How To Keep Dogs Out Of Mulch (8 Proven Ways)

Mulch is a great addition to any garden, providing vital nutrients and helping the soil retain moisture. But it can also pose some problems for gardeners – namely, dogs wanting to use the soft bed as their own personal playground! If you’re frustrated with constantly fixing your mulch from diggings and paw prints, then we’re here to help.

Why Does My Dog Love Mulch?

Dogs love mulch because it’s soft and fragrant and frankly, fun to dig up.

Canines love mulch mainly because of the smell. Decaying organic matter can be a delicious smell to your pet, especially if you include leftover food in your mulch or compost.

However; there are other reasons why your dog may spend an inordinate of time scrummaging, digging and even eating your mulch.

They may do it due to behavioral problems or just boredom. This tends to occur especially in dogs who do not spend enough time with their owners.

If your dog is hungry or is not eating enough nutrients, he or she may go looking for a food source elsewhere, such as in your garden and mulch.

Physical conditions like anemia or a gastrointestinal disorder may also be responsible for your dog’s mulch-obsessive personality. If you suspect this might be the case, be sure to take your pet to a vet.

Whilst it may make you feel happy to see your dog enjoying your newly mulched garden, your garden and plants will suffer as a result. On top of this, mulch may not be a safe environment for your dog.

Why Your Dog Should Stay Away From Mulch

Why Your Dog Should Stay Away From Mulch

Mulch can be dangerous to your dog’s health in a number of ways:

• Mulch can contain parasites and microorganisms that are toxic to dogs.

• If sharp objects like sticks or rocks have been put into the mulch, your dog could get cut.

• Dogs can become overheated when playing in mulch as it absorbs the sun’s heat.

One of the issues you may face is that your dog could simply ruin your flower bed. After all your hard work, the last thing you want to see is your dog destroying a manicured garden and digging up freshly planted flowers and vegetables. Worse still is seeing mulch brought into your house from your dogs’ paws and fur.

8 Ways To Keep Your Dog Away From Mulch

1. Use Smell Against Them

Dogs have an amazing sense of smell that is extremely sensitive. You can take advantage of this by using scents that dogs do not like and will effectively deter them from your garden and mulch.

Dogs dislike the smell of citrus. You can create a homemade solution by mixing lemon or lime juice with water and spraying it on the edges and on top of your mulch bed.

To further add to this, you can also create another scent that dogs dislike – cayenne pepper. Mix 1 part cayenne pepper with 10 parts water and apply to your mulch through a spray bottle.

If citrus and cayenne pepper don’t work, you may choose something stronger like vinegar. For an effective solution, mix 1 part vinegar with 5 parts water and apply it to your mulch.

Instead of these DIY methods, you can also purchase pet-repellent sprays. Opt for organic sprays that contain natural ingredients such as pepper, rosemary, citrus oil, and cayenne pepper.

2. Install Borders

An effective way to keep your dog out of mulch is to install physical barriers that will deter them from crossing over into the area. If you have large dogs, a fence or wall may be needed to keep an area off-limits. You may also decide to use stones, bricks, chicken wire, or other heavy objects to block access routes. This will be more effective against smaller dogs but is still a deterrent for large dogs as well.

3. Train Your Pet

While it may take more effort to train your dog, this can be one of the most effective means for keeping them away from mulch. Positive reinforcement training is usually the best approach for getting a pet to obey commands and stay away from certain areas.

4. Install Wire

Use chicken or netted wire and install this just above the soil in your garden. This will still allow plants and flowers to grow and will act as an additional barrier to prevent your dog from accessing the mulch or digging in the soil.

We know that using wire can be an ugly sight, so it’s a good idea to set up the wire in a way that makes it easy to remove. You can attach the wire to stakes around the garden, and then unhook the wire and roll it up with one of the stakes.

5. Use Motion-Activated Sprinklers

This is a great way to keep your dog away without having to be there all the time. Motion-activated sprinklers detect movement and serve as a deterrent, spraying your dogs out of your garden with water. Be aware, that this will only be effective for dogs that don’t like water!

6. Create A Path

Maybe your dog is actually trodding over and mucking up your mulch because it is trying to get from one area of your garden to another. If this is the case, you may decide to set up a path for easy access for you and your pet.

7. Make The Mulch Bed Uncomfortable To Lay On

A dog won’t want to lay or play around mulch if it is uncomfortable to do so. There are a couple of things you can do to achieve this:

  • Set some thorny branches on the ground on the perimeter and throughout your mulch bed.
  • Hammer in short stakes through your garden.

The uneven and somewhat painful surface will cause your dog to not want to be around these areas.

8. Distract Your Dog

If you are playing with your dog in the garden, he or she won’t have time to play in the mulch.

But what can you do when you are not around?

Creating a play area with sand, soil, bushes, and toys can be a great alternative and distract your pet from scrummaging through the mulch and your flower bed.

What Is The Best Mulch To Keep Dogs Out?

Mulches that are less attractive to dogs can be used to help reduce the chances of your dog digging in areas where you don’t want it to.

Cedar mulch is often thought of as a good option for this, as its strong smell can keep dogs away from certain areas. Pine needles, grass clippings, and shredded leaves also have a strong smell that can keep dogs away from areas where you don’t want them digging.

Ensure these mulches are finely shredded (or purchased as a fine mulch) so your dog won’t chew on them. If your dog happens to eat some, they are small enough to be easily digestible.


Will coffee grounds keep dogs out of the garden?

Yes, coffee grounds are another option for keeping dogs out of your garden. The smell of coffee is unappealing to most dogs, and sprinkling used coffee grounds around the perimeter of your garden can act as a deterrent.

What kind of mulch will dogs not eat?

Some mulches that are less appealing to dogs include cedar, pine needles, grass clippings, and shredded leaves. These types of mulches have strong smells that can help keep dogs away from areas where you don’t want them digging or playing.

What scent stops dogs from digging?

Some scents that can help stop dogs from digging include citrus, chili peppers, and vinegar.

These strong scents are unappealing to most dogs and can deter them from areas where you don’t want them digging. You can also try using essential oils such as peppermint or eucalyptus to create a natural barrier around your garden or yard.

Additionally, certain plants such as lavender, rosemary, and marigolds have scents that dogs dislike and can be planted strategically to help prevent digging.

What is the best homemade dog repellent?

Some popular homemade dog repellents include vinegar spray, citrus oil spray, and chili pepper water.

These options are natural and non-toxic, making them safe for both your dog and your plants.

You can also try creating a barrier with cayenne pepper or coffee grounds, as these smells are unappealing to most dogs.

What kind of mulch is safe for dogs?

The safest mulch for dogs is wood-based mulch like shredded bark, cypress mulch, and pine bark nuggets.

These options are all non-toxic and won’t harm your dog if they happen to ingest some while playing in the yard. It’s important to avoid using cocoa bean shells in areas where your dog may be tempted to eat them, as they can be toxic if consumed in large quantities. Another safe option is to use rubber mulch, which may be more durable and long-lasting than organic options.

Are cocoa bean shells safe for dogs?

No, cocoa bean shells are not safe for dogs. They can be toxic if consumed in large quantities and should be avoided in areas where your dog may be tempted to eat them.

If you suspect that your dog has consumed cocoa bean shells, it’s important to seek veterinary care immediately. Symptoms of toxicity may include vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, and seizures.

2 thoughts on “How To Keep Dogs Out Of Mulch (8 Proven Ways)”

    • Hi SJ. My mistake, good spot! I’ve initially said 1 part water with 5 parts water which does not make any sense! It’s been updated now with the vinegar component!


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