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5 Simple Ways to Keep Your Dog from Eating Your Plants

5 Simple Ways to Keep Your Dog from Eating Your Plants

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Dogs might be known as man’s best friend, but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect. Whether it’s the food your toddler throws on the floor, the couch cushions, or your precious plants, they find their way into almost everything!

We have two large dogs at home, and as much as we love having them around, trying to keep them from treating our garden like a salad bar can be frustrating. It can also be a cause for concern, especially if you have certain plants that can make your dog ill.

Check out this list from the ASPCA, which identifies plants that are toxic and non-toxic to dogs. If you’re like me, you’ll be blown away by the fruit and flower varieties that can harm our furry friends, including some surprisingly common plants that you should be aware of.

Whether it’s for the safety of your pet or the preservation of your garden, knowing how to keep your dog away from your plants is crucial. Thankfully, there are solutions like training, garden fencing, exercise, and entertainment that can prevent your dog from feasting on your foliage.

Below, I’ve put together a list of simple ways to keep your pets and plants happy and healthy!

1. Teach Your Dog Boundaries

Dog Near Flowers

One of the best ways to keep your dog out of your plants is to set boundaries. This is a much easier lesson to teach if you start while they’re still a puppy compared to teaching them later in life (I learned this the hard way).

By teaching your dog where they can and cannot go, you’re setting up an environment that’s easier to manage in the future. As you add to your garden or bring in more houseplants, your dog will already be trained using clickers or vocal commands to keep a distance.

My dogs are now really good at this! Even if I bring a new plant into the house, they know that they must stay away. Food dropped by my son is another story…

Teaching your dog boundaries has other benefits as well. By reinforcing to your dog that certain areas are off-limits, you might be able to get by without a fence in your yard.

2. Redesign the Space to Keep Plants Out of Reach

Designing A Garden Area

Whether you’re working with indoor plants or an outdoor garden, there are a few simple ways to change the layout of your environment and hinder your pet’s passion for plant destruction. 

If nothing else, you can at least make it a little harder for them to start snacking on your greenery.

Hanging Planters and Shelves

When it comes to indoor plants, one of the easiest ways to keep them out of your furry friend’s reach is to go up! In other words, elevate your plants from the floor and away from accessible locations like side tables.

For pups and smaller dogs, this can be as simple as keeping your plants on window sills or countertops. As for the big dogs, you’ll have to get a bit more creative with your setup, using highly raised tables and plant stands.

I like to use hanging planters, like these ones, for tiny plants and heavy-duty shelves for the larger ones.

Fences or Hedges

My parents use this decorative garden fencing in their yard to keep a small portion off-limits to pets. One of their neighbors liked it so much that they ended up doing the exact same thing!

You can also enclose your garden using a permanent wooden or metal fence, but that can be expensive. A more budget-friendly solution would be to build cages around your plants using chicken wire to cut off access.

Alternatively, if your plants are up against the house, you’ve already eliminated one side as an access point. Just add a few hedges here and there to serve as a “green fence,” and you’re all set!

Landscaping Stones and Raised Garden Beds

You can use landscaping stones, bricks, or even larger, non-toxic plants to create a boundary for your dog. 

Even if you can’t close off an entire area, every bit of an obstacle helps to limit your dog’s leaf-munching and plant-eating activity outdoors.

If you have a smaller dog, you might be able to get away with using raised bed planters to keep your herbs, veggies, and flowers entirely out of reach.

3. Use a Dog-Friendly 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 homemade and commercially available repellents and deterrents out there, so if one doesn’t work for your situation, you can always try another.


Dog With Hose In Mouth

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. Water is a perfectly safe option as it doesn’t cause harm or irritation to anything that comes into contact with it.

Motion-activated water repellents are quick and easy to use—they work similar to a sprinkler system!

Instead of spraying water at the push of a button (or on schedule for automatic sprinklers), this type of repellent shoots out small bursts for a short period every time it detects heat or movement.

One popular water repellent that’s used by a lot of fur parents is the Scarecrow. In addition to spraying water when triggered, it emits a specific sound at a frequency known to deter animals.


Did you know that dogs have more sensitive ears than humans? They can detect faint frequencies that we simply cannot.

Like water repellents, a sound deterrent can be strategically positioned close to your garden to prevent your dog and other animals from getting up close and personal with your carefully cultivated plants.

Because dogs have sensitive hearing, be cautious in choosing a sound deterrent device and select gentle yet effective settings. Avoid sudden and intense noises that can cause stress and behavioral issues in your pet.


Chemical repellents can be effective at keeping dogs away from your precious plants. However, some of these products can be problematic, especially if they contain harsh ingredients.

Always read the labels to ensure your chemical repellent is pet-safe, plant-friendly, and suitable for use in your home and garden. Choose carefully, as some products can irritate your dog’s eyes, nose, and mouth upon contact.

Another downside to using chemicals is the likelihood of heavy rain and strong winds washing them away. Whether you use granules or spray repellent, you’ll need to reapply frequently, which can get pricey pretty fast!

Personally, I would consider using a chemical repellent as a last resort. But if you do decide to use one, choose products available in pet stores and veterinary clinics that are free from toxic ingredients.

Household Ingredients

You don’t always have to resort to commercially available deterrents. Some household ingredients conveniently stored in your kitchen cabinets can do the job just as well as chemicals—at a fraction of the cost!

As mentioned in Gardening Know How, there are several natural ingredients that you can try, especially with your indoor plants, to keep your dog from having a feast in your garden.

One commonly used household item is lemon juice. Dogs are known to dislike the smell of lemons, so simply spraying juice around your plants can keep your pooches away. You can place small lemon slices in the pots, too.

Another familiar household ingredient known to repel dogs is vinegar, which is sometimes mixed with lemon juice to keep your plants safe, according to this article from Cuteness.

Keep in mind that vinegar can kill your plants (not to mention it has a strong odor). You’ll want to apply it in small amounts on something near your flowers and herbs, not directly on the plants or soil.

4. Provide Enough Exercise and Entertainment

You’ve probably witnessed the adorable sight of a puppy getting a case of the “zoomies.” This cute and chaotic event is often caused by a build-up of dogs’ excess energy and boredom.

Similarly, when your pooch doesn’t receive enough physical activity and mental stimulation each day, it can result in anxiety and problematic behavior. This includes excessive barking, hyperactivity, digging, and, yes, you guessed it—chewing on surrounding plants and objects!

Taking your canine companion on a regular walk and playing exciting games and puzzles can give them a healthy outlet for their boundless energy. 

In my experience, interesting toys and treats were enough to keep my dogs constantly occupied and divert their attention away from my prized plants. Mission accomplished!

5. Check Your Dog’s Health

If your dog doesn’t usually munch on leaves and grass but has suddenly taken an interest in a plant-based diet, it may be time for a trip to the vet.

According to the American Kennel Club, a dog with an upset stomach may use leaves and grass to induce vomiting and throw up the unwanted material that’s causing the tummy troubles.

Observe your dog’s behavior closely, and consult a veterinarian ASAP if they’re showing signs of gastrointestinal pain. Common indicators include excessive bloating, weakness, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

Additionally, keep an eye on the type and amount of greenery your pet is eating. Even non-toxic plants can cause issues like intestinal blockage in puppies when consumed in large amounts.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, you have plenty of options for protecting your plants from your dog. Depending on your situation, one method might make more sense for you than another. 

Not only are dogs very intelligent (well, maybe not all of them…), but they’re also unique! None of them behave or react the same way to a given situation. 

While repellents and deterrents may work great for some furry friends, they may not work for others, so don’t get discouraged if the first thing you try doesn’t work.

So, which of these dog-proofing methods have you tried, and what’s worked best for you? Share your stories below!

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Friday 20th of May 2022

Trying to keep my Huskies from eating my is a fun job. I have tried bitter apple, vinegar, animal repel, lemon juice and slices, and they still eat on the branches Help

Amy Osten

Sunday 22nd of May 2022

@James, Is he a German short hair pointer? Mine is a menace?:(

Virgil Clark

Tuesday 22nd of March 2022

Thank You for your wonderful article, with a perfect balance of information, humor and care. We'll try the Lemon Spray for our indoor plants. I'll look at more of "The Practical Planter" in the near future, as Spring is in the air. Thanks Again.