Keeping Dogs Out of Garden Beds


Keeping dogs out of your garden beds….If you struggle with getting Rover out of your rose bed, you’re not alone. As I have 3 cats and 2 dogs, I knwo this is no small feat with keeping beds well maintained. One of my cats doesn’t go outside, and the others spend ore time in the front prch and yard. But take two rambunctious Chihuahuas not yet a year old and I and I have to take off the nice gardener hat from time to time.

Especially when I found one of my basil plants dug into the other day! And I discovered one of their toys buried in one of the beds awhile back. Maybe she was trying to keep her brother from getting it? Who knows. However you slice it, dogs penchant for burying and digging can always create havoc.

It’s a little different from dealing with cats….The biggest problems as I see it is the fact that cats bury their feces which is linked to toxoplasmosis. This kind of crass discussion between my husband and me came about when wondering if dog poop was less toxic than cat poop and why cats will defile a vegetable garden with just one act. That may be more for your sensibilities than you were expected but it is true. Still, we want to curtail both species from doing their business in the very place we plan to harvest what will become our food, so makes sense to be cautious, right?

Here are some things to consider, and strategies…

The height of your beds

Height matters. Especially concerning dogs. If you’re like me and you’re a cat AND dog mom, you know very well that cats climb and tall places never put them off (perching up high is a safety or security practice they do naturally). The height of a garden bed can deter dog, depending on the reed. Small dogs are obviously less inclined to climb up into a tall bed…the ones made with aluminum walls come to mind which are about 2 feet high.

My beds are about a foot deep (they started out around 8″ but after adding to the soil over the past few years it is closer o a foot now. Not out of reach for little bitty Chihuahuas. But there are other strategies you can employ here. Some parts of your container plants you could elevate, at least while the seedlings are still young and vulnerable. Window planter boxes are great too as they are easy to move around.

keeping dogs out of garden beds

Floating Row Covers

This is a grat technique to have especially with crop types that have lower thresholds for lots of sunlight that others, or you want to protect them from other pesky unwanted critters. You could build these out to protect your young seedlings from your dog trampling them or digging them up. If you have some pvc pipe and mesh covering that will allow the sunlight and rain to come in. You can remove them later so they are not permanent.

Motion-Activated Deterrents

Sometimes objects designed with sensors or other elements can be a good trick. We used to have something that was shaped like a birdhouse that was designed to deter nuisance barking,. It worked on a 9 volt battery and gave off some kind of signal that keep them quiet. I still have it, but I realize that is neither here or there, as we’re talking about damage to your garden but if they making too much noise outside that can be a problem too,

being outside is good for them and we need to encourage dogs to play outside but coexist with our crops peacefully. Motion sprinklers could work well, although dogs in general do like water the sudden spraying might be enough to send them running . Place them in the bed areas you want to keep them out of.

You May Need to Be Hands-On

And don’t forget you may need to be more involved and not rely on devices or whatnot/ After all, you’re talking about your best friend, am I right? You may need to supervise your dog or dogs when you go outside. and when you’re working outside. When they start to dig now is the time to scold as they will associate it with not a positive response. I use bone meal supplement to fertilize new seedlings and of course, my pups can’t resist the smell, but I have to put on the big girl pants and tell them to scram while I am still planting delicate new seedlings.

After awhile they’ll get the message. Don’t forget to praise them when they respect your boundaries too. I am unfamiliar with clicker training as I have no experience with it but that if it’s your thing you may need to add that to your training repertoire.

Scents of Essential Oils

Like cats, dogs have a keen sense of smell and some fragrances are off putting. These include lavender, lemongrass, peppermint and citronella (I used to have citronella plants because they are so touted for their mosquito repelling properties, but I was disappointed, It sounded like all hype, or else we have too many mosquitoes. ) But application to a cotton ball, put them on a stick and skewer them and plant in the bed.

Give Them Their Own Play Area

If they have their own doghouse, they already have their own “spot”…so make this their play area. We do have a doghouse but my first husband’s dogs never used it for some reason so we ended up parking it into our hen pen and the chickens love going in and out to lay and keep out of the rain, so it wasn’t a waste of space. But htat’s the exception. Wherever they are outside and have their special toys and other things, this may be enough for them to not entertain curiosity about your garden.



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