How to Train Your Dog to Avoid Eating Poisonous Plants

We love our pets, and we want them to stay safe—but some of the biggest dangers are lurking in our yards and homes. Certain plants are poisonous to dogs, and if your pet eats one, there are dire consequences.

Luckily, you can train your puppy or dog to avoid eating poisonous plants in your house or yard. By following these simple tricks, you can make sure your dog stays safe, and you don't have to worry when you leave the house or let him roam in the backyard.

1. Stop the Chewing

Puppies love to chew on everything in sight—including plants. Start good habits early by teaching your puppy not to chew on anything using the “ouch” command. Use the command indoors first by saying ouch as if you just stubbed your toe, and keep still. Once the puppy learns this command with humans and household objects, take him outside.

Put your puppy in the garden and give the ouch command as soon as he tries to chew on a plant. He should already know that this command means to leave the object alone. You’re simply reinforcing the notion that outside plants are also prohibited.

2. Lemon Juice Keeps the Dogs Away

If you try the ouch command and it still doesn’t work, maybe it’s time for some lemon juice. Many dogs don’t like the taste or smell of lemon and will avoid it when they smell it coming from your plants. Spritz some of your houseplants with diluted lemon juice or even place slices of lemons in the pots. This should keep the dogs away.

3.Use Cayenne Pepper Powder Outside

For outdoor plants, try sprinkling cayenne pepper powder around the border of poisonous plants. The powder is irritating to the eyes and nose, and dogs also don’t like the scent.

Keep an eye out for common plants that can hurt your dog. Aloe vera, baby’s breath, carnations, and even tomato plants are all poisonous to dogs. If you have any of these plants in your garden, try replacing them with more dog-friendly options. Herbs, air plants, spider plants, and more are all great options for keeping your garden beautiful but safe for your pooch.

4. Praise Your Dog

Don’t forget that dogs almost always respond to positive reinforcement. If you teach your dog a command for staying away from your garden, don’t forget to praise him when he gets it right.

For example, if you’re using the ouch command and your dog listens and moves away from a poisonous plant, give him a treat. This will remind him that he’s doing the right thing, and the next time he may repeat those actions to get another tasty treat.

5. Know the Symptoms of Poisoning

If you’ve tried everything and your dog still eats a poisonous plant, there are some key signs to watch out for. Drowsiness, vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, and staggering are all symptoms of poisoning in dogs. If you notice these symptoms in your pet, immediately call a pet poison control center or your veterinarian. They can get your dog the help they need fast.

Keep Your Dog Safe

It’s scary when you think about what could happen to your dog while he’s just playing outside. Make sure you know what plants are poisonous to canines and replace them with dog-friendly ones. Teach your dog to stay away from plants that are poisonous, and reward him when he does the right thing. Under your guidance, you can make sure your dog stays safe and your garden looks beautiful.


Emily is a freelance wildlife conservation and pet blogger. To check out more of her work, see her blog, Conservation Folks, or follow her Twitter account @emilysfolk.

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