How to Use Coffee Grounds to Stop Dogs Digging? (DIY) 

Some dogs love to dig. Ratter-type dogs like Terriers and Yorkies are especially infamous for their digging. 

That’s natural. Ratters are bred to find and eliminate prey, and their little noses still work overtime to do their job. 

coffee grounds to stop dogs digging
How to use coffee grounds to stop dogs digging? (DIY)

Like anything, it can be charming the first half-dozen times it happens. Unfortunately, the ratter instinct to pursue a smell doesn’t have boundaries, and in persistent diggers, this can come at the expense of your garden. 

So, how do you stop a dog from digging up your garden? The answer lies closer to home than you might expect. Here’s how to use coffee grounds to stop dogs from digging. 

Bitter Smells and Dogs 

Dogs love smells, and some dogs enjoy digging to get to the root of a scent. But if you want to protect your bulbs, one of the best ways to do it is by using bitter smells. 

Indoors, we coat floors and furniture with bitter apple to keep the dogs from chewing and digging. It’s a success, but we wouldn’t trust the chemical composition on plants. 

So, we had to get more creative about bitter smells to repel the dogs from their morning dig in the raised beds. 

dog sniffing the grass
A dog sniffing the grass.

Using Coffee Grounds to Stop Dogs Digging  

Coffee phobia is a common phenomenon in dogs, so is an effective way of deterring your favorite digger from excavating the garden. But how do you do this? 

applying coffee grounds to soil
A woman applying coffee grounds to the soil to deter dogs from plants.

DIY Coffee Grounds to Discourage Digging 

When it comes to using coffee grounds to stop dogs from digging, the process isn’t complicated. 

The most effective way of doing this is to take your morning coffee grounds and sprinkle them over the garden where your pup digs the most. You can leave the grounds sitting on top of the soil to help your dog smell them. Alternatively, mix them carefully into the soil.

That way, your keen-scented dog will still smell them but will have less contact with the grounds.

That done, watch your dog. The bitter scent of the coffee should deter them from their usual digging place. 

Is Coffee Safe for Dogs?   

That’s a good question, and it’s why supervision is crucial. Once you sprinkle coffee grounds on the lawn or garden to stop dogs from digging, you now need to make sure they don’t ingest the grounds. 

Since most dogs are averse to the smell of coffee, that shouldn’t be a problem. But dogs are like people, and they react to smells differently.  

But, if your dog likes coffee or doesn’t find the smell repellent, you may have a problem. Dogs that ingest coffee grounds are at risk for caffeine poisoning.  

Luckily, symptoms come on within the first hour or two of ingestion. And if you are using coffee grounds to stop a dog digging, you won’t have to work too hard to locate the source of the problem. Watch for symptoms like:

  • Increased urination
  • Vomiting 
  • Increased thirst
  • Panting 
  • Atypical heartbeat

Keep in mind that the amount of coffee grounds needed to trigger symptoms in dogs depends on the size of your pet. A Yorkie will react faster and more severely than a Standard Poodle that absorbs the same amount of coffee grounds. 

dog sniffs on the ground
A dog sniffs on the ground.

Will Coffee Grounds Harm My Plants? 

Now we’ve established that using coffee grounds to stop your dog from digging is straightforward and that your dog should be safe, provided they keep away from the coffee, the next question to ask is: Will coffee grounds hurt my plants? 

After all, if you are putting coffee grounds on the flowerbeds to keep your dog out, it stands to reason you’d like to enjoy your garden, not kill it. 

This also depends on the garden. Just as different dogs react differently to the smell of coffee grounds, different plants react differently, too. 

To complicate the issue, how your flowers respond to coffee grounds in their soil also changes depending on the type of soil you have. Coffee is highly acidic, and you need to be aware that adding it to your soil makes your soil more acidic by extension. 

For acid-loving plants, that’s not an issue. But for plants that need a more basic or alkaline soil, coffee may not be the answer. 

a boston terrier in a flowery field
A Boston Terrier in a flowery field.

Are There Alternatives to Coffee Grounds to Keep My Dog Out of the Garden? 

Maybe your dog is of the variety that enjoys the smell of coffee. Or perhaps you want a less acidic solution for a delicate part of the garden. 

Luckily, if you can’t use coffee grounds to keep your dog from digging, there are alternatives.

An orange peel can use to repel dogs.

Orange Peel 

The most prevalent is orange peel because just as dogs don’t like bitter smells, they also dislike citrus.

Like coffee, orange peel has the advantage of being an organic substance that easily dissolves into your soil with time. Since it’s also a smell dogs can’t stand, it should deter them from digging. 

Also, like coffee, it has an acidic composition, so that won’t solve your soil problem. 


Likewise, vinegar is an effective way to discourage digging but is still strongly acidic. 

Cayenne Pepper 

Another popular and natural method of discouraging digging among dog owners is cayenne pepper. Sprinkle some over your soil instead of coffee grounds and watch your dog’s nose wrinkle in horror. 

Cayenne also has the benefit of being strongly alkaline once absorbed by the body or soil. So, if you need to maintain an alkaline rather than acidic soil pH, it may be your best bet.   

Conclusion: How to Use Coffee Grounds to Stop Dogs Digging? 

When it comes to using coffee grounds to keep your dog out of the garden, the process is simple. Take your morning coffee filter or Bodum and tip the contents into the soil. 

Mix it in effectively, but not too deeply. That done, make sure you monitor your dog. They should stay away from the coffee grounds, but if not, ensure they don’t eat any. 

And remember, it’s possible using coffee grounds to discourage digging may affect the quality of your soil. If you notice this happening, it may be time to consider other alternatives

Luckily, there’s a variety of smells dogs dislike, and you should be able to find one that keeps your dog out of the flowers and the flowers thriving.