Dog walking outside next to flower bed carrying watering can

After all the time you’ve put in and all the dirt that’s gotten under your fingernails, there’s nothing worse than your dog spending a rambunctious five minutes destroying your flower beds. If you long for the day when you can enjoy the well-earned beauty of your prize blooms and the company of your dog simultaneously, follow these five tips for keeping dogs out of your flower beds.

1) Fence It In (And Them Out!)

Whether you go for a tall chain link, a short picket, or rather an invisible electric, fencing your flower beds may provide the physical barrier that is needed to keep your pups out. If visual appeal is a worry with fencing your flower beds, there are many nice-looking options that allow for some customization. Cedar planks or a garden hedge might be more your style.

If you’d rather not have a fence blocking the efforts of your green thumb, an invisible or wireless dog fence might suit your needs. Some wireless dog fences require a buried wire around your no-dog spaces and come with a receiver collar for your dog that emits a sound or static shock when approached. Other wireless dog fences have a GPS-programmable collar that lets your dog know that the flower beds are off-limits.

Of course, there’s always the option of fencing in your dog area. This option allows your flower beds to be open, viewable, and safe from digging paws, but it doesn’t give your pooch as much freedom to roam with you.

2) Teach Them Boundaries

Dog digging under fence

If you have the time and patience, boundary training your dog is a great way to teach them to stay out of flower beds. You don’t have to worry about any physical barriers creating an eyesore or the safety of chemical deterrents. Instead, you have a dog that knows where it can and can not go. Boundary training can be helpful for flower beds as well as unfenced yards and even for rooms in your home.1

Training your pup to stay away from flower beds will take some basic commands, such as sit, stay, and down, as well as some positive reinforcement.2 Using flags or rope to provide an easy visual barrier may be necessary in the beginning so that your dog can more clearly see the boundaries of its safe zone.

After that, have your dog sit or lie down outside of the flower bed barrier whenever you go in or if they go near it on their own. Reward them for keeping their paws out of your cared-for dirt. However, if your pup does happen to stray into the off-limits area, simply have them come out, sit or lie down at the boundary, and reward them when they’re calm.

3) Try a Clean Chemical Deterrent

You might already be using a chemical deterrent to keep bugs or deer out of your flowers, so why not try one for your pup? Chemical deterrents work by emitting a smell or taste that your dog doesn’t like, usually spicy or bitter flavors. Citrus can also be a potent deterrent for dogs. Since safety can be an issue with the chemical products that you buy to use around your pup, a natural alternative like coffee grounds or red pepper flakes can work just as well as a commercial product without the worry of being hazardous.3

4) Keep Your Dog Occupied

Pups usually venture into your flower beds out of curiosity or boredom. After all, they see you spending many pleasing hours amongst the blooms and might like to try it for themselves. Keeping them occupied with other games or exercise can help save your flower beds. Regular exercise through walks, dog park visits, or interactive games of fetch will help burn off that extra energy that keeps your dog’s curiosity primed and helps them maintain a healthy weight.4

If you don’t have time for a long walk, consider purchasing some interactive toys that help to keep your dog’s mind on the game at hand rather than on how they are going to destroy your azaleas. Mental stimulation is an important part of warding off cognitive dysfunction and separation anxiety as well.5

Have a dog that just has to dig? If you have the space and are willing, make them a dig pit. Leave an area of your garden or yard empty with lots of loose dirt. This will let them satisfy the urge to dig in a place that won’t wreck your springtime bulbs. If you’d like a little more containment, consider a child’s sandbox or other similar enclosure, preferably with a lid to keep neighborhood cats from hanging around.

5) Make Some Noise

Ultrasonic noise machines may be an option to keep dogs out of your flower bed. However, these tend to work better for unwanted neighborhood dogs rather than your family pet. That’s because they emit a series of ultrasonic sounds that you can’t hear, but your dog can.6 The sounds, which are unpleasant for dogs, pests, and other animals to hear, are often coupled with a flashing light. It can help keep them out of the area within earshot.

Again, this might not be the best idea if it’s your dog that’s getting in your flower beds because an ultrasonic noise machine might make them want to stay out of your yard completely.


If you’re dreaming of the day when your pup and your garden can coexist peacefully, these five tips for keeping dogs out of your flower beds can help make that dream come true. If you’re not looking for a huge investment, consider the training methods as your first choice. On the other hand, if time is not on your side, installing a fence may be your best option.

  1. Shafer M. Boundary training 101. Accessed February 9, 2021.
  2. Positive reinforcement training. Accessed February 9, 2021.
  3. Rhoades H. Natural homemade dog repellents. Updated September 9, 2020. Accessed February 9, 2021.
  4. Kansas State University. Vet says owners should exercise with their dogs based on specific needs to prevent obesity. Published September 10, 2009. Accessed February 9, 2021.
  5. Seibert L. Management of dogs and cats with cognitive dysfunction. Accessed February 9, 2021.
  6. Gibeault S. Dogs don’t have a sixth sense, they just have incredible hearing. Published July 13, 2018. Accessed February 9, 2021.