Why dogs eat flowers
Our Manners trainers have heard from many clients who report that their dogs are eating grass, leaves, house plants, and lots more (rocks, poop, dirt…you get the idea).
We advise them that chewing grass or leaves is natural dog behavior (to a point), but when dogs start eating prized flowers or houseplants, then it’s time to intervene. Beyond the fact that you value your flowers and plantings, some shrubs are poisonous to dogs. Examples include daffodils, narcissus, holly, hydrangea, ivy, oleander, and peonies. That’s why it’s a good idea to know how to intervene and correct the behavior.
What to do about it
Start with “No” or “Leave it.” It may be that simple. If your dog stops the behavior and obeys a command to come to you, then heap on the praise and add a high-value treat or toy.
A Taste Deterrent Spray Can Work Wonders. Our Obedience Trainers use and recommend Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray, but we also find NaturVet Bitter YUCK! To be effective as well. In a pinch, you could try making a taste deterrent mix of water and lemon juice in a 1:1 ratio in a spray bottle.
Spend time on training. Your dog can learn that that there are more rewarding things than eating flowers. Work on focusing his attention on you by offering a high-level food reward for abandoning his plant-eating, and issuing a stern “No” correction is he attempts to reengage with the off-limits item. With consistent repetition, you may have success in teaching him what you consider right from wrong. Keep in mind, however, that despite your chagrin about his chomping on your chrysanthemums, chewing and eating foliage is often a self-rewarding behavior, and will continue to occur in the absence of a “better option” from you.
Consider an Invisible Fence® Brand system with Outdoor Shields®
Disclosure: Canine Company sells Invisible Fence ® systems. This is the leading brand of underground wire dog fence systems because it is the most proven technology and it can be customized for any property. Invisible Fence® Brand systems also feature Outdoor Shields, which create barriers around outdoor and indoor areas such as gardens to protect flowers and plants.
“Avoidance units and good manners go hand and hand. A common question we get from Canine Company clients is ‘Why should my dog need an avoidance unit when my dog has basic obedience training?’ It’s a great question and yes, the first solution to curb unwanted behaviors is training. However, for some dogs, there is a temptation to eat out of the garbage or counter surf. If that training goes unreinforced, or the temptation is too strong in your dog, an avoidance unit is a great reminder.”
-Craig Simo, Canine Company Fence Specialist
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