My dog eats dirt


I live in west Toronto. I have a yard that is 25ft by 75 ft with a variety of plantings. I have a young dog that is eating buckets of dirt; he eats approx 2 cups a day. Is there something I can spray the yard with that will not hurt him or the garden? As with all city yards I have raccoons, skunks and neighbourhood cats that pass through. My dog has been treated for parasites twice. I have asked the vet about how to change the behaviour and the only suggestion is some kind of deterrent. Any help is much appreciated.


This is a difficult issue which in terms of canine behaviour is beyond the scope of the Toronto Master Gardeners.  We do not recommend specific products, nor endorse any homemade remedies, however, that being said, there are commercial products available which are formulated to deter city wildlife, including canines, without causing them physical harm.

In terms of the design and planting of your garden, you may want to consider introducing some low plantings – ground covers such as Ajuga (bugle weed) or other dense, low growing perennial plants – that would reduce the amount of bare soil in the garden.  Expanding your lawn’s area would also achieve this.  Here is a link to the Toronto Master Gardeners’ guides on lawns and ground covers that you may find helpful:

You might also consider the use of a flexible edging at an appropriate height to deter your dog around your plantings and confine him to a grassed or hardscaped part of the garden.  There are many attractive examples available at nurseries and home centres.

I hope this is helpful in addressing your challenging situation.