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Wondering how to stop your dog from destroying your garden?
If your dog is ruining your yard or plants, you’re probably wondering how to stop your dog from destroying your garden.
In fact, dogs can be incredibly destructive to gardens. Some dig holes in all the wrong places. And others prefer to poop exactly where we walk. Plus some dogs will tumble and roll over our tender blooms. And many will chew exactly what they shouldn’t. For instance, has your puppy chewed up your irrigation heads?
Marking male dogs love to lift their legs to squirt burning pee all over our favorite shrubs, leaving them browned and dead on at least one side. And both boys and girl dogs will dig, pee and poop lawns into patchwork quilts. But, these are just a few of the worst dog offenses we tolerate, with dismay, from our canine companions.
If you think your dog and garden can’t grow harmoniously? Think again!
Harmonizing pups & gardens can be incredibly important for dog safety!
That’s because even some plants (like this aloe) that can heal humans might really harm a dog. Not only could this plant’s spines poke Luka puppy, but if he takes a bite, he could get poisoned!
Learn how some mulches can be toxic here. And find out why testing water might be important for your pup too in this article.
Want a magic wand that will dog proof your yard?
Unfortunately, there is no such thing to make your dog’s area of the garden look as fantastic as the areas Fido can’t forage. But, I’ve lived with a lot of dogs in a lot of different garden spaces in my life, which has helped me develop quite a few tricks and tools to buy that might help your garden survive some of the worst poochy offenses.
And it doesn’t matter if your dog is young or old, you can teach them how to behave better in your garden.
Following 8 Easy Ways to Help Stop Your Dog from Ruining Your Garden:
1. Interact with your pup and garden.
No matter how big or small your garden is it’s critical that you walk, train, and play with your pups. By giving them exercise and attention, you’ll be helping your dog behave better in you garden at home. Plus, this can reduce the amount of pet waste you need to clean up. And you do need to clean it up!
2. Teach your dog gardening command words…
When you’re in your garden with your pup, work with them to understand commands for that space. Phrases like “on the path” and “out-of-the-bed” are easy to use. And once you’ve taught your dog gardening commands, it’s easy to remind them!
3. Try some visual and tactile dog training tips:
Our friend Karen Chapman, co-author of Fine Foliage, shares that she trains her dog to recognize “visual and tactile distinction” between materials. In her country garden, doggie traffic on grass is okay, but traversing loose soil isn’t tolerated. And smooth stone and decks are okay to walk on in her garden. But wood chips and crunchy gravel are not. So, even in the country, boundaries can be set with proper training.
4. Have tolerance for doggy stuff.
Dogs will be dogs. And that’s not going to change. So keep in mind that your dog will need room in your garden to do doggy things.
If you have a tiny garden space, don’t shut your pup up in it alone, or destruction may happen fast.
In larger spaces, design a “the dog zone” in your garden. Choose a spot where you can tolerate a few holes. And include strategically placed leg-lifting targets. Plus allow fetch lines to develop in the grass in these spots. This way you’ll have a dog friendly garden. And it won’t be your entire garden!
Consider these following doggy zone images:
The first is a designated dog hole digging spot, deep in the shrubs. In fact, unless you make a very concerted effort, you’d never see this dog digging play land. When you casually observe this garden from the human perspective, the second image is what you’d see.
5. Create invitation only areas that keep your dog out of your garden:
Even in small gardens, good design can partition spaces. That way you can have a dog garden. And you can have a people garden. Moreover you don’t have to put up really big, ugly barriers to do this with most dogs. But, until your pup is invited into the people garden, they stay enclosed in the dog zone.
6. Protect young plantings from your dog:
When you install young plants, protect them from trampling so they have a head-start. In particular, this is very important in your dog’s garden spaces. Not only will this allow your plants to grow bigger without doggy damage. But adding structural protection can also help train your dog to take other paths around your plantings.
For example in the image below: Inexpensive hogwire is bent over plantings. But you could also try wrapping young shrubs with inexpensive fencing. Or place a peony cage around your plants to get them going.
7. Protect your food garden from your dog:
It is very important to keep dog waste away from your food garden. In fact, it is better to grow food outside your garden’s dog zone. But, if you’re short on space. Or your best exposure for food is also your best dog zone garden area, you may need to look for other ways to keep dog poop out of your veggies.
So if you want to grow edibles for you in your dog-zone, consider investing in a large container. And put your veggies in it. That way, Fido is more likely to poop well below the plants you’ll eat.
Or try creating a living wall for your food garden. That should place your edibles well above your pup’s reach.
Eating out of soil contaminated with dog waste is a very bad idea. But tolerating a kale plant that manages to grow from seed without getting trampled in the dog zone is fine to look at. But, just don’t nibble on it. Instead, let it bloom for pollinators and added garden interest.
Learn about growing a living wall garden…
in this episode of Growing a Greener World TV on PBS. Then grab their step-by-step instructions for building a wall of your own with a recycled pallet. But be sure any materials you grow food in are untreated and non-toxic. Otherwise, you may have more issues to worry about beyond how to stop your dog from destroying your garden.
8. Work with your dog’s behavior when you can:
Dog waste ruining your yard?
Boy dogs will lift their legs. So getting them to stop burning your shrubs with pee may be as simple as swapping a boulder for that plant. But not every behavior can as easy swapping like this.
And about that poop…be sure to to scoop it and dispose of it. Learn more about why in this gardening with dogs article.
Dog digging everything up?
For instance, puppies like to dig. And to change this, you may need to invest in some training time. While you could try to stop the behavior completely, you might just want to redirect them. So, crafting a specific doggy sandbox might help. But you’ll need to also train them when, how and why to choose the sandbox. (And if you need help with that, sign up for more help from us here now!)
Is your dog chewing up your garden?
If your dog is chewing up your garden, give them something else to chew on! Dogs are natural chewers. And while they love a good stick, it might not be the best toy for dogs. That’s because they can end up getting splinters or a lodged stick in their throat.
Does your dog have a fence line problem?
Most dogs inherently work to defend their property. And that means they patrol fence lines, which make trails along property edges. If you’re looking for how to stop your dog destroying your garden fencelines, try giving your dog a narrow racetrack just along the fence. In fact these are easy to hide from view with the right design planning.
As we have moles and other little tunnelling animals (voles?), my dogs set up a constant dig/hunt process, however they do dig bigger holes than their (imaginary) preys. We do have a meadow quite large, but both dogs and the little creatures tend to chose the roses, and just the odd, hidden hole in the meadow. I’ll be planting veg next year, but I intend using mostly high beds for that. When we fence I’ll be using your tip of woodchip paths. Thanks for the article for dogs.
Starlyte, Thanks for sharing. You might want to consider installing hardware cloth or metal mesh under your raised beds so underground tunnelers won’t get into your raised food garden. Since you’ll be keeping your dog out of your food garden (right? right!), you shouldn’t have to be concerned about them getting their nails caught in such mesh. Good luck!