturdy mesh cover over the top of the water.

Dogs rely on sight when chasing prey, so if your dog can’t see the fish, he probably won’t bother them. If your dog isn’t too wound up about the fish but still makes you wary that he might take a bite, planting a thick border of vegetation around the pond, including rocks and stones, is a good way to keep your dog from catching sight of the fish.

A physical barrier is commonly needed to protect small children from accidentally falling into ponds and drowning, so you should be able to go to your local pond supply store and ask for suggestions if you aren’t sure where to start. Our Guide to Fencing Solutions also provides some unique ideas.

Supervision, Redirection and “Leave It”

Supervise your dog when he’s outside so that you know right away if he’s thinking about jumping into the pond. If he looks like he’s very interested in the pond, redirect his attention with his favorite game or treat. Also, make sure that he has a different source of drinking water to use when outside. That way, he won’t be as tempted to get near the pond.

You can also teach him that the area is off-limits by using the “Leave It” cue. It’s helpful if your dog already knows what this word means in other contexts, like when asked to ignore a piece of food that has fallen to the floor.

When you know that your dog responds correctly to this cue in other contexts, start with your dog on leash and walk him parallel to the pond, but a good distance away. If he looks or turns toward the pond, tell him to “leave it” and reward him when he responds correctly. Gradually get closer to the pond, and finally practice off-leash.

Your dog can live harmoniously with your backyard koi pond with a little investment and some good training.

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Aquatic Quotes

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    Henry David Thoreau
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