My 2 year old dog, whenever I plant anything in some flower pots that I have in the garden, likes to dig and get it out of the flower pot. He only does it when I have something planted (so it's not because he just likes to dig) and he only stops when every plant is out of their flower pot.

I have punished him several times for that and now he seems to know that he is doing something wrong (judging by the look on his face and by the distance he keeps from me everytime he has done it) but he still can't stop doing it.

How can I stop him from de-planting all my plants out of their flower pots? Any ideas?

  • Elevate them out if his reach? Simplest solution is to remove the temptation.
    – keshlam
    Oct 9, 2016 at 18:30
  • @keshlam thanks but I'm looking for a solution without changing the pot's positions
    – papakias
    Oct 9, 2016 at 19:24

2 Answers 2


Put something in the soil that will repel the dog. Chilli powder, or chopped up chillies. There are also products on the market to stop dogs from going on lawns.

He may also be bored, which is why he is digging. If there is a particular time that he is digging and you are home, play fetch or take him for a walk. If he is doing it when you aren't home, make sure you leave him a bone that he can't get through, that will keep him busy for the duration.

There is a place for both punishment and reward. The other thing to do, when you see him approach them, call him in a friendly tone and praise him when he comes. Offers treats and make a big deal out of it when he returns to you. For punishment a water squirter with a serious voice would work if you catch him in the middle of digging, although this may not be viable if he sees you and runs off.

A note on him seeming to know what he is doing is wrong, he would be aware that he may be punished, so giving you look we perceive as "guilt" which really is submission. He's keeping his distance to avoid the punishment.

  • I like your idea with the chilli powder. I'll try it. Last time he did this was right after a walk. I should also mention that he has all the rest of the garden to dig and he also has lots of toys.
    – papakias
    Oct 9, 2016 at 19:28
  • @papakias I am wondering if there is something in the soil that he likes. A fertiliser or the potting mix?
    – user6796
    Oct 9, 2016 at 20:54
  • I use special soil to plant them but I think that there is no relation to that because when he's done de-rooting the plants he stops.
    – papakias
    Oct 10, 2016 at 11:15
  • @papakias hm he must just be enjoying digging them up.
    – user6796
    Oct 10, 2016 at 12:13
  • So is chili powder okay? It is not poisonous for the dog - pls confirm urgently
    – Rasche
    Jun 22, 2020 at 19:20

Spraying chili powder mixed with water or vinegar mixed with water and spraying only on the pots themselves, not the plants, should help to deter your dog from going after the pots period.

Putting out of reach does nothing for my playful pet either... she is a one-year-old Bodacian and quite the jumper. She also only digs up my potted plants when she is mad at me for leaving her alone at the house. She knows they are special to me and it is her way of showing me she is upset for leaving her.

I myself am going to try the chili or red pepper flakes or vinegar mixture today because she tore up all six of my baby tomato plants yesterday and I am still upset by it.

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