13 Natural and Affordable Ways to Keep Dogs Out of the Garden [Infographic]

So how well do you know your dogs?

No doubt that they are lovable and great companions, but they also love chewing and digging. Yep, digging your garden especially.

Is it possible to maintain a beautiful garden with healthy flowerbeds even if you own dogs?

There are handy tricks that you can do to make your lovable pets stay away from the lawn.

Here are some tips on how to achieve this without resorting to the use of chemicals.

The list contains natural methods on how you can deal with the problem. This can also help those who do not have dogs but maintain a garden that is accessible to their neighbors’ pets.

The idea here is to learn the kinds of things that your dogs find repulsive and use the methods correctly to succeed in your goal without hurting your pets.

You will be surprised that most of the things that you will need for this purpose can readily be found in your kitchen.

This will give you a chance to protect your garden while learning more about the nature of your pets. Dogs are territorial creatures. Let them know that your garden is your territory, and where they are forbidden to go.

How to Keep Dogs out of Flower Beds

Updated October 2017. Many of our readers have mentioned that while our natural ways work, sometimes dogs will ignore some of these methods and techniques, making it hard to rely on them. To address this we've added a sure fire way to keep the dogs out of the garden - and it's really quite simple. 

#1 Recommended: Using a Dog Fence

Dog fences are effective because they are physical barriers. Some of our other natural ways to keep dogs out of your garden or flower bed is mostly using scents and chemicals found from herbs. 

However, using a dog fence is more reliable. Even though dogs can jump over some, they typically won't unless they feel threatened. We've never had any issues with dogs jumping out of, or into fences. Our favorite fence is:​

Zippity's Vinyl White Picket Fence (unassembled). It has a classic look and feel - perfect for both your front and back yard that keeps it elegant. It's 2.5 feet tall which is large enough for most dogs because even though they can' jump over it they are very unlikely to actually do so. Unfortunately, it doesn't come with a gate, but you can order one from the same company here (we would recommend it unless you can comfortably step over the 2.5 foot fence easily).

If you're looking for a cheaper alternative you can use a foldable play pen like MidWest's Foldable Metal Exercise Pen with 8 Panels. It's not as stable and definitely not as attractive as Zippity's white fence, but at a fraction of the cost it's a great alternative. Plus, you can move it around so it isn't just for your flower or garden area. 

Natural Methods

1. Clove oil

This is a kind of essential oil that comes from a clove plant that is called Syzygium aromaticum. The oil is primarily used in the field of dentistry as the main ingredient of eugenol due to its natural antiseptic and analgesic properties.

Keep a bottle of this oil at home. Aside from being an instant effective relief for toothaches, you can also use the oil to mark the things and spots that you want to be off-limits to your pets. The smell will give a strong signal to your furry friends that they are not allowed to go beyond where the oil’s aroma begins.

I first tried using this to keep my dogs off the rug and furniture. It worked, so I attempted to put this around my garden as well. You can put several drops around your plots and potted plants. Watch him closely, as he gets near your garden, he will instantly move away in a fast reaction.

2. Potatoes (semi rotten)

Putting some semi-rotten potatoes around the garden is also an effective way of keeping dogs out of flower beds. The sight and smell of the semi-rotten vegetables discourage the dogs from coming around.

3. Cayenne and red pepper mix

As much as you want to keep your pets off the lawn, this mix is something that you really ought to be careful when using. Bear in mind the one simple rule when using the cayenne pepper – do not put too much of the mixture on your garden.

Cayenne pepper is also known as the Guinea spice. You may have this in your kitchen if you are fond of spicy dishes. There are also some people who take the spice as an herbal supplement. It is not surprising since Cayenne pepper is rich in vitamins E, A, B6, C, manganese, potassium and riboflavin.

If it is healthy and edible, how can it cause danger to your dogs? Humans need to consume this spice in moderation. If you are using this to ward off the dogs, make sure that you don’t sprinkle too much of the spice. It can cause burns on the pads of the paws of dogs. If you are doing this to send a signal to your neighbors’ dogs, you might get into trouble when their dogs need to be taken to the veterinarian, not only because of burnt pads but also due to too much ingestion of the spice.

It is not dangerous when used in limited quantities. This can cause upset stomach and diarrhea when your dogs ingest too much of it.

For an excellent impact and yet safe to use, it is recommended to dilute the pepper first so that it won’t burn the pads of the dogs’ feet. You wouldn’t want to hurt them, in the first place. You are using the spices to discourage them from going towards the lawn because of its strong smell. If too much of it can harm the big dogs, you wouldn’t want to imagine what it can do to the smaller breeds of canines.

4. Any pungent spices

Any pungent spices, like cayenne pepper, as mentioned above, are repulsive to your pets. They don’t like the strong smell of these spices, which can send them sneezing. These spices work not only in keeping the dogs away from the garden but also other animals, such as skunks and cats. What can you use for this purpose?

Put some vinegar in a bottle and spray this around the perimeter where you want to keep your pets away from. The smell of the vinegar readily diminishes, so its application has to be done on a daily basis. You can also spray the vinegar in the area where your canine has urinated. This way, it won’t go back to that spot and it will also neutralize the smell of the urine. Dogs have a territorial behavior. They are drawn to the smell of other dogs’ urine. This is your chance to stop the habit by making it really hard for them to mark the spot as their territory.

Do not spray the entire garden with vinegar. This is known as a natural herbicide that is effective in killing certain weeds, but might also kill the other plants in the garden. Spray this only around the edges of the beds of your garden.

5. Orange peels

The citrus oils from the peels are effective in keeping off your dogs, as well as other animals, like cats, from your garden. You can put as many orange peels as you want and these will not harm your pets.

6. Adult’s urine (Men only)

This is another good way to repel your dogs from straying in the garden, but I am not so much into this. The urine gets pungent over time and the smell repels me from going into my own garden as well. You can possibly give this a test if you find yourself with no other choice. The urine of a male adult contains hormones that have a repelling odor. The smell signals a “do not trespass” signal to other mammals. Aside from dogs, this can help in keeping your lawn free from cats, rabbits and deer

7. A motion-activated sprinkler with full garden hose pressure.

Set the sprinkler around the garden area. When the dog passes by the sprinkler, the sensor will detect movement and trigger a quick spray of water. This will make the dogs and other animals, such as cats, raccoons and critters, hurry off and leave the area.

8. Provide dogs' space to play

Keep your pets contented in their own play area that is filled with the things that they love. This way, they won’t be interested in straying too far. Make sure that you also give them enough attention. Never make them feel that you are more interested in the lawn than in playing with them.

9. Peppermint leaves

Dogs are not fond of the smell of these leaves. You can break the peppermint leaves into small pieces and scatter these around the garden.

10. Alter the garden design 

This will give your dogs such pride to walk in the path that is intentionally done for them. It works for me because I still want to see my canines even when I am busy in the garden. I also want them to know why I cannot spend more time in playing and in attending to their needs.

11. Fill a jar of water beside the flowerbed

Place the jugs around the perimeter of your garden. This will give the dogs a strong signal that this is not part of their territory and they ought to stay away from it.

12. Create spiky twigs around your garden

Be careful in doing this step and resort to this only if the other things on the list did not work. Choose the kinds of twigs that can threaten your dogs, but are safe and soft enough when they accidentally step on it.

13. Train and educate dogs

This is the best and most effective among all these steps. A trained dog will not chew on things that do not belong to them. They will not go beyond their territories and will respect you as their owner. This might mean additional work for you, but it will surely be worth it in the end

I hope you have fun in applying these techniques in keeping your dogs away from your flower beds as much as I did. I got most of these from fellow gardeners who can no longer tolerate their dogs’ fondness for digging and from my own shares of trial and error. The list aims to help you understand that there are ways that you can do to protect your lawn without making your pets’ lives miserable.

With this taken care of, it is easier to maintain a good relationship with your dogs. No matter how much you love them, never tolerate your dogs to keep on doing whatever they please. They can be trained and as their owner, it is your responsibility to make this happen. Let them know every time they have done something wrong.

Having a well-trained and obedient dog will keep you from having problems with your neighbors as well. How many times have we heard of neighbors quarreling over a dug-up lawn or having dog wastes on their backyards?

Try out the above methods and engage a friendly conversation with neighbors. Collaboration and accepting ideas from each other ensure that we have fewer problems with gardens, pets and relationship with neighbors.

Small actions will make a difference!