Training

|

1 min read

|

1

Comments

How to Train Your Dog to Not Eat Plants

Training

|

1 min read

|

1

Comments

How to Train Your Dog to Not Eat Plants
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon4-12 Weeks
General training category iconGeneral

Introduction

Sharing your life with a four-legger can mean lots of changes to your lifestyle. This is especially true if you are a keen gardener or have prized houseplants in the home. While it's normal for dogs to eat grass and snack on greenery, if his choice of salad is your favorite yucca plant then you'll be less than impressed.

But snacking on shrubbery has another, potentially more dangerous side. A surprising number of ordinary house and garden plants are toxic to dogs. For the sake of your garden and the health of your canine companion, nipping his natural tendencies in the bud is essential.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Defining Tasks

For the dog, eating a plant is a self-rewarding habit. Any behavior which is rewarded (even by self-gratification) can be tricky to unlearn, therefore you need to give your pet pal a helping hand. This means a combination of removing temptation from his path, along with giving a clear and consistent response when he does attempt to chew a plant.

Always use reward-based methods. While shouting or smacking the dog may seem tempting, it only teaches the dog to be fearful of you and become devious, so he only chews plants when you're not watching.

As with all dog training, consistency is key. Make sure all family members are involved and know exactly how to respond when the situation calls for action.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Getting Started

You will need:

  • Fencing
  • Shelving on which to place house plants
  • A favorite squeaky toy
  • Tasty treats
  • A Ssscat Spray or empty tin cans to booby trap the plants
arrow-up-icon

Top

The Reduce Temptation Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
Reduce Temptation method for How to Train Your Dog to Not Eat Plants
1

House plants above head height

Reduce temptation by keeping things away from the dog. Rearrange your living space so potted plants are up off the floor and well above the dog's head. Shelves, bookcases, a mantel shelf, or even hooks to hang baskets from are all good options.

2

Trim hanging vines

If you have hanging plants with trailing limbs, trim them back so they don't dangle and taunt the dog.

3

Spritz foliage with lemon oil

Dogs dislike strong citrus smells (think citronella anti-bark collars). Consider spritzing the plants with lemon oil, to make them unpalatable to canines.

4

Raised flower beds

Consider a spot of garden redesign, using raised flower beds to make access more difficult for small dogs.

5

Fence off flower borders

Sometimes the obvious answer is the simplest.

6

Supervision

During retraining, avoid leaving the dog unsupervised around plants. If necessary, crate train the dog for those times when you just can't be there.

The 'Leave It' Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
'Leave It' method for How to Train Your Dog to Not Eat Plants
1

Understand the idea

Wouldn't it be nice if the dog came away from the plant when you told him! This is what the 'leave it' command teaches.

2

Focus the dog's interest

Hold a treat inside a loose fist. Show the fist to the dog and let him sniff for the treat.

3

Reward the dog for looking away

The dog will nose and paw at the fist, but will eventually break contact and look away. The moment he looks away, open your hand to let him have the treat and say "Leave It!" Repeat. The idea is the dog learns that looking away from the first earns the treat.

4

Make it more tricky

Once he's regularly leaving the first, try doing the same but with the treat held between a finger and thumb. One he's mastered this, place the treat on the floor and anchor it with one finger. When he looks away on the 'leave it' command, let him have the treat

5

And trickier still...

Now have the dog on a loose lead. Place a treat on the floor, just out of his reach. Have him 'leave it' and reward him when he does just that. Now practice with treats on the floor around the house.

The Remote Punishment Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
Remote Punishment method for How to Train Your Dog to Not Eat Plants
1

Understand the idea

If super-spooky things happen when the dog approaches the plant, he'll soon learn to keep his distance. The trick here is to have the 'punishment' happen as if by magic, so the dog links the unpleasant experience to the plant rather than to you.

2

Compressed air

Position a Ssscat can of compressed air near the plant. Ssscat is motion activated and spritzes the dog with an unpleasant blast of air as he approaches the plant. This is usually scary enough to discourage all but the most determined plant eaters.

3

Booby trap the plant

For a houseplant on a coffee table, try stacking empty cans around the plant. The idea being that if the dog nudges one of the cans, they'll fall and make an unpleasant rattling noise.

4

An unpleasant noise

Make a rattle by putting pebbles in an empty plastic bottle. Hide so that the dog can't see you. As he approaches the plant, toss the rattle to land beside him (NOT to hit him) so it makes an unpleasant jangling sound that puts him off his stride. When the dog believes something horrid happens each time he approaches, he'll soon stay away.

5

A mysterious soaking

Conceal yourself so the dog can't see you. Have a powerful water pistol to hand. When the dog makes to eat the plant, squirt him so that the sudden soaking appears to be an act of God.

By Pippa Elliott

Published: 11/03/2017, edited: 01/13/2021

Training Questions

Have a question?

Training Questions and Answers

Dog nametag icon

Ginger

Dog breed icon

German Shepherd

Dog age icon

2 Years

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Hello. Sometimes, my dog eats plants before rolling in them or for some other reason. And whenever I try to get her to stop, she'll continue and/or run away. Why is she doing this and is there anything I can do to stop it?

May 10, 2021

Ginger's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Genesis, Dogs eat plants for a variety of reasons. It can be due to a nutritional deficiency, an upset stomach, boredom, an interesting smell, or simply because pup enjoys the activity. If you have any reason to suspect a medical issue I would consult your vet. I would also work on teaching your dog a Leave It command, Out command, and Come command. Be sure that pup isn't eating anything poisonous. If so, you may need to change which plants are in your garden, physically block that area off, use a pet barrier device in that area, or not leave pup outside unsupervised. Leave It section: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ Out leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Come - Reel in method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall More come - Premack principle: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

May 11, 2021


Wag! Specialist
Need training help?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2022 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.