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Martha Windisch
Martha Windisch, Certified Pet Dog Trainer
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 113
Experience:  17+ years experience as a pet dog trainer. AKC titles in obedience, tracking, field and agility.
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Keep dogs from pulling up plants in or out of containers

Resolved Question:

German shepard dogs pull plants out of their containers, they do not destroy them just pull them up
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Martha Windisch replied 9 years ago.

Are you asking how to prevent the dogs from pulling the plants out?

What kind of plants are they? Just making sure that they are not poisonous - even though they are not destroying the plants, it's not worth it to take a chance if the plants could be dangerous.

Do you have one or more than one dog? I see that you indicated female, age 1. Is she your only dog? If not what's the age and sex of your other dog(s)? If you have more than one dog, do you know if it's both of them, or could it be one or the other?

Where are the containers of plants? Are they inside or outside? Are they on the ground, on the floor, or up on something?

Where are the dogs usually kept?

When do the dogs do this? Do you see it happen? Does it happen when you are home or away from home?

I take it that the boundary spray from the pet store did not help? Is this correct?

Are the dogs just pulling up the plants or are they also playing or digging in the dirt?

How big are the pots and the plants? Are they small pots and plants or large pots and plants?

When did this behavior start? How long has it been going on?

Thanks for answering the above questions? Your answers will help me to better answer your question.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Yes, I would like to know the best way for her to leave my plants alone. they are not poisnous, just flowers. They are in containers, pots on the patio. She is the youjngest of two german shephards, we also have a male 5 years old and they get along great. The dogs have access to the inside and outside of the house via a doggy door. She or they have pulled out plants when I am home and when I am gone. You are right thr boundary spray has not been really helpful. Mostly they just pull out the plants. The pots are meduim sized and some of the plants are small Zinna and marigolds. She has pulled up plants before right out of the ground. I'm just not sure how to make her/them understand these are mine. She has toys and plenty of chew bones.
Expert:  Martha Windisch replied 9 years ago.


Unfortunately, there's not much you can do other than management methods that prevent access to the plants or supervision. The doggy door is a good thing in that it gives her access to the outside without you playing "doorman", but it's also a bad thing in that it gives her unsupervised access to the outside (and to trouble). Basically, to a 1 year old dog, plants in the ground and plants in pots are "fair game" and fun to play with. Probably much more fun and rewarding than her own toys. Just pulling the plants out is a highly rewarding game to her.

Here's some suggestions.

1. Don't give the one year old free access to the doggy door and go outside with her everytime she needs to go out. (plus make sure she is getting enough exercise in terms of walks and also make sure she is getting "mental" work in terms of obedience training and jobs to do). This is basically giving her more supervision and more organized activities and less free time. If you need help with obedience training to find a trainer in your area go to and click on the Puppy Manners button and then in the index, click on Find a Trainer and that will take you to links where you can search for a trainer by your zip code.

2. Somehow place the pots out of her reach - put them somewhere else, fence them off, but them up high so she cannot reach them.

3. Or get an invisible fence type of barrier and train her to understand what it means (this can work, but these fences do cost money and proper training is needed so that the dog will understand it and not get upset).

4. Maybe she will eventually grow out of this - which is more likely if she is prevented from doing it so it does not remain so rewarding for her (thus, doing either 1, 2, or 3 is important.)

Unfortunately, it's not in a dog's "vocabulary" "yours versus mine". For dogs, "yours versus mine" basically means that whoever has the valued object at that time, then it's mine. Yours versus mine does not mean that they learn to leave something that's fun to play with alone when you are not there to supervise.

If you plan on not giving doggy door access to your 1 year old and to supervise her when she's outside, then you can teach her a simple "leave it" command. But you will have to be consistent and supervise for quite a long time before you could ever trust her alone around your plants. An obedience instructor could help you with the steps needed to teach "leave it" - see above to find an instructor in your area.

Hope this helps you solve the problem. There is basically no quick/easy/magic fix. Mostly management solutions.

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