Start Young. As with most forms of “good behavior,” good traits are easiest to learn while your pet is young, so get her used to accompanying you in the garden at an early age. Work on setting boundaries and providing limits as to where the dog is allowed to be and where she is not. Want her to keep clear of your prized petunias? Teach her that with firm commands and rewards to reinforce obedience. And don’t assume puppies can’t learn. Even puppies as young as six weeks old can master basic commands.

Don’t Leave Your Dog Alone. Spend time with your pet in the garden to prevent them from associating the experience of being in your backyard with the experience of being unsupervised. Exercise together. Throw a ball around. Make them feel like “the outside” is an extension of their home as opposed to an unknown and untrusting place.   Supervise your pup’s playtime until she can be trusted to enjoy the outside without being destructive.


Use a Fence. When all else fails, protect your beds and borders with a low fence. You’ll be surprised at how even the most meager fence can be a visual barrier for your dog.Check your fence regularly to be sure your pet hasn’t dug an escape route.

Play with Your Dog. Dogs need physical and mental stimulation each day. So carve out time to give your dog a long walk or playtime each day. Active breeds can get restless and destructive if they are bored.Exercise your dog every day to keep her fit and content. Keep a stash of dog toys in your garden. These can be special toys your dog only gets to play with while she’s with you in the garden.

Grow Barrier Plants. Even the most rambunctious dog will avoid garden beds planted with tall, fragrant, or thorny plants. Barberries, roses, euphorbia, Joe Pye weed, and bamboo are just a few rugged yet beautiful plants dogs prefer to walk around rather than through.

Know Your Breed. Dogs have strong natural instincts you should be aware of before you turn them loose in your backyard. Terriers love to dig and if left unattended, can eventually turn your garden upside down. Be sure to give them lots of exercise and toys to chew on to keep excavation to a minimum.

Click here for a full list of toxic plants. Happy Gardening!