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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 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!