How to Save Roses From Dog Pee

In your yard, nothing is sacred if you have a dog.

Ever wonder why dogs, especially male dogs, seem to pee on everything? Indoors or outdoors, dog pee can be a big problem.

But dog pee can be especially lethal to your garden.

Dogs like to mark their territory when they pee, and they look for landmarks, anything that rises up from the ground at a decent height, including shrubs.

Rose bushes are one of the frequent victims of dog urine. It may not seem fair, with the high cost of roses these days, and how much you value your relationship with your rose-loving neighbor.

However, there are a few things you can do to save your roses (and your neighbor’s roses) from dog urine.

To save rose bushes from dog urine, you need to give your dog an appealing alternative place to pee, you need to dilute any urine that’s already in the ground, and you need to train your dog to avoid off-limits places in your yard and garden, just like you do in the house.

Give Your Dog An Alternative

Dogs are going to look for something tall to pee on: a street lamp, a parking meter, a tree in the park, and shrubs in your yard. Why they do this isn’t known for certain, but there’s a pretty good theory.

The theory is that dogs communicate via smells so much that marking landmarks in their territory is essential.

Their urine smell defines them to themselves and to other animals in the neighborhood. They want that unique, defining signal to be high enough for a nose to smell it, and for the wind to catch it.

While dog urine in the wind might not be our idea of good navigation, marking landmarks is important for many creatures.

Cats also have a way of doing this, although theirs involves seeing in the ultraviolet spectrum which in my opinion is way cooler than pee-maps.

However, rodents also follow pee-maps and it’s a well-established tradition among many animals.

Some have theorized that the reason dogs get so excited in the snow is because all their landmarks are covered in odor-neutralizing, cold white stuff! It’s rather difficult to say for sure what a dog is thinking.

Even though we can’t read their minds (yet), we can anticipate their behavior because we’ve seen it before.

We know they are going to go for the taller landmarks. So let’s give our dogs a gift they’ll appreciate much more than the twenty squeaky toys we’ve already given them.

Let’s give them something acceptable to pee on.

You can be creative with this. Install a lamppost in your yard, or a statue of a fire hydrant. Just make sure, if you go with the hydrant, that you don’t make it look too real. If your house is on fire, you don’t want any mix-ups for the firefighters.

You know your dog better than anyone. What attracts him or her? Maybe it’ll be a giant taco and you’ll hide it in the side yard. The possibilities are endless.

You just want to make sure you’re giving your dog something tall to mark as a landmark.

Kill two birds with one stone by putting up a decorative barrier between your roses and your dog’s part of the yard.

A white picket fence could be placed the perfect distance away from the rose to prevent any dog pee ever reaching it.

And your dog can pee on the fence instead, something much less emotionally difficult to replace if and when it gets ruined.

Dilute the Urine, Fast

But wait! If it’s too late and your dog already peed on a rose bush, there is a way to save it still!

Another important way to respond to your dog peeing on anybody’s roses is to dilute the pee. If it’s in your neighbor’s yard, explain what happened and ask for permission to try to dilute it. And apologize profusely, of course.

To dilute the urine in the ground before the excess nitrogen in dog urine can do serious damage to the rose plant’s roots, you want to use 3x as much water as there was urine, according to the University of Saskatchewan, College of Agriculture and Bioresources.

Pour the water right after the urine, forcing the liquid nitrogen (oh, that sounds dangerous) to spread farther down.

Remember that nitrogen can actually be good for plants in small amounts, but the amount in pet urine is a killer concentration. That kind of dose all at once can hit the roots and kill the plant.

That’s why it’s so important to dilute the urine before it can do any permanent damage.

Train Your Dog Where to Pee

The final piece of the puzzle is training. It’s really the most permanent solution after all the props and tricks.

This may seem like an unnecessary hassle, but a dog who knows her boundaries is a happy dog. This will really be best for you, your roses, and your dog.

One of my favorite things about dogs is how intelligent they are. They are capable of learning with consistent and repeated instruction and feedback.

Let’s face it, no matter how many tall things are in your yard, there’s always a chance your dog will go back to pee on the rose bush, or some other part of the yard you don’t want him near, unless you set boundaries.

Fences work well as boundaries for many dogs, but training makes the fences unnecessary.

Train your dog to pee in a specific place approved by you. When you take your dog out, repeatedly take her to The Spot. It’s really better if you’ve put a cartoony fire-hydrant sculpture there. But regardless, take her to The Spot.

Wait patiently until she pees and when she does, lavish praise on her. Give her a treat. Say, “Good girl!”

Patience is the key with training dogs because they can take a while to understand the consequences of their disobedience. Remember never to strike an animal. Animal abuse is no solution for anything.

Also, please don’t hold a grudge against your dog, no matter what he does. Dogs don’t have great long-term memories. Hence the peeing to identify landmarks. They remember you (and will forever), but not what they did this morning.

Often punishments given much later than the original crime only confuse a dog and cause anxiety. And anxiety causes more peeing.

With patience, the consistent use of rewards at just the right moment, and some creative decorating in your yard, you will be able to train your dog to stop peeing where he shouldn’t pee.

A Dog’s Love is Forever

If all else fails, remember that a dog’s love is forever, while roses give no real affection. I’m sure that’s not the final answer you came to this page looking for, but it had to be said.

At the end of the day, no matter what our fur monsters do, we love them because they absolutely adore us. That kind of relationship is worth dealing with broken boundaries, dead plants, and even stinky pee.

I hope these suggestions have been helpful for you and that you’ll give them a try.

As a mom with six children, three dogs, and 3 rose bushes (so far), I enjoyed figuring out how to keep my roses safe while keeping the dogs I love.

Good luck, dog-lovers and rose-gardeners alike!

Katrina Lantz

Katrina Lantz studies neuroscience at BYU. She is a curriculum developer at Ensign Peak Academy. She also writes under the pen name K.L. Lantz. Her published books include middle grade fiction: Drats, Foiled Again! and Bombs Away! and adult Christian inspiration: The Healing Bucket.

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