Keeping Dogs Out of Flower Beds

Digging is a natural dog habit, and your carefully planted flower beds can easily become one of your pup’s new favorite play spots. Your dog may be attracted to the smell or taste of certain plants, he may be digging for bugs or rodents, or he could be looking for a cool place to rest. Keep your dog and your flowers safe with some creative planning.

High angle view of a mature man gardening with his dog beside him
Show your dog where he can and can't dig.
credit: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

Fence it Off

A simple yet efficient way to keep your dog out of your flower bed or garden is to put a fence around your planting area. The height, thickness and strength of fencing you’ll need will be based on the size of your dog. A fence is an especially important deterrent if you have potentially toxic flowers in your garden, though pet owners with outside dogs should avoid poisonous plants.

Use Aromatic Deterrents

Buy commercial no-dig sprays or use motion-triggered water sprinklers to steer your dog away from your flowers. White vinegar, mustard powder, red pepper flakes, coffee grounds or bitter apple sprinkled around the perimeter of beds can warn your dog away. Thorny plants bordering your garden also can deter entry, as can planting marigolds in your flower beds -- dogs don’t like their smell.

Entertain Your Dog

Your dog may dig up your flowers because he’s bored. Give him exercise and attention during the day to keep his mind off destructive digging and give him interactive toys to play with when you’re away. Dogs shouldn’t be left alone unattended for long periods of time, so consider having someone else look in on your pup if you’re away for extended lengths. Keep your outside dog safe from the elements as well, providing plenty of shade, shelter and clean, fresh water.

Create a Dig Zone

Cater to your pup’s digging desire by making him his own digging area in the yard. Don’t plant flowers or anything resembling the garden you want him to stay clear of. Instead, bury favorite toys and give him positive encouragement when he uses the area. Teach him “no” or “away” commands when he wanders from his own digging patch and into your garden. This can be an especially effective way to handle digging breeds such as terriers.