Dogs are loving and sweet creatures, but there are times when they are less adorable and absolutely full of mischief.
The world is their playground, and sometimes there is nothing more exciting than the garden, cheerfully digging up all your hard work because they’ve caught an interesting scent, or they just want to dig a crater in the soil.
It’s not exactly like you’re doing all that work of planting, digging, pruning, and transplanting for their benefit, and it can be incredibly frustrating.
But it can be difficult to communicate this, especially if your dog is very stubborn, or even considers telling off playing.
But perhaps it’s not even your dog making mischief, it could be a neighbor’s dog or even a stray.
It’s worth using more than one method to keep dogs out of your garden and out of trouble, but all should be humane and without scare tactics.
Let’s take a look.
What Brings Dogs To Your Garden?
In order to make your garden less attractive to dogs, it’s worth understanding what’s drawing them there in the first place.
There are so many reasons why a dog might make a beeline for your garden – after all outside is unpredictable and exciting.
If you are a dog owner, and you regularly spend time in your garden, your dog will want to be with you!
They may even see what they are doing as ‘helping’, especially if you’re digging, and they decide to join in, but that might not be in the same place at all.
Crop plants are a tasty snack to dogs, so this is another reason why a dog might sneak out of your sight to try and grab a bite from your crops.
There are many interesting smells a dog might want to investigate in your garden, not just from the plants and the soil, but all the creatures in your garden, too.
The more a dog senses that you don’t want them in a certain area, the more likely they are to want to be there. They want to know what the fuss is about!
Dogs are instinctual creatures, and one strong drive is to dig holes. Not just to hide precious things like bones and toys, but also because they’ve caught a particular scent, or just because it’s fun.
All of these factors can make a garden pretty irresistible to dogs, so what can you do about it?
Well, there are many ways to get the message across to dogs that they aren’t welcome, and using several methods is your best bet, as every dog responds differently.
How To Keep Dogs Off Your Flower Beds
One of the biggest complaints you might have about your dog is when he or she decides to dig holes in your careful planting scheme, or they are running around and having such a fantastic time that they rip up or mow down your flowers.
It can be disheartening to see your flowers being trampled or dug up like this, but luckily there are things you can do to stop this from happening.
You could start by having your dog on a lead when they are out in your garden, rewarding them when they pay no attention to your flower beds at all, and gradually increasing their freedom as they understand more of what you want from them.
You can make another area of your garden more attractive to dogs, where you don’t mind them running around, and teaching them that this space for them is their area, so they best behave in the other parts of your garden.
Positive reinforcement can go a long way, and it means you won’t accidentally teach your dog that a garden is a scary place to be with the wrong methods.
It will take time and patience, but you will eventually see a huge difference. You might also put temporary fencing around the areas you don’t want your dog to go near until they get the message.
How To Keep Your Dogs Out Of Your Garden
There are times when you might not want your dogs in your garden at all or in certain parts, especially if they are young and don’t know the rules just yet, so it’s best to introduce them gradually.
But how do you keep your dogs out? Let’s take a look at some things to consider.
Teach Your Dog The Garden Is Out Of Bounds
The best – and often the most time-consuming way to get your dog to stay out of certain areas in the garden, or to stay out altogether is to teach your dog not to go where you don’t want them to.
This will mean that you won’t have to put up lots of fences or use home remedies, but it does usually take persistence and patience.
It may take longer depending on how determined you are and how stubborn (and clever) your dog is, but this training is well worth the effort. It’s also the least expensive method.
Make sure that you only use positive reinforcement rather than negative reinforcement or scare tactics. The former is much more effective and kinder, and it won’t damage your relationship with your dog.
Treat and praise when your dog does what you want to, and redirect, or get them to settle on a bed and stay with a tasty chew when you’re doing something in the garden that you don’t want any ‘help’ with.
It’s worth noting that dogs are new to your garden, and puppies are very curious, so the less interesting you can make the areas you don’t want your dog to be, the more likely they are to take no notice of them.
Another way of doing this is allowing them to explore under supervision, but as a garden is an ever-changing place, they may not get bored with it, so you might have to use other methods as well.
Use Fences And Raised Beds
Use barriers such as cages made from chicken wire and raised beds to keep your dog away from plants you absolutely want them to avoid.
This will help stop your pooch from raiding your garden beds, while allowing them some freedom to roam a safe outdoor space, and relax.
Use Smells That Dogs Don’t Like
It’s a fact that dogs have very sensitive noses, so you can use this to your advantage. If they aren’t getting the message, you can use citrus oil, apple cider vinegar, or pepper dust to deter them from areas you don’t want them to go.
Keep in mind that sometimes certain dogs will LOVE what they are supposed to hate, so you may have to try several recipes to get it right.
Try to steer clear of ingredients that are poisonous to dogs, such as garlic (just in case they ingest it), so that you know your dog is safe no matter what.
Should You Use Scare Tactics?
No. Not only can this damage your dog’s trust in you or humans in general, but it can also teach them that outside is a scary space to be in, and they may not associate a certain place with where they shouldn’t go, but outside in general.
Instead, make sure there is somewhere safe and rewarding where they can spend their time outside, and this will be much more effective, without making them scared of you or the outdoors in all its forms.
How To Keep Dogs Out Of Your Crops
There are many methods to deter your dogs (and neighbors’ dogs, or even strays) from eating your crops, and using more than one method is the best bet, as not all dogs respond the same way.
Separate Your Vegetable Garden From The Rest Of Your Garden
One of the most effective ways of keeping your dogs out of your crops is to separate your vegetable plot from the rest of your garden.
This means they have a designated space where they can explore, play, and relax while leaving your veggie plants alone.
This isn’t feasible in all garden spaces, of course, but creating a clear line of where they can and cannot be – even if that’s just a path they shouldn’t cross.
Use Containers, Raised Beds, Or A Fruit Cage
Consider making your vegetable garden dog-proof by only using raised beds, and containers, or planting your vegetable plants in a fruit cage to which dogs cannot gain access.
This is also a helpful option when you don’t want to keep your dogs out of your yard completely, but still want them to steer clear of the vegetable patch.
Use Chicken Wire Or Fencing
Employing chicken wire or similar fencing is a good way of teaching your dog where they can and cannot go.
It’s more effective than simply bouncing around areas that you don’t want them to go to and say “No!”
It also means that you can rest easy knowing that your vegetable plants are safe from curious paws and teeth when you’re not in the garden, too.
Teach Them Where Is Off-Limits
Any dog that doesn’t have clear boundaries will become a menace to some degree.
Be consistent with where you want your dogs to go and where you want them to avoid, even if that means they are allowed as long as you are with them, or not at all.
The same methods you use to teach them not to counter surf, steal food, or make themselves at home on your chair or your bed will be effective in teaching them where they aren’t allowed in the garden.
Positive Reinforcement And Reward
The most effective way of training any dog is to teach them through positive reinforcement. Reward what you want your dog to do.
It’s much easier to praise an alternative behavior than to tell them off for doing what you don’t want them to do.
Reward them for playing with their toys in an area of your garden that’s safe for them, as well as somewhere well away from your vegetable garden.
Make A Different Part Of Your Garden More Attractive
Teach them that an area away from your crop beds is a great place to be, by giving them exciting toys in this area, treats, chews, and things to explore.
Soon enough they will associate this place as being better than the place they are not allowed to be, if you combine it with other methods.
Is It A Good Idea To Use A Motion-Activated Deterrent?
While motion-activated deterrents are good for scaring off cats, birds, and other animals you don’t want to roam around your garden, it can backfire with dogs.
Dogs may instantly associate a motion-activated sprinkler with fun, so they will actively make a beeline for it wherever possible!
Use Natural And Safe Deterrents
You can use natural deterrents to help keep your dog off areas you don’t want them to go, but this can also backfire.
Depending on your dog’s likes and dislikes, they may find that the interesting smells that you’re leaving around to deter them are more exciting than the places they are allowed to be.
For example, some dogs will actively seek out chili powder, lavender, rosemary, vinegar, citrus, and other ingredients used in deterrents.
It’s also worth mentioning that garlic (usually used as a deterrent) is poisonous to dogs, so make sure you don’t try it as a deterrent, as the fact that it is bad for them may not stop them from eating it.
Can Solar-Powered Lighting Help?
If you find that neighboring or stray dogs visit your garden at night, it can help to use motion-activated solar lights to help deter them.
It can put off nervous dogs from visiting, but if that doesn’t work, you can get solar-powered lights that look like the eyes of a predator or an animal that they shouldn’t pick a fight with.
Consider moving these lights around the garden periodically, so the dog doesn’t get used to the light and assume it’s nothing to worry about.
Dogs can be determined creatures, especially if there’s somewhere they know they shouldn’t go.
Employing several methods to deter your dog is a good way of getting the method across, but the absolute best way of keeping them out of your garden or a certain area is to teach them through positive reinforcement.
This means that you won’t have to go to the lengths of putting up barriers or deterrents that could be dangerous, as they will know what is expected of them, but it does require time and patience.