Behavioral problems

How to Stop my Dog Destroying the Garden

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: October 10, 2018
How to Stop my Dog Destroying the Garden

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A dog is considered man's best friend. The bonds that dogs are able to create with people are hard to break, because they provide company and a loving and unconditional loyalty that is almost impossible to compare with other forms of affection.

However, who has not got angry with their a dog, whether a puppy or an adult, for tearing the house apart? At first it may seem adorable or charming, but there comes a point where it will be time to teach your pet the necessary manners to live together in peace.

That is why at AnimalWised we bring you a few tips to stop my dog from from destroying the garden, because we know how chaotic this area of your home can look when your dog gets too excited and starts playing among the plants.

You may also be interested in: How to Stop a Dog from Digging in the Yard
  1. Understand the problem
  2. Why does my dog have a destructive behavior towards plants and grass?
  3. What to do stop your dog from destroying the garden?

Understand the problem

The first step in getting your dog to stop destroying your garden is understanding why they do this. One of the main reason for this behavior is that you have not taught them properly to be among the plants, so they do not know how to behave.

First of all it is necessary to teach your dog, whether an adult or a puppy, that these are not toys and that they have no reason to destroy them. It may seem difficult, but it isn't. Training should start from a young age, but do not worry: an adult dog can also learn to respect your garden.

The other part of the problem, in addition to training, are the reactions you get when you come home and discover your garden is a mess. It is understandable that the initial reaction is to get angry and scold your dog, but this will only make the problem worse.

Why you should not yell or punish them

The dog's nature will make them want to avoid the conflict and will therefore react with a language that you have probably already seen where the dog assumes its role as the 'guilty' one: it remains calm, lowers their ears, tries to hide, etc..

Your dog does not react in this way because they understand what they have done or because they are embarrassed, instead it is the way they escape from the anger you are showing them and which they don't understand.

Scolding them will only worsen the problem, as it will cause stress problems in your dog following on from the aggressive behavior on your part and they will believe in their own way that the bond between you is deteriorating, so then they will try to release all that anxiety destroying more things and not just your plants.

That is why if you want to tackle the real problem and prevent your dog from destroying the garden you need to understand in advance that their behavior has a reason and that it is essential to detect this and that in no way hays your dog done this with ill intent (as some paranoid pet owners may believe when the situation becomes chronic), much less to take revenge on you or bother you.

More than a problem, it is the sign that something is wrong with your dog. Take a deep breath when they destroy something and prepare to find out what is happening.

How to Stop my Dog Destroying the Garden - Understand the problem

Why does my dog have a destructive behavior towards plants and grass?

Your dog's behaviour may respond to certain factors:

  • First, your dog could be so use to spending all its time with you that your separation produces too much anxiety, resulting in separation anxiety, which they try to let off by destroying your stuff, or in this case, your plants should it be an animal that has free access to the garden. Your dog does not feel capable of staying alone during the day. Do not forget that the kong is one of the best tools to treat separation anxiety.
  • Another major reason of dogs destroying plants is boredom. If you cannot offer them the amount of distractions that they need with toys to chew, walks, runs and games, they will lash out against everything they see in your garden just to burn off that energy they have accumulated. Ask yourself if you are really meeting their needs, if you stimulate it enough and if you give it the attention it deserves.
  • Another reason for this behavior, especially if your dog is eating plants and grass your garden is that your pet is experiencing some kind of digestive problem or having an upset stomach, so they instinctively chew certain plants to try to feel better. You will need to visit the vet to rule this possibility out.
  • Also a lack of vitamins can induce them to nibble on plants, seeking for the nutrient deficiency they have.
  • Some dogs are more sensitive than others to changes or situations that generate anxiety, such as loud sounds, the arrival of another pet to the house, an unknown person or moving homes, among other factors. To try and release all the fear and stress that the new situation is generating, they may let loose with your garden.
  • In line with the causes of stress, keeping your dog constantly stimulated is not recommended as sudden changes in activity and hyperactivity itself will have them release all that stress through destructive behaviors.
  • Moreover, it is important to remember that while the dog is still a puppy the tendency to destroy everything with bites is normal due to the discomfort that teething produces. Using of toys and biters will be highly important at this stage.
How to Stop my Dog Destroying the Garden - Why does my dog have a destructive behavior towards plants and grass?

What to do stop your dog from destroying the garden?

Once you have identified the cause of your dog's destructive behavior, it is time to train your dog to respect the garden.

If they have digestive problems, growing teeth or anxiety due to being left alone all day then the best thing is to go to a veterinary specialist to prescribe medications or necessary behavioral therapies, depending on the case.

Beyond this, there are certain tips that you can apply at home to improve your dog's behavior:

  • Training is the most important thing, so it is necessary to teach your dog that plants and the garden itself are not toys but elements of the environment from the beginning. How to do it? First try to ensure that when they go out into the garden they are calm, so that their first reaction when freed is not to lash out at anything they have in front of them. That is why if they are anxious inside the house, opening the garden door in that state is a mistake. If necessary, take them out on a leash until they calm down or offer them a long walk beforehand.
  • Once out, keep toys and objects handy to entertain it, this way it will avoid the plants as a source of amusement. Either outside or inside the garden, walk your dog and play with it, it will help it let off energy and avoid boredom, which translates into a healthier animal.
  • One strategy to keep it distracted is searching, which involves hiding small pieces of food around the house so they can spend the day looking for them. This is a great way to give them exercise and to keep the dog busy. Obviously, you should not hide food in places that they are prone to destroying whilst trying to find their food. It is one of the most recommended relaxation exercises recommended by canine trainers and ethologists.
  • It is important to have a path or flowerbeds in the garden, however small it may be, among your plants in order to accustom the dog to walk along and not among the plants. Also avoid leaving dug up bits of ground at plain sight as they can easily become their favorite bathroom.
  • To keep them from considering your garden to be their private bathroom, take them for a walk several times a day to do their business, and make them understand that this action has no place among your plants.
  • If your dog's anxiety problem is due to excessive stimulation then try to place their bed and toys in areas of the house that are away from doors so that they don't get nervous by noises coming from outside or keep an eye on who enters and leaves your home.
  • If your dog must stay in the garden while you are away from home, put something out there so they can take shelter and feel safe while you are gone, like a box or a kennel, in order to avoid anxiety when they are completely alone in the garden.

The most sensible option is to not leave your dog unattended in the garden. Do not forget that a dog is a social animal that should not live in a garden because they need their 'pack' or 'family' to feel completely happy and secure. A dog that is constantly alone and isolated is not only susceptible to stress and anxiety, but a host of diseases that can lead to serious behavioral problems. Having a dog does not mean having a living being chained up in the garden, remember.

How to Stop my Dog Destroying the Garden - What to do stop your dog from destroying the garden?

Once you have successfully prevented your dog from destroying the garden, you may have other animals which are disturbing the peace of your yard. Stray and neighbor cats can be particularly difficult. If this is the case, then you may want to take a look at our article on how to keep cats away from your property.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Stop my Dog Destroying the Garden, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.

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How to Stop my Dog Destroying the Garden