Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Gardening with Digging Dogs

Hello fellow readers, Gardening with dogs that dig can be such a dilemma.

I’ve heard from a few who have garden diggers despite the freezing temps! “Teenage” puppies that is- Keswick of Stillwater and Dulcie of Basking Ridge to be specific. What regal names for digger dogs :^)

Tips on training your dog not to dig in your garden

According to the Humane Society, training a dog not to dig is the best option.  They suggest the command “no-dig” and divert their attention to fetching or a squeaky toy. Of course, keep them exercised as a tired dog makes for a well-trained dog.

There are certain breeds such as terrier, dachshund, and others bred to hunt burrowing animals with digging instincts you cannot break. Some suggest setting up a doggy sandbox to keep them out of the garden.  Bury treats or toys and lead them to their box when the dig urge strikes then demonstrates by digging yourself. Warning – this technique may backfire if you have outdoor cats (smile).

Tips to deter dogs from nibbling plants 
Yello Lab lying on door mat


Ed from Basking Ridge wrote that digging is half the problem as Dulcie, his 9-month old Lab also eats the plants that she digs up. It seems blue fescue is one of her favored plants likely because they are an evergreen ornamental grass, hence delectable to Dulcie even in winter. Many dogs love eating grass; that includes my Miss Ellie. Despite efforts to keep her away from the ornamental fountain grass, mine are topless before they ever bloom, which brings me to the topic of poisonous plants.

Consideration when choosing plants is essential if your pet is oblivious about what’s harmful to eat. The ASPCA has a vast list of toxic and non-toxic plants for dogs, cats, and horses (link below).

They say Bitter Apple spray used to train animals not to chew does not harm plants. However, the ingredients include 20 percent isopropanol (essentially rubbing alcohol), which makes me think Bitter Apple could hurt plants.  It may be best to spray it on a few leaves as a test and wait a few days to see.

Good luck! And please send pictures demonstrating to your dog how to dig in the sandbox.  The chuckle itself will be worth the effort!

Garden dilemmas?

Click through to Gardening with Dogs Part 2

The ASPCA website for pet-friendly plants

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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