Dog-Proof Plants for Your Yard

Dog in yard

Are there any plants that are dog-proof? We have a large flower bed that keeps being killed by our dogs urinating and running in the area. -Kim

Unfortunately, there aren’t any plants that are 100% dog-proof. That point was driven home to me recently when, on my evening walk, I spotted my neighbor’s dog happily munching on an extremely thorny pyracantha bush!

The best way to protect your garden from dogs is to train them to dig and urinate in certain areas, and to protect sensitive plants with fencing or wire plant cages.

Tolerant Plants

Dog urine burns plants the same way that fertilizer does – with an overdose of nitrogen salts. No plant is dog-proof, but here are a few ideas of plants that are believed to be more tolerant of pet urine and increased foot traffic:

  • Rugosa Roses: These roses are tolerant of salt and poor soil, and their suckering habit (or tendency to form thickets) spreads out their roots and makes them less sensitive to traffic and stress.
  • Grasses: Bermuda, tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass seem to be more resistant to urine and pet foot traffic, and they generally repair themselves more quickly than other grasses. Clover lawns are also less likely to show spots from urine or traffic.
  • FLower bed in yard
    Deeply planted bulbs may recover.
  • Bulbs: Bulbs are also a good choice for pet areas, because the deeply planted bulbs are less likely to be burned by urine. They are, however, vulnerable to trampling, so you’ll still need to try to reduce pet traffic in the area.
  • Salt-Tolerant Plants: Plants suited to the coast or desert southwest have a higher salt tolerance, which may help them withstand the salts in pet urine.
  • Unpleasant Textures: While my neighbor’s dog didn’t seem to mind thorns, some dogs will avoid plants with unpleasant or unusual textures. Thorny or prickly plants such as roses, cacti, pyracantha, barberry, rosemary, lavender, and juniper can deter dog traffic.
  • Unpleasant Smells: Coleus canina, commonly known as Scaredy Cat, Dogs Be Gone, or Pee-Off Coleus, is thought to have a scent that dogs and cats don’t like.


Further Information

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Backed by his 40-year remodeling career, Danny served as the home improvement expert for CBS’s The Early Show and The Weather Channel for more than a decade. His extensive hands-on experience and understanding of the industry make him the go-to source for all things having to do with the home – from advice on simple repairs, to complete remodels, to helping homeowners prepare their homes for extreme weather and seasons.


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