Why Does Dog Pee Kill Plants? And What Can We Do About It?
- First, answering the questions — Does dog pee kill plants? And why does dog pee kill plants?
- So, what can you do about dog pee killing plants?
- 1. Designate dog pee areas
- 2. Dilute the dog pee by watering
- 3. Urine burn applications
- 4. Use robust grasses
- 5. Dietary supplements
- The most important thing to remember when answering “Does dog pee kill plants?”
- Read more about dog pee on Dogster:
- How to save tree harmed by urine?
- PVC Coated Hex Wire Mesh Returning a Tidy Garden
- Garden Fence Tips
- Want to stay up to date on all the pet news?
- 1. Citrus
- 2. Granular Repellents
- 3. Plants
- 4. Bloodmeal
- 5. Stones
- 6. Mesh
- 7. Fences
- 8. Pet “Zoning”
- 9. Ultrasonic Trainers
- 9. Motion Sensor Sprinklers
- How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Plants
- Why do Dogs Eat Plants?
- Tips to Stop Your Dog from Eating Plants
- Teach Your Dog Boundaries
- Redesign the Environment
- Use a Repellent / Deterrent
- Final Thoughts
- How to Stop my Dog Destroying the Garden
- Why you should have dog-proof garden fencing
- How to make dog-proof garden fencing
- Dog-proof garden products
- Safety first for dog-proof garden fencing
- Peace in the Yard: 7 Ways To Dog Proof Your Fence
- Coyote Roller for the top of a fence
- Wire-mesh fencing
- Flat-top extension for fencing
- Top-angled extension for fencing
- Full cover for a fence
- Free-standing fence
Why Does Dog Pee Kill Plants? And What Can We Do About It?
Theories abound about what in dog urine is toxic to plants, a popular one being extremes of pH. People say that acidic urine burns the plants, but the real answer to “Why does dog pee kill plants?” is a lot simpler.
First, answering the questions — Does dog pee kill plants? And why does dog pee kill plants?
Does dog pee kill plants? And if so, why does dog pee kill plants? Photography ©Artnature/Thinkstock.
A 1981 study called Lawn burn from dog urine helped bury the old myth that pH is causing the trouble. The concentration of urea in dog urine is basically too much of a good thing for grass and other plants. Other salt and compounds such as potassium may also contribute, but nitrates are known to be the No. 1 killer.
The main thing that makes dog urine more damaging is volume. Large dogs deposit more urine. Females tend to deposit it all in one location. Male dogs are easier on the grass but hard on trees, where urine sprayed on the trunk can filter down to the roots and in large enough volumes can kill the entire plant.
Just how much dogs contribute to the poor health of some city trees is under debate. But we’ve all seen the grates, bags and other contraptions to try and keep the trees pee-free.
So, what can you do about dog pee killing plants?
You can use training to modify behavior, getting your dog to pee in certain areas and to use the gutters rather than the grass. But most dog owners draw the line at being quite that prescriptive. So there are a number of other tips to reduce the conflict between pup and gardens.
1. Designate dog pee areas
Focusing all the dog pee in one spot can help with the problem … if you give up putting any plants in that area. A stake in an out of the way area may attract males to use the area. Likewise, when you are out and about, if your dog will use mulched or graveled areas, this will reduce stress on plants.
Of course, a dog’s gotta go when a dog’s gotta go. But when you have the option, steer Fido to a lamppost rather than a tree and a bark covered area rather than a stressed-looking lawn.
You can spot stressed trees by bark that is discolored or even peeling off around the base. And trees that are under six inches in diameter or have thin bark are at higher risk.
2. Dilute the dog pee by watering
If you can, watering the peed-on area immediately can help dilute the urine and minimize plant damage. For similar reasons it is a good idea to ensure your dog always has ample access to water. More diluted urine will do less damage. And besides, who wants to have a dehydrated doggie?
3. Urine burn applications
Various potions are on sale to break down the ammonia even more effectively than water. So if you have an especially cranky neighbor and your dog just really has to go on his property, you might consider carrying a squirt bottle of pee-weakener on your walks to minimize the damage. If your local stores don’t have it, you can order it online in tablet form and make the solution up as needed.
I am not sure how well they work, but at least they show you are making an effort. And when it comes to your more ardently gardening neighbors, I think dogged kindness and consideration is a better approach than engaging in a pitched argument.
4. Use robust grasses
If you are establishing or replacing a lawn, look into more robust grass species. Most lawns use something like Kentucky bluegrass, which has shallow roots and is easy to transport and establish. But it is also one of the more sensitive varieties and easily damaged by urine. Bermuda or ryegrasses may be more difficult to establish but they are hardier once they settle in.
5. Dietary supplements
I personally am not in favor of putting anything inside a dog that doesn’t need to be there. But I suppose it is possible that supplements that bind nitrogen are completely safe for dogs. I draw the line just short of this particular solution, but others may wish to look into it.
I would recommend making sure that you know exactly how the additive works and taking veterinary advice about its use with your dog. And I would immediately disregard any products aimed at changing the pH of the dogs urine because, as we have already established, this is not the cause of the problem.
The most important thing to remember when answering “Does dog pee kill plants?”
The community balance of dog versus plants tends to become particularly fraught in built-up city areas. I remember once being reprimanded at length by an elderly neighbor just because my dog was peeing in the grass around my apartment building. It is the only building for miles that allows large dogs and as a result contains quite a few of them. The grass, I concede, is less than thriving.
I decided to simply not reply (despite her real fur coat giving me some tempting material for a rebuttal) and a few days later the same woman actually walked up to me and apologized. She just wanted the environment to look nice and knew that I wasn’t doing anything thing deliberately to damage it.
Whether you are more of a dog person or more of a plant person, or a bit of both, it is always a good idea to try and reduce conflict where we can and make the community a great place for both puppies and plants.
About the author: Emily Kane is a New Zealand-born animal behaviorist of the throw-back radical behaviorist type, albeit with a holistic-yuppie-feminist-slacker twist. She spent many years as an animal behavior researcher and is now more of an indoor paper-pushing researcher. Her early dog-related education came from Jess the Afghan Hound and Border Collies Bandit and Tam. It is now being continued by her own dogs and extended dog family and some cats (and her three aquatic snails Gala, Granny, and Pippin — they think of themselves as dog-esque).
Thumbnail: Photography by Heinz Teh / .
This piece was originally published on October 6, 2013.
Read more about dog pee on Dogster:
- Is Your Dog Peeing a Lot? Should You Worry?
- Why Is Your Dog Peeing on the Bed? Taking a Look at Hormone-Responsive Urinary Incontinence
- What Your Dog’s Pee is Trying to Tell You
How to save tree harmed by urine?
I would think that watering extensively should help to wash the excess nitrogen out (which is probably what is causing the problem). It does appear to be a water soluble form, after all. In fact, says that is the one and only true solution (to flush it out with water).
However, if the problem is that your plants are getting burned by nitrogen, rather than that the ground is just too ‘salty’, as they say, it might be good to add things that will help the nitrogen to be less problematic (such as balancing the other nutrients in proportion with the existing nitrogen. If the nitrogen is way too high, this may not be the best idea, though. If the dog is just going to keep urinating on it, I’d go with water all the way, though.
Anyway, when I talk about balancing nutrients, I mean, if your nitrogen is a whole lot higher than your potassium, your plants are more likely to get burned. Extra potassium can help to prevent this. Calcium levels may also play a role with the toxicity of nitrogen.
I’m not sure about dog urine, but human urine has an NPK value of about 11-1-2. That means it’s about 11% nitrogen, 1% phosphorus and 2% potassium. Using it as fertilizer, I’ve heard you should use 1 part urine to 10 parts water, or so (but really, you shouldn’t be using it at all if you couldn’t use lots of nitrogen). A dog urinating on your tree is probably a lot like pouring way too much nitrogen on it. Adding extra water should definitely help, although I don’t guarantee anything.
I would personally wash it out with water, and then add extra potassium (without adding any other nutrients, except maybe a little calcium and phosphorus, if you want—don’t add any more nitrogen). You don’t need to make the potassium equal the nitrogen to save the tree, though. You just need enough. I’m not sure how much is enough (but outdoors, it should be a fair amount less than the amount of nitrogen).
Really wet ground might make the remaining nitrogen more available to the tree, however, but hopefully more would wash out than would stay, and the extra potassium should help to soften the blow.
The DawgTree Pee Guard fastens around the base of trees to create a barrier that prevents dogs from peeing on the trunk.
Jonathan Stewart is a dog-owner and homeowner who lost three trees in his yard after his four dogs kept peeing on them.
Rather than give up on one or the other, this creative West Virginia college instructor of criminal justice tinkered with sticks and bungee cords to come up with a new tree protector and a new DawgTree company (motto: “Keep the Pee Off the Tree.”)
His DawgTree Pee Guard has debuted online to protect trees from dog-pee dousing without harming the tree.
The dome-shaped, fence-like gadget sells for $29.99 (plus shipping and handling) through Stewart’s DawgTree website.
Brown spots in the lawn are a common, well known and obvious result of dog urination, but damage to trees is more obscure and often overlooked.
The same chemical load that kills grass is also potentially harmful to trees and other plants, namely an acidic pH, a heavy concentration of nitrogen, and salts.
Trees can withstand some “dog watering” here and there, but the problem is rooted in canine habit.
Dogs tend to “mark” targets such as poles and trees, and that leads to a parade of repeat dousing as that and other dogs return again and again to mark, over-mark, re-mark and mark ad infinitum.
It’s especially a problem for street trees in urban areas, for trees planted in dog parks, and for any tree in a high-dog-traffic location.
Young trees are more at risk of damage than bigger, older ones. And damage is more likely when rain isn’t happening to dilute the deposited concentrations.
When tree trunks are hit often enough, wounds can occur that lead to cracks, peeling bark and an increased chance of infection that can kill a tree.
Those wounds are most prone to happen at the base of a tree up to about 2 feet on the trunk (i.e. the maximum height of a big dog with leg up).
Stewart first realized this little-known dog side effect when a tree that shades his dining room – and that was a favorite peeing spot – started failing.
“I tried everything from the small tree guards that you can get at Home Depot to the bags you see around trees in the city,” he says. “Nothing worked. I would come home and find my dogs jumping over the small tree guards or chewing up the bags.”
So Stewart began researching “how to protect trees from dog urine.”
He didn’t find any good solutions, but he did find that it wasn’t a good idea to wrap trees or solidly cover them, lest the coverings harbor wood-boring bugs or give shelter to bark-eating rodents.
“After the tree that shields my dining room died, I cut it down and went to a nursery and bought a fairly large $300 tree,” Stewart says. “After digging a hole all day and having six of my neighbors help me unload it, I took the tree limbs that I cut off the dead tree and made a hasty 360-degree briar patch around the base.”
The makeshift protection worked and got Stewart thinking about how to devise a more durable, easy-to-install and better-looking version.
The result is the DawgTree Pee Guard, which is a circle of plastic rods attached by flexible cord at the top and bottom.
The top is secured around the tree by the top cord, which can expand as the trunk grows.
The rods fan out around the base of the tree and make an open barrier that keeps dogs back far enough that the trunks are out of “firing range.”
“The dogs can’t dig around the immediate base, it holds my mulch in, and it looks aesthetically pleasing,” says Stewart.
It also allows sun, rain and all natural elements (except the pee) in.
The Pee Guard fits trees up to 51/2 inches in diameter.
Stewart says the Pee Guards don’t head off potential root damage from dogs peeing through the rods and onto the ground below.
He recommends a layer of mulch under the product to absorb the nitrogen and salts and to either soak the area occasionally in droughts or replace the mulch if dogs still find the area irresistible.
In the long run, the ideal solution is for dog-owners to train dogs to pee on non-plant areas.
A sign post, a mailbox 4-x-4 or the legendary fire hydrant are all better upright targets than a tree, and a mulched or gravel bed is a better outdoor potty than a groundcover bed or planting of black-eyed susans.
PVC Coated Hex Wire Mesh Returning a Tidy Garden
Chicken wire mesh is a kind of light weight hex wire mesh with frequently-used wire gauge ranges from 27# to 16#. It is often used to enclosure chicken, rabbits and other small animals. It is an effective and affordable housing to keep predators out and keep small animals in. when confined the chicken in cage, your garden will return tidy and awesome.
Another common usage of chicken wire netting in garden is to protect pliable plants. Dogs or cats are fond of playing with our lovely plants. Once you enclosing the chicken netting which has big enough hole to allow for sunlight, you won’t worry about these problems any more.
Hexagonal opening woven wire netting is mostly used as light fencing for poultry, farms, for birds, rabbits and pet enclosures, tree guards and garden fencing, storage bins and decorative supports tennis courts. It is also used as wire mesh fabrics for light reinforcement in splinter proof glass and cement concrete, plastering and laying of roads, etc.
- Mesh Size: 1″, 1-1/2″ and 2″.
- Wire Gauge: 12 to 20.
- Wire Diameter: 0.9 mm to 2.6 mm.
- Finish: Galvanized and PVC coated, black or green.
Pendant lamp made of chicken wire.
Chicken wire for green plants protection.
Chicken wire mesh for rabbit netting.
Chicken wire cage.
Black vinyl coated chicken wire mesh.
Green PVC coated chicken wire.
Garden Fence Tips
When exploring different garden fences, it’s important to understand standard fence terminology. For instance, garden fences are measured by the gauge of the wire. The size of the gauge wire depends on the width of the fence. The higher the number, the more narrow the gauge. Very fine wire (27-gauge) requires more passes through the drawing than a 4-gauge wire.
Fencing is also measured in mesh, which can vary from one type of fence to another. A mesh is a semipermeable barrier of metal fibers. Meshes are commonly used to screen out unwanted things, like rabbits, rats and deer.
Here are some fence options to consider:
Chain-link fencing is an economical way to enclose an area, restrict pets or keep unwanted creatures out. Chain-link fencing is made of galvanized steel and comes in rolls from 25 feet to 100 feet long and 4 feet to 6 feet high, with prefabricated gates up to 5 feet wide. Vinyl-coated chain-link fencing is also available.
Welded wire fencing is perfect for keeping larger animals out of gardens or certain areas of your landscape. With a heavier wire gauge, this fence is strong and durable. Like chain-link fencing, it’s also available with a vinyl coating, usually green or brown. And when combined with rail fencing, the welded wire provides a reinforced pet containment area. This material comes in a 14-gauge wire mesh 2-inch-by-4-inch, 36-inch, 48-inch, or 60-inch widths.
Poultry netting, or chicken wire, may be the most economical type of containment fence available. As the name implies, it’s generally used to fence in chickens. It’s also a good choice for small dogs, rabbits and other small pets.
Rabbit guard is the truest of garden fences because the mesh varies greatly. With smaller openings at the bottom and increased mesh openings as you move up the fence, this fencing system is perfect for keeping small animals out of your garden. With a galvanized finish, this fence is made to last longer and provides protection from rust. This 16-gauge wire mesh varies with 1-inch, 2-inch, and 4-inch, openings in 28-inch, to 50-foot rolls.
Electric fencing is normally used to contain livestock. With low-output chargers, electric fencing can be used in residential settings for pet containment or keeping animals out of garden areas.
Electronic pet containment fencing is an excellent choice for anyone who needs to contain pets without any visible sign of a fence. The system consists of a thin gauge wire, a transmitter and a collar. You can form the fence into any shape you want, covering an area up to 25 acres. Put the collar on your pet, and if it gets close to the fence’s perimeter, the pet receives an audible warning signal through the collar. Wireless pet fencing is also available.
Hex netting is a lighter, inexpensive option for protecting a garden. For those looking to keep animals out, the smaller mesh size of the 1-inch hex netting is superior to the 2-inch version. This woven product is made with galvanized wire making it pliable, easy to handle and weather-resistant. This 20-gauge wire comes with a mesh of 1-inch and 2-inch, 24-inch, 36-inch and 48-inch widths in 25-foot, 50-foot, and 150-foot rolls.
Want to stay up to date on all the pet news?
There’s nothing more frustrating than having all the hard work you’ve went through in planting and growing a garden to be ruined in seconds by a digging dog or cat. Here are 9 ways you can have pets and a garden, too. And, no worries: these methods are all safe for pets and kids. See 5 Things Not to Use to Keep Pets Away From Your Garden
Here are 9 things you can use to keep cats and dogs out of the garden:
Citrus peels, such as lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit, give off a pungent smell that most dogs and cats dislike. Grind them up, add coffee grounds for a stronger odour, and add to your soil. The smell should reawaken every time you water your plants.
Some dogs and cats don’t respond to citrus. Some even like the smell. The good news? The coffee/citrus mulch also makes a fantastic fertilizer for your plants.
2. Granular Repellents
Granular Repellents, such as Sergeant’s SHOU, can be effective at keeping pets out of your garden. Keep granules from getting wet by putting them in plastic food containers and punching holes in the side.
Certain plants are known to repel cats and dog. Bergamot, rue, and citronella can repel both dogs and cats. (Watch out for rue, some people have a skin allergy to it). For cats specifically, try Scaredy Cat (coleus canina), or herbs such as chives, lavender, and rosemary. For just dogs, pot marigold, also called calendula, can work.
Plants can have varying results with different animals. Unfortunately, if the animal’s desire is there, a bad smell doesn’t always deter.
Alternatively, you can plant flowers or bushes with prickly thorns, such as roses. Pets dislike the thorns as much as we do.
Mix bloodmeal into your soil for another smelly solution to cats and dogs in the flowerbed. Pets’ sensitive noses will seek less offensive air. Just like orange peels and coffee grounds, bloodmeal also works as a great fertilizer.
The addition of stones will help repel cats from your garden. Since cats prefer sandy, smooth soil, stones can keep them from leaving presents in your flowers. Unfortunately, stones won’t do much for roaming dogs.
Chicken wire or mesh laid just under your soil can prevent animals from digging in your garden. You can cut the mesh for your plant roots.
Electronic fences are effective at keeping your own dogs away from your garden, but can be costly to use just for the garden. If you are already considering an electronic fence, though, you can easily route it around your flowerbeds.
Physical fences are quite effective at keeping pets out, as long as they are high enough. Generally, animals are looking for easy paths, so fences make good deterrents.
8. Pet “Zoning”
If you can spare some space in your yard for pet-friendly areas, they are less likely to go to your garden.
If you have a dog or cat that likes to dig, a designated sandbox or dirt digging area can keep them out of your garden. You may have to “scoop” periodically, but you shouldn’t find surprises in your flowers.
For cats, you can also plant a catnip plant or honeysuckle bush to attract them. Honeysuckle have beautiful blooms and a pleasant smell.
9. Ultrasonic Trainers
Ultrasonic trainers can help keep your pet (or others) out of your garden. They emit a high-frequency sound that pets hate. These are a good choice if you are already training your pet with one. They can be a costly solution just to keep pets out of gardens, though. Also, you have to witness the act for the trainer to be effective.
9. Motion Sensor Sprinklers
Sprinklers, like Contech’s ScareCrow, are motion-activated and work fantastic to keep pets and animal pests away. The short burst of water and sound scares pets, who remember the negative experience, and will likely not return. Just be careful – the sprinkler can’t distinguish between human and animal visitors!
Posted by Amy Dyck
How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Plants
Many of people love having a beautiful garden and a house full of flowers… However, the relationship between dog and plants is not exactly as we’d hoped. Read this article if you don’t want lots of bite marks to appear, or soil to be scattered around everywhere in your garden. Here are some tips to stop your dog from eating plants.
Why do Dogs Eat Plants?
Dogs in general, especially puppies, seem to really love plants… so much to the point of eating them! Maybe they don’t eat all of them, but at least they lick, bite, and play with them, specifically plants with leaves.
They love exploring hedges and grass, but they also destroying petunias, begonias and margaritas. They’re curious about their smell, color, and appearance. If you have a dog and plants, most likely you’ve gotten angry with your dog for destroying your favorite flowers or sticking their nose into a flower bed at the park.
In order to get a better understanding of this behavior, below are a few reasons why dogs bite plants:
1. Lack of Vitamins
If your dog feels he is lacking nutrients, he may look for them elsewhere. A vitamin deficiency is one of the main reasons dogs eat plants.
2. Stomach Pains
If they aren’t feeling well (maybe because of the flowers they ate the day before), it’s normal for dogs to eat grass as a natural remedy to purge themselves. The grass soothes stomach pains. However, it’s not a good idea to let them eat very colorful plants, instead they are better off consuming bushes and shrubs.
A bored dog is dangerous… They could destroy your sofa, cushions, carpet, or your potted plants. Spend more time with your dog and give him more toys to stop him from getting bored.
Dogs usually only eat household plants when their owners’ are not around, in order to catch their attention, or to deal with stress and separation anxiety.
Tips to Stop Your Dog from Eating Plants
Now you know some reasons that cause dogs to bite plants, so following the tips below can help you control this behavior:
1. Raise Your Flower Pots
If you have several household plants that are within your dog’s reach, the best thing to do would be to place them up high or hang them on the wall. You could also set up a sort of cage around plants to prevent dogs from sniffing them.
2. Train Your Pet
Establish the household rules as soon as your dog starts living at your home. This way you’ll avoid more serious problems. You need to teach them that plants are not a toy or food. Each time you buy a pot for a new flower, let them smell it and have them understand that they need to leave it alone.
3. Spray Your Plants with Lemon or Vinegar
Smell is a dog’s most important sense. If something smells bad or they don’t like it, they’ll probably stay away from it. Try spraying your plants with lemon juice diluted in water (1-part juice to 3-parts water), or apple cider vinegar (the same ratio). It’ll do no harm to your plants or dog.
4. Limit Your Dog’s Space
Another technique to stop your dog from eating plants is not allowing him access to certain areas. If you have flowers in the living room, don’t let him in, especially if you’re not home. You can set up different “barriers” to keep him in just one room.
5. Tell Them What They Did Was Wrong
Each time your dog bites, breaks, or digs up a plant, you must make him understand that he has been bad. Take him to the “scene of the crime” and tell him “NO” with a stern voice. That way he will understand what he shouldn’t do it.
Source of Main Image: Enlazadordecaminos
Dogs might be known as man’s best friend, but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect. Whether it’s the food that your toddler throws on the floor, the couch cushions, or your precious plants, they find their way into everything!
We have two large dogs at home, and as much as we love having them around, trying to keep them away from all of these things can be frustrating at times. Sometimes, it seems easier to just let them have their way.
While letting them go after your child’s food on the floor might seem reasonable, letting your dog eat your plants usually isn’t. Not only can they do some major damage to the plants, but if you happen to have certain plants, they can do major damage to the dogs.
Check out this list from the ASPCA, which lists plants that are toxic and non-toxic to dogs. If you’re like me, you’ll be blown away by the number of plants that are known to be toxic to our furry friends.
While many of the plants on that list aren’t common plants that you’ll find in and around your home, there are plenty of common plants that you should be aware of.
Whether it’s for the safety of your dog or for the preservation of your garden, knowing how to keep your dog away from your plants is crucial.
Below, I’ve put together a list of some simple ways to keep your plants and dogs safe.
Teach Your Dog Boundaries
One of the best ways to keep your dog out of your plants is to teach them their boundaries. If you start while they’re still a puppy, this is much easier than it is later in their life (I learned this the hard way).
By teaching your dog where they can and cannot go, or what they can and cannot get close to, you’re setting up an environment that’s easier to manage in the future. What I mean by that is that as you add to your garden or bring in more houseplants, your dog will already be trained to stay away from those things.
My dogs are now really good at this. Even if I bring a new plant into the house, they know that they need to stay away. Food dropped by my son is another story…
Teaching your dog boundaries has other benefits as well. For example, by reinforcing that certain areas are off limits, you might be able to get by without a fence in your yard.
Redesign the Environment
Whether you’re working with indoor plants or an outdoor garden, there are usually at least a few simple ways to change the layout to prevent your dog from accessing your plants. If nothing else, you can at least make it a little harder on them.
For indoor plants, one of the easiest ways to keep your plants and pets safe is to go up. By “go up,” I mean put your plants out of the reach of your dog.
For smaller dogs, this can be as simple as keeping your plants on window sills or counter tops. For larger dogs, you have to get a little more creative.
I like to use hanging planters, like these ones, for smaller plants. For larger plants, I tend to use shelves.
For an outdoor garden, you really have to get creative. If you have a fenced in yard, use the fence to your advantage. By using the existing fencing, you’ll be left with a smaller portion to close off.
My parents use this decorative garden fencing in their yard for this exact purpose. One of their neighbors liked it so much that they ended up doing the exact same thing.
If your yard isn’t fenced in, you’re in for a bigger challenge. Of course, you can fence in the entire garden using decorative fencing, but that can get expensive.
Just like above, if you have existing boundaries, use them. For example, if your plants are up against the house, you’ve already eliminated one side as an access point.
Get creative and use landscaping stones or even larger non-toxic plants to create a boundary for your dog. Even if you can’t close off the entire area, every bit helps to make it easier to monitor when you’re outside with your dog.
If you have a smaller dog, you might be able to get away with simply using raised bed planters to completely keep your plants out of reach.
Use a Repellent / Deterrent
If training your dog doesn’t work and redesigning the layout of your garden simply isn’t an option, the next method to consider is using a repellent or deterrent. There are several types of commercially available repellents and deterrents out there, so if one doesn’t work for your situation, try another. I haven’t had to resort to any of these myself, but others swear by them.
The first type of repellent is water. In my opinion, water is a preferred repellent, since it is harmless to your dog or any other animal that might come into contact with it.
This type of repellent works similar to a sprinkler system, but instead of spraying water when you tell it to (or on a schedule for automatic sprinkler systems), it shoots out small bursts of water for a short period of time when it detects heat or movement.
One popular water repellent that’s used by a lot of people to keep their plants and garden safe is the Scarecrow. This Scarecrow detects heat and motion and sprays a small amount of water when triggered. It also emits a sound at a frequency known to deter animals.
While no repellent is 100% effective, a water-based one is a great place to start if you’re concerned about the health and well being of your pets and other animals.
Another common type of repellent used in or around gardens are chemicals. Chemical repellents can be applied in various ways, such as using a liquid or granular chemical, but the end result is the same.
Chemical repellents are typically applied to the surface of the plants in your garden or to the surface of the lawn around your garden. Some of these chemicals can be used on indoor houseplants as well.
The major concern with using chemicals as a deterrent is the safety of your children, pets, and anyone else or anything else that may come in contact with the chemicals. Although many chemical repellents are deemed safe by their manufacturers, you should always be cautious when applying something to your lawn or garden that has a possibility of causing adverse side effects in those that come in contact with it.
Personally, I would consider using a chemical repellent as a last resort, but everyone is entitled to do what they believe is best for their own situation.
One other deterrent that I briefly mentioned above is sound. Dogs have more sensitive ears than humans and can detect frequencies that we simply cannot.
Just like the water deterrent mentioned above, a sound deterrent can be strategically placed in close proximity to your garden to deter your dog and other animals from getting close to it.
Because dogs are so sensitive to certain frequencies, be cautious when implementing a sound deterrent. These deterrent can sometimes cause behavioral issues in animals.
You don’t always have to resort to commercially available products. You might already have some household ingredients conveniently stored in your kitchen cabinets that can do the job just as well as chemicals and at a fraction of the cost.
As mentioned in this article from Gardening Know How, there are several natural ingredients that you can try, especially with your indoor plants, to keep your dog from eating your plants.
One commonly used household item is lemon juice. Dogs are known to dislike the smell of lemons, so simply spray some lemon juice around your plants, or even place some small lemon slices around them, to keep your dogs away.
Another common household ingredient that’s known to repel dogs is vinegar, which is sometimes mixed with lemon juice to keep your plants safe from your dogs (as mentioned in this article from Cuteness). Keep in mind that vinegar can kill your plants (not to mention it has a strong odor), so you’ll want to apply it in small amounts to something near your plants, not directly on the plants or on the soil surrounding your plants.
As you can see, you have plenty of options when it comes to protecting your plants from your dog. Depending on your situation, one method might make more sense for you than another. If your first option doesn’t work, move on to another.
Not only are dogs very intelligent (maybe not all of them…), but none of them behave or react the same way to a given situation. While repellents and deterrents may work great for some, they may not work at all for others, so don’t get discouraged if the first thing you try doesn’t work.
So, which of these methods have you tried, and what’s worked best for you? Share your stories below!
107shares 3 Simple Ways to Keep Your Dog from Eating Your Plants was last modified: February 13th, 2019 by The Practical Planter
How to Stop my Dog Destroying the Garden
Beyond this, there are certain tips that you can apply at home to improve your dog’s behavior:
- Training is the most important thing, so it is necessary to teach your dog that plants and the garden itself are not toys but elements of the environment from the beginning. How to do it? First try to ensure that when they go out into the garden they are calm, so that their first reaction when freed is not to lash out at anything they have in front of them. That is why if they are anxious inside the house, opening the garden door in that state is a mistake. If necessary, take them out on a leash until they calm down or offer them a long walk beforehand.
- Once out, keep toys and objects handy to entertain it, this way it will avoid the plants as a source of amusement. Either outside or inside the garden, walk your dog and play with it, it will help it let off energy and avoid boredom, which translates into a healthier animal.
- One strategy to keep it distracted is searching, which involves hiding small pieces of food around the house so they can spend the day looking for them. This is a great way to give them exercise and to keep the dog busy. Obviously, you should not hide food in places that they are prone to destroying whilst trying to find their food. It is one of the most recommended relaxation exercises recommended by canine trainers and ethologists.
- It is important to have a path or flowerbeds in the garden, however small it may be, among your plants in order to accustom the dog to walk along and not among the plants. Also avoid leaving dug up bits of ground at plain sight as they can easily become their favorite bathroom.
- To keep them from considering your garden to be their private bathroom, take them for a walk several times a day to do their business, and make them understand that this action has no place among your plants.
- If your dog’s anxiety problem is due to excessive stimulation then try to place their bed and toys in areas of the house that are away from doors so that they don’t get nervous by noises coming from outside or keep an eye on who enters and leaves your home.
- If your dog must stay in the garden while you are away from home, put something out there so they can take shelter and feel safe while you are gone, like a box or a kennel, in order to avoid anxiety when they are completely alone in the garden.
The most sensible option is to not leave your dog unattended in the garden. Do not forget that a dog is a social animal that should not live in a garden because they need their ‘pack’ or ‘family’ to feel completely happy and secure. A dog that is constantly alone and isolated is not only susceptible to stress and anxiety, but a host of diseases that can lead to serious behavioral problems. Having a dog does not mean having a living being chained up in the garden, remember.
As a lifelong gardener and dog owner, I can say that dog proofing your garden isn’t a topic I take lightly. Are you worried about the birds getting your strawberries? If they’re lucky, they’ll get them before the dogs do.
I’ll never forget the summer morning when I came out to find a nearly perfect tomato on the vine. After babying the tomato plant all season, I finally had my first viable fruit. I planned for a delicious salad that afternoon, complete with a vine-ripened, still warm from the sun, freshly picked tomato.
I made the salad with fresh ingredients—greens, radishes, shredded carrots, and herbs, all fresh from the veggie patch in my yard—then went out to pluck the gorgeous tomato. But it wasn’t there. Guess who got it?
Why you should have dog-proof garden fencing
Evidently, the garden twine I used as a barrier, didn’t mean much to Mikey, my black Lab/Springer spaniel mix. I was annoyed at first, but then I just laughed. Mikey taught me that dogs enjoy fresh tomatoes, but there are other reasons to dog proof your garden.
Like the time my young Rottweiler had a case of the zoomies on my freshly planted, but unfenced, bean patch. I had just spent all afternoon prepping and planting those seeds and left for a few minutes to get a rake in the garage, and there she was, gleefully running through everything.
And even when nothing’s planted yet, somehow fresh soil attracts dogs like cats to a sandbox, and I’ve found more than one steaming pile waiting for me in the morning. Composted manure in the garden is great for plants, but fresh dog (or cat) feces are a big “no” when it comes to gardens.
If you want to protect your precious plants from your dog(s), dog-proof garden fencing is the way to go. As an added benefit, a well-constructed dog proof garden fence can keep out other unwanted visitors like rabbits, raccoons, skunks, or squirrels, depending on the material (and if they can climb it), and even your backyard chickens (who can decimate a garden in no time flat).
How to make dog-proof garden fencing
There are dog and cat garden repellents you can use around ornamental plants, but depending on weather, these can be hit or miss. When growing vegetables, you want a sure thing, and dog-proof garden fencing is the best, most reliable option.
Most dogs, regardless of breed, will respect a 24-inch barrier. If your dog is particularly active, athletic, or a giant breed, 30–36 inches should do it. Here’s how to make a dog-proof fence at home:
- Decide what material you want for the fence. This can be a roll of inexpensive chicken wire at the garden store, or pre-fab a wooden lattice panel.
- Measure your garden length and width. You’ll want to get support stakes or posts to hold the fence up. Plan on one post every four feet. Get posts that are 6-8 inches taller than your fence, so they can be firmly set in the soil. Step in fiberglass posts are easy and inexpensive, or you can get metal posts or wooden stakes—wooden stakes are best if your fencing material is wood.
- A trip to your local home and garden store with your list of materials needed:
- Wire or lattice material
- posts or stakes
- fence clips or zip ties to attach the fence to the post; or, if using wood materials, wood screws
- paint, if you’re using wooden lattice, or some surveyors tape for wire (to help it be more visible to your dog)
- and, if your soil is compacted or rocky, some crushed gravel
- At home, it’s time to get to work. Set the stakes/posts first. If your soil is very rocky, dig out the hole first (rather than trying to pound the stake in), set the post, then backfill with some medium size crushed gravel.
- Once the posts are set, unroll your chicken wire and begin attaching it to the posts. It’s helpful to have an extra set of hands at this stage—someone to hold up the fencing and provide some tension as you attach it to the post.
- Attach the fence firmly to the post—usually at the top of the fencing, the middle, and again at the bottom, pulling it as tight as possible between posts.
- Once you’ve attached the fence to the posts, you’re ready to start planting!
Dog-proof garden products
If you’re not the DIY type, you can buy some ready-made fencing and dog-proofing products for $70 or more.
For raised beds or smaller breeds, CritterGuard panels are quite nice. Or you can buy an entire enclosure, a setup that will have the envy of all your neighbors. Removable panels are nice for making fall cleanup and spring prep easier, but keeping the fence up year round teaches your dog that the boundary is permanent.
Speaking of learning, part of dog gardening is making sure your dog understands and respects the barrier. That includes no digging at the base of the fence and not marking the fence (for male dogs). This is where safe and natural pet garden repellent products come in handy.
Safety first for dog-proof garden fencing
When choosing a fence style, make sure there are no sharp edges or decorative spikes that could injure your dog. Also, be sure the fence is easy to see. A dark metal or even chicken wire can become “invisible” depending on what’s growing behind it, and a dog playing with her ball can run right into it by accident.
For a DIY chicken wire or wire mesh fence, weave some blue or yellow (the two colors dogs see best ) surveyors tape along the top and middle of the fence. For picket fences, you can use blue or yellow paint to make sure your dog sees it.
Peace in the Yard: 7 Ways To Dog Proof Your Fence
Oh sweet, sweet fences. How much do I love thee? Let me count ways:
- Fences Keep Dogs Inside. My dogs are off leash, safe, and free to roll in dead stuff without getting tangled in long leads.
- Fences Keep Others Out. Except for a family of Whistle Pigs and one mole with a grudge, no one is cutting through our yard.
- Fences Provide Privacy. It is my right as an American to wear my pajamas all day and not have my neighbors see me slob out.
So clearly, fences are rad. They’re awesome management tools. Not only do they keep everyone safely contained, but they also allow you to do all kinds of fun stuff at home in your yard. Playing at home is super handy if you have a DINOS and need a break from walking your dog or you need to exercise them prior to a walk.
As you probably know, there are many different kinds of fences to choose from. Go check ’em out:
Iron or Aluminum
Invisible (I have some thoughts on those)
Plastic (affordable option alert!)
In the end, what you choose will come down to your personal needs in these areas: Privacy, Finances, Function, and Aesthetics.
As soon as we bought out first home last year, we hired some pros to install a fence. We have a few acres, but could only fence in part of the yard. We chose six foot, solid wood fencing for the portion of our yard that faces the street. The rest is six foot, 2”x4” galvanized, no climb, horse farm fencing from RedBrand. The majority of our fence is the wire farm fencing. This allowed us to save a ton of money, but also provides unobstructed views of the rest of our property. This is a good option if neighboring dogs/properties aren’t an issue.
Boogie’s first time off leash in our newly fenced in yard. It was a good day.
No matter what type of fence you choose (or what you already have, thanks to your landlord or the person who lived there before you), you’ll probably have problems with it. That’s the way life rolls.
Maybe your dogs are fence fighting with the neighbor’s dogs or kids are sticking their hands through the fence and you’ve been finding tiny fingers in your lawn clippings. Or your dog is a jumper, a digger, or a Chris Angel impersonator. Maybe your dog screams at passing skateboarders or the ice cream truck.
Luckily, there are some ways to prevent these common dog-related fence problems (escaping, reacting, being tormented):
1. Landscaping: If you have a dog that is a jumper or likes to patrol the fence line, consider using landscaping as a way to keep your dogs away from the fence. By planting dense shrubs, like Boxwood, along the fence line, you’ll force your dogs to back up, making the jump further (aka harder). And if you have a patroller, the landscaping will make the buffer zone between the fence and your dog a few feet wider, which might help your dog take the day off from guard duty. Just remember to check in between the shrubs on the regular to make sure the dogs haven’t created a secret tunnel to Naughtyville.
2. Bamboo/Reed Rolls, Garden Fencing, and Slats: If you have a chain link fence and you find that your dog is reacting to stuff he sees on the other side of the fence, try zip-tying rolls of reed fencing onto the inside of your chain link fence. It looks nice, it’s cheap, and it’ll give you a lot more privacy (note: it’s not 100% opaque). The reed fencing comes in 4 or 6 foot high panels and can be cut easily. Bamboo looks nicer/is much sturdier, but is also more expensive.
Or, you can feed plastic slats through your chain link fence. They even come in “hedge” (!) style. Either option will also stop others from putting their hands/snouts through the fence.
If style isn’t your thing, but function is, you can try a black plastic construction fence as a visual block.
And if you have a fence that your dog is able to stick their head through, but you don’t care about privacy, try adding rolls of garden fencing to your fence to block ‘em in!
3. L-Footer: If you have a digger, consider an L-Footer. That’s wire fencing laid down against the base of your fence and bent perpendicular (90 degree angle) to it. You know, like an “L”. You can bury this fencing underground, but it doesn’t have to be buried to work. Some people just lay it on top of the grass and maybe add some rocks and garden gnomes to hold down the fort. explains it well (and has tons of other great tips). Also see Bad Rap’s rebar tip.
L Footer (source)
4. Concrete Footer: If you have a serious digger, consider pouring concrete along the perimeter of the fence line and sinking the bottom of the fence into the concrete before it dries. It’ll take some work, but this is super effective.
5. Coyote Rollers: If you have a jumper or climber, you can try these rollers, designed to make it impossible for coyotes to get a grip on the top of the fence (the bar spins). Think rolling pins at the top of your fence. You can DIY this with PVC pipe, if you’re handy.
6. Lean-Ins: Another option is to build lean-ins using farm fencing, so that the top of your fence is angled in a bit horizontal to the ground. It’s like adding a little awning of security. Here’s one to check out. It’s like a cat fence, only sturdier.
If your dog is a champion jumper, and none of this is enough, you may have to consider an expanded exercise area that is totally enclosed with a ceiling. Or a Bio-Dome (sans Pauly Shore, since you actually like your dog).
You can score this lean-in kit here
7. Redundant fences: Redundant fences are the jam. I know of more than one family (mine included) whose backyard life got an extreme makeover when they put in one of these babies. So what is a redundant fence exactly?
It’s a fence within a fence. You can put up a secondary, internal fence on just one side of your yard – wherever the problems are occurring – or all four sides. Most people I know have it on just one side of their yard where they share a common fence with a troublesome neighbor, with a busy commercial building or street, or with a damaged or ineffective fence that can’t be changed for some reason (like when you rent or your neighbor owns the fence).
The idea is to manage the situation with a secondary internal fence, set back from the common fence line, thereby preventing your dog from making bad choices, rehearsing behaviors like fence fighting, or escaping easily. Plus it can help speed up training and will prevent other people/dogs from putting your dog in dangerous scenarios.
The redundant fence doesn’t need to be expensive. We used to rent a house that had a rickety old wood fence that belonged to the next door neighbors. Since we couldn’t do any repairs to the fence, we put up a roll of green plastic fencing about 3 feet back from the common fence line to keep our dogs from poking their heads through the broken fence. We also used a plastic, staked-in-the-ground, corner piece at one point. Could I have trained them not to poke their heads through the broken fence? Sure. But putting up the cheap redundant fence was easy, cheap, fast, always effective, and did I mention easy?
Depending on what issue you’re trying to prevent and your dog’s personal kung-fu skills, the redundant fence may need to be as strong as the outer fence. For some dogs, just having the visual of light pvc fencing will work, for others, they’ll need a solid wood fence to contain them safely.
One more thing about redundant fences: do it. I think people feel funny about a fence inside a fence. It seems silly to have two fences, especially if you just paid to put up the first one! But the families I know that went for it are enjoying their lives again. So if you think it could provide you with some peace at home, just do it.
For more on redundant fences, please check out Puddin’s Training Tips for ideas and some examples. She loves them so much, she wants to start a double fence movement!
BONUS: here are two more ways to keep your dogs inside and safe:
Airlocks: These are perfect for areas without a fence. You’ve probably seen airlocks at your local dog park or boarding facility. These handy gated areas are built in front of your main entrance, so that if the door opens and a dog escapes, they are still contained by the small gated area (the airlock) right outside the door. For some dogs, this may be as simple as adding a sturdy baby gate to the opening of your front porch. In other homes with other dogs, this may mean building a small fenced in area with a locking gate in front of your door. Grisha Stewart’s BAT book has some more tips, including adding a doorbell to the airlock, so that visitors have to wait outside the airlock (instead of at your front door) for you to let them in. We did something similar with our enclosed porch that leads to our front door (see here).
If you have kids, this one addition could mean the difference between being able to keep your dog and surrendering him to the shelter. I can’t tell you how many families brought in dogs to the shelter where I used to work because the dog was always escaping when the kids opened the door. If you have an escape artist or kids that let the dog out, add an airlock.
Airlocks are commonly used at doggy day cares (like this one)
Locks: They keep your dogs in and other people out. We have 10’ swinging gates on our fence and after a few bad storms we discovered that the gates would sometimes blow open. We added a second lock (on the inside) to help keep those bad boys shut.
Depending on where you live, it’s not uncommon for people to let themselves into your fenced in yard. Maybe they wanted to cut through your yard and throw empty 40 bottles at your wind chimes (it happens). Whatever the reason, you don’t want people to be able to let themselves into your yard without your permission. So consider adding locks on the inside of your gates. It can be as simple as a big hook and eye.
All that being said, prevention is awesome, but supervision is always super important. Don’t leave your dogs unattended in your yard. Don’t. Especially if they fence fight or are canine Houdinis. Not only can they get into trouble sniffing snakes (I’m looking at you Boogie), but they’re likely to get bored. And bored dogs want to go on adventures. Give them a reason to stay inside the fence by hanging out with them and playing.
Of course, if nothing else, I’m a realist. So I know that most of us do leave our dogs unattended in the yard sometimes (even if it’s just for a minute) and that’s why all the above stuff should be considered. It’s our job to prevent, manage, supervise, and train…
So, training. Duh. Teach your dogs the skills they need to ignore dogs on the other side of the fence, to come when called, and to stop escaping. That’s really important too.
But all in all, training goes a lot faster when you can prevent your dogs from practicing naughty-pants behaviors like door dashing, tunnel crafting, and fence fighting. So no matter how much training you’re planning on doing, the solutions above will support your dog as they learn, keep them and others safe, and will only make things easier for you. And easy is my favorite.
Now go on and get! Hit the local hardware store and: Set your dogs up to succeed!
Some dogs are amazing escape artists — able to squeeze under or jump over fencing that appeared to be secure. If you have such a dog, you might have to go the extra mile to provide fencing that will keep your pooch contained and safe. Here are some options for you to consider.
Coyote Roller for the top of a fence
This device consists of roller bars that you install at the top of existing fencing. The Coyote Roller can be installed on different types of fencing, such as chain-link and wooden fences. The rollers prevent the dog from gaining purchase when he tries to climb over the fence. For more information, go to www.coyoteroller.com.
If you need extra tall fencing, chain-link is not a good choice. Instead, buy coated wire-mesh fencing, which is stronger than chain-link. One company that sells this type of wire mesh is Riverdale Mills (www.riverdale.com).
Flat-top extension for fencing
For extra insurance against escape, top off your wire-mesh fencing with a foot of fencing that extends perpendicular into the enclosure. Even if the dog manages to climb to the top of the fence, he won’t be able to lean back far enough to get up and over the flat-top.
Top-angled extension for fencing
Here’s a slightly different approach to the flat-top: Angle the fence extension so that it’s aimed upward.
Full cover for a fence
For dogs who’ve managed to climb over every fence, and for dogs who’ve been in trouble for escaping, cover the fencing completely on top.
This type of fencing pops apart, so it can be easily taken apart and positioned in a different spot. It’s a good solution for aggressive dogs who must be kept away from the outside fence line of a yard. Priefert Ranch Equipment (www.priefert.com) is a good supplier of this type of fencing.
If you want to know more about why your dog feels the need to escape his yard and get some additional ideas for preventing escape, see Dog Escapes: How to Keep Dogs from Getting Away.