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Chewed

September 19, 2010

Then, and now

The scene of devastation, above, is not the result of ravaging locusts, neglect or extreme heat. As the inset shows, this yellow sedum used to be lush and golden … but that was last March, and before sibling terrors, Frito and Inky, got their paws and jaws on it. How can I keep my beloved succulents safe? Is it possible for a couple of manic chihuahuas to coexist with these plants without me thinking of adopting them out? …

Naughty from the start

Is this plant pillaging a new behavior? Nope … Frito and Inky came to us with what I considered a puppy’s ostentatious curiosity and energy. Nibbling a spiked agave’s leaf tip was, surprisingly, not a problem. So, when they moved on to the plump fuzzy leaves of another succulent I almost expected it. More surprising was their compulsion to chew up any relic of Paul’s they could spirit out the doggy door. A tie he’d hung on his doorknob never stood a chance, and once they got it outside it was summarily gutted and used for tug-of-war. I don’t hold these infractions against the dogs, they’re still pups after all. But I am frustrated.

Pillager of pots

Their first birthday will be next February, and both dogs have grown considerably. Because they’re bigger they can reach more plants more easily, even those in pots. The photo above, taken yesterday, shows Frito working on one of his latest projects: the ongoing obliteration of what used to be a pot-full of big red flapjack kalanchoes. He’s taken it down to sad nubs, and I’m afraid once he considers the project finished he’ll move on to the crested specimen next door. Aside from putting all my pots and plants on platforms they can’t scale, I’m stumped as to how to stop this behavior. Suggestions, please!

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. Donita Smith permalink
    September 19, 2010 6:38 pm

    Grrr… What is it with dogs and their agendas? When our mutt, Boz, was a puppy we tried everything to keep him out of the plants. The products they sell at the pet store didn’t work. Working Tabasco into the dirt didn’t work. Then I read something interesting. When you scoop their poop, try putting some of it in the planter next to the plants. We started putting it into all of the holes he dug and it didn’t take him long to stop. It’s unpleasant, I know, but it worked and pretty quick too.

    Of course, that didn’t help any of his other maddening behaviors like peeing on everything in sight, including someone’s picnic basket when we took him to the river.

    My other suggestion would be to put the prickly plants near the ground and the softer temptations up high.

    Good luck.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      September 19, 2010 7:02 pm

      Thanks, Donita … interesting ideas … I agree: the pet store put-offs don’t work! Thanks for commenting.

  2. Mrs. Marriott permalink
    September 19, 2010 8:12 pm

    Dogs! Sometimes I feel like my dog is a drunk relative from overseas who doesn’t speak any English, and it’s my responsibility to keep her out of trouble. Also, she’s deaf. Not an easy task, for sure. One thing that definitely helped was taking her to obedience classes. We went to the PetSmart, which was pretty nice. Free treats! It was good for bonding, and it helped me to learn to pick up her cues, and anticipate her actions. She also learned how to read me, and I like to think we understand each other fairly well. As long as we’re not out in public. Or at the dog park. Or the beach. We’re still learning, though.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      September 19, 2010 8:35 pm

      Love your analogy; mine seem like unruly children who could benefit from more supervision … obedience classes are probably the ticket. Your dog’s lucky to have such an understanding mistress. Thanks for the comment!

      • Mrs. Marriott permalink
        September 21, 2010 8:09 am

        I forgot to mention exercise. My dog always starts acting crazy when I’m too busy (or lazy) to give her the regular walks, or trips to the park. They can’t get into trouble if they’re too worn out to move, right?

      • reubix1 permalink*
        September 21, 2010 12:03 pm

        Hmmm … couldn’t hurt!

  3. September 19, 2010 11:17 pm

    Oh Lordy, I would be very agitated indeed if anything, man or beast, ate my K. Flapjacks ! Not winter hardy here and I coddle it indoors for it’s protection -thank god my cats only eat Nepeta!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      September 20, 2010 1:42 am

      Agitated, I am … I just finished watering and noticed more signs of succulent noshing on the part of the poochies!

  4. September 20, 2010 4:20 am

    Yikes! I am glad we got an older dog! I think Donita is on to something with the spiky/prickly plants. They will learn to stay away because it hurts! (sounds mean but it;s only once…)

    • reubix1 permalink*
      September 20, 2010 4:42 am

      You would think that the prickles would repel but the poochies seem to be impervious!

  5. September 20, 2010 4:06 pm

    I started growing my succulents on pedestals and plinths to minimize the snail damage, and that does work. Kind of a similar concept. It’s disappointing to have to make accommodations but interesting ideas do result from challenges like Frito and Inky, the little rascals. I’ve read spraying plants in danger of chewing with a mixture of a cup of water and one-quarter to one-half cup of Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper might deter the pups.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      September 20, 2010 4:12 pm

      I like the Tabasco idea; I just hope that because of the dog’s Mexican roots, they don’t find this to be salsa for succulent chips!

  6. September 21, 2010 12:13 am

    Inky and Frito are just expressing their artistic side thru plant pruning. You might have to send them to live with us!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      September 21, 2010 12:31 am

      You and I both know DeeDee would never endorse this plan!

  7. Megan permalink
    September 21, 2010 2:38 pm

    Wholly crap! Have you tried Bitter Apple? It’s super nasty stuff. Wear gloves if you decide to spray it to avoid getting it on your fingers. Good luck in puppy proofing! Our former upstairs neighbor had a 70 pound dog who liked to trample our beds. I cried the first time it happened. Super sweet dog, but I’m happy she’s found a sunny new home in the Castro.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      September 21, 2010 3:10 pm

      Bitter Apple? Never heard of it… but I will be checking into it… As for your former furry neighbor: it’s a lucky dog that ends up in a sunny home in the Castro!

  8. June 11, 2011 10:38 pm

    I agree with the comments that offer suggestions of both exercise and obedience classes. My 14+month old ‘new dog’ is doing really well at classes, and is acting and responding differently to me at home, as well.

    I’m not sure you will be able to stop them from wanting to nibble plants, this is hardwired into dogs. Some dogs hardly do it, others do it a lot.

    Two more ideas:

    Look into the Kong (or Kong style) chewy bones. If they are noshing on the fleshy succulents because they like the sensation of gnawing on a spongy texture, you can try redirecting them to an approved chew.

    My second suggestion is to incorporate a low pot full of regular old turf grass. My dogs love to nibble the Bermuda grass I have in a recycled container. I was just testing to see if the seed was still viable. They think it’s the cat’s meow. Your dogs might eat all of it, when the mood hits them. If they do, I see two containers, one ‘back of house’ and out of their reach, and one down in their path for consumption, switch the two as necessary.

    I suspect you can find quirky containers or ensemble to surround this buffet to incorporate it into your unique style!

    Good luck with them. It’s frustrating to love a dog and not have it understand why you are mad and hopping up and down (again).

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 11, 2011 11:35 pm

      We’ve pretty much weathered the plant chewing phase … finally. Today I did look out the window to find Inky nesting — literally — atop the same sedum they used to chow down on, but she’s so light she almost left no impression… ; )

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