How to stop dogs from eating garden plants

How to stop dogs from eating garden plants

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How to stop dogs from eating garden plants

Fruit tree roots may be fatally gnawed by domestic dogs (S. L. Hollis, DVM, East Malling Veterinary Hospital, New Zealand, The Veterinary Record 2006, 207:e78–82, J. F. Thomas, VHDV, The Veterinary Record 2009, 240:9–13). This study presents a way to prevent this unwanted behaviour.

If you are worried about a dog gnawing garden plants, firstly, you should stop rewarding these actions. Otherwise the dog may think this is a clever way of gaining access to food (Fig. 1). An alternative is to create a visual or tactile aversion to your garden. Mark the areas you want to prevent your dog from eating with white paint. Then confine them to an area around your garden so they cannot be tempted into eating plants.

**Figure 1.** Make sure your dog doesn’t get into a position where it has a meal. The solution is to spray their nose with lemon juice. Photo by Lee Kravitz

Contacting the Veterinarian

In severe cases of dog plant-eating, the owner should contact a veterinarian as soon as they are aware of the problem. A veterinarian should advise the owner how to dispose of the plants that have been eaten (D. Patrone and F. De Santis, Vet. Med. 63:136–139, 2009). Also, the veterinarian should have the necessary skills to remove the root structure of a plant. There are a few simple tools to use for this.

Attach a fork or pliers to a length of nylon rope and tie one end to a tree or fence post. Feed the other end of the rope to a dog. In this way, the dog is tied to the post as they continue to gnaw at the plant. This helps to prevent them being hit by other animals or getting run over as they attempt to escape. (Fig. 2).

Before using the tool, you must be sure to cut through the woody material, as well as the soil beneath it. Cut into the soil close to the root. Do not use a knife.

Once the plant is removed, cut into the soil surrounding it. Then spray the area with a hose. It is important to remove all of the soil around the plant because this will help deter them from eating plants in the future.

Roots sticking up out of the ground will have more soil adhering to them than those buried in the soil.

Top Tip for the Dog Owner

It is essential that you make sure your dog is aware of the problem and avoid giving it any encouragement to eat plants. If you have to keep it from eating in a particular area then place some bark chips or gravel around the base of the plant, so they have no possibility of attacking it.

Video Tutorial

Download the instructional video on this article on our YouTube channel.

The Dogs’ Diet

It is important to teach your dog not to eat plants. These nutrients are not suitable for dogs’ bodies, so they can lead to weight gain. Also, if you do not stop them eating plants, they may develop gastric torsion or bloat.

A dog’s diet should be a high-quality meat and bone diet. This usually means one containing meat, bones, fish oil and antioxidants. Many dog foods are high in meat, but low in bones and fish oil. Include lean meat, fish oil, eggs and plenty of vegetables. Do not feed raw meat, as this may carry bacteria that is harmful to dogs’ intestinal tracts.

When To Stop

It is important to decide when you should stop your dog from eating plants. If you start when they are young, you can easily encourage them to continue to eat this food. If you wait until they have matured and have begun to eat their own diet, you will be much more successful at avoiding this undesirable habit.

Teaching Techniques


When it comes to stopping your dog from eating plants, try to avoid rewarding them for doing so. If your dog is greedy, then you will be rewarding them for doing the wrong thing. Instead, take action to stop them in the first place. Some dogs enjoy eating healthy plants. The best way to stop this behaviour is to stop them from eating them in the first place.

Some owners say that they provide ‘sticky biscuits’ for their dog. These are the type of biscuits that are coated with a sticky substance. If your dog is eating healthy plants, they should be eating a dry biscuit. They should not be touching a plant with their tongue or chews it. They should only be licking the biscuit, because this is what they have become accustomed to.

More and more owners are becoming aware of the benefits of fruits and vegetables. When you show your dog the benefits of eating these foods, you will be much more likely