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How to Protect Trees from Dog Urine: 8 Tips to Try Today

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Even if you don’t necessarily see it explained in scientific terms, you’ll see the effects that dog urine can have on the health of trees all over your local area, whether that be a town or city, on the sidewalk, outside apartment buildings, or in any of the parks you live by. 

You should be able to work out from this that dog pee has a significant effect on trees, and it can actually cause quite a bit of damage that you may want to protect your trees from. 

Aside from refusing to let your dog go and do their business outside where there is access to the tree (which, even if it solves the problem of tree protection, seems like it would open up a whole new world of undesirable indoor pee locations), how else can you protect your tree? 

This article is going to take a look at 8 of the best top tips for protecting trees against dog urine so that you can keep your garden fresh and free from patches of dog pee on trees.

Dog urinating on tree

8 Tips for Protecting Your Trees Against Dog Pee

1. Install a Pee Guard

Nope, we don’t mean you should hire someone to act as a bodyguard for your tree just to protect it from your dog’s urine! A pee guard is actually a useful tool that can be used to keep your dog from getting close enough to the tree that their urine arc doesn’t hit its target.

They’re similar to Christmas tree skirts in terms of their concept, which is that they wrap around the base of the tree’s bark to act as a fence that enforces the dog’s distance.  

It’s one of the most popular methods for protecting your trees against dog pee due to its simplicity and how easy it is to use them. Just make sure when you’re choosing which model of pee guard to buy that it’s big enough to fit your tree, as they’re available in different sizes.

2. Use “Dog Rocks” in Your Dog’s Drinking Water

You’re probably wondering how on earth adding rocks that are marketed for dogs to their drinking water will help you protect your trees from dog pee, but stick with us on this one. 

They’re a little bit like whiskey stones, only instead of keeping your drink cool without watering it down, dog rocks eliminate some of the impurities that are damaging your trees.

Dog Rocks” can be added to your dog’s drinking water and they will help reduce the level of ammonia, nitrates, and any other type of impurities typically found in dog urine. This means that, if and when your dog relieves themselves against your tree, they’re less likely to leave lasting damage, as there will be less of these substances to harm the bark.

3. Repel the Smell with Dog Repellent 

Dog pee can cause an unpleasant odor if it’s left to build up through your dog choosing to urinate in the same spot frequently, but using dog repellent can keep the area clear and allows the tree bark to have a bit of breathing room without another layer of pee descending.

Plus, if there are other pooches damaging the trees on your property, a dog repellent that contains natural substances such as peppers and capsaicin can keep the strays at bay and on the other side of your property line due to their unpleasant smell and taste for dogs. 

The best type of repellent to use is a pellet or granules formula which can be sprinkled around the base of the tree to protect the bark from being peed on.

4. Install a Motion Sensor Water Sprayer 

Some dogs like to play with the water hose on a hot summer’s day, but most of them dislike being sprayed with water, and some people can be overzealous in their use of water spraying to discourage their dog (or worse, other people’s dogs) from peeing on trees. 

Getting a little water-hose-spraying-happy can cause an unhappy pup or even an unhappy set of neighbors if you’ll turn the spray toward any dog who gets close to your precious trees. 

We would therefore recommend using a subtler, less aggressive alternative like a motion sensor that sets off a gentle spray of water when it senses your dog getting too close. They’re often easy to install by simply sticking them in the ground and connecting to a hose.

5. Set Up Chemical Treatment Signs 

Yep. Any dog would take one look at a sign that says “chemical treatments used on grass” and would turn tail and run. Just kidding, obviously, seeing as dogs can’t read. Other dog owners, however, can read and might be more respectful of your property once they have.

You can, of course, put up signs simply asking dog owners not to allow their dogs to urinate on your property or trees, but unfortunately, there is no way to make sure that they will listen. Luckily, however, you can buy pretty realistic-looking pesticide treatment signs on Amazon.

6. Toilet Training

Having a designated pee area when your dog is a puppy and you’re still toilet training them will be a huge help later in your pup’s life when you’re trying to keep them from peeing on the trees in your garden, as they should already know to go in their special designated area.

It’s not necessarily a method that will work particularly well later on in your dog’s life, especially if they’ve already formed the habit of peeing on the trees in your garden. 

However, despite the saying, it’s been proven on multiple occasions that you can in fact teach an old dog new tricks, so there’s nothing to be lost by rewarding your dog with a tasty treat whenever they urinate somewhere away from the trees, and there is plenty of helpful training information to be found online that can help you train your dog to pee in a new spot.

7. Wash The Pee off The Tree With Water

Washing your trees… If you could stick with us on “dog rocks”, then you can wait until the end of this tip to reserve judgment. Washing the bark of your trees with water may seem like a fool’s errand, but it can be a big help in avoiding permanent damage from dog pee.

Water will dilute your dog’s urine to stop any of the substances contained in their pee from causing too much damage to the bark or roots of the tree. You can simply fill a bucket with water or use a garden hose to wash the affected area down and clear away the urine. 

This will get rid of the substances in dog pee that seem to have a negative impact on tree health, meaning there’s less chance of damage occurring. 

It does mean that you’ll have to be pretty vigilant about watching your dog when they go out to do their business, but if nothing else works, this can be a decent backup plan for when your other tree-protecting contingencies don’t work out. 

8. Add Mulch to the Base of the Bark 

Our final tip involves adding a mound of mulch around the base of your tree to keep your dogs from peeing on them. Don’t go using the first mulch you see at the pet store, however, as there’s a specific type of mulch that dogs will typically avoid going to the toilet on.

Mulch that is made up of tree chippings, for example, will only encourage your dog to cock a leg and relieve themselves, whereas mulch that contains things your dog will want to avoid standing on will mean they avoid doing their business on the bark of your favorite tree. 

Try to look for mulch that is made up of prickly types of trees and bushes, then pile it around the base of your tree, and hopefully your dog will choose to pee elsewhere next time.

Why Does Dog Pee Damage Healthy Trees?

Dog urinating on tree

There is no scientific explanation as to why dog urine can have a damaging effect on tree bark, but the evidence tends to speak for itself and shows that it definitely damages it in some way. However, many experts have their own views and opinions on this subject. 

Some of the main reasons why dog pee can damage healthy trees include: 

  1. Kills tree bark: The ammonium toxicity that can be caused by a build-up of dog urine can potentially damage the cambium tissue that resides underneath the bark. If the bark is bare in patches the tree has a higher risk of infection and bacterial disease.
  2. Dehydrates tree roots: Dog urine contains high traces of salt, and this can cause the topsoil to become hard making it difficult for water to penetrate the soil so it can reach the roots, leaving them lacking. 
  3. Lowers the soil’s pH level: Due to the sensitivity of pH values, the fact that a dog’s urine can lower a tree’s pH level even slightly can have a huge effect on its health. 

You’ll notice that the trees which suffer the worst damage from dog pee tend to be the ones that reside right outside apartment buildings. This is because the people living inside are sharing one doggy pee spot, and are likely all using the same tree for their dog’s urine.

In some cities, it even got so bad that they had to put up posters and signs that showed which trees were already too damaged for your dog to do their business against to try and help protect the trees from dog pee and the resulting damage. 

Why Do Dogs Like to Pee on Trees?

Wouldn’t you, if you could? 

In all seriousness, there’s no way of knowing for certain why it is that our furry friends like to cock a leg and take a leak on your favorite tree, causing the bark around its base to become damaged or otherwise affected by the health issues that come from dog pee.

Ultimately, your dog urinating on things is part of their nature and an evolutionary process, meaning it’ll take a bit more than just asking nicely if you want to get your dog to stop. 

There are experts in canine behavior, however, who have argued that there are a few reasons behind why your dog chooses to pee on things like trees, signs, or fire hydrants.

One of the main reasons why dogs like to pee on trees and similar objects is because this is how dogs mark their territory, especially if it’s a tree that’s situated on your property. This acts as a repellent to other dogs, signaling that there is another dog on the premises. 

On the other hand, it could also be a friendly sign to other dogs, sort of a social stop point that tells other dogs in the area that you’ve been by. Dogs are also able to differentiate between the different urine scents which tells them about the urinater’s gender as a unique identifier. They can even detect whether another dog is available to mate through their urine. 

Final Thoughts 

Unfortunately, once they have formed the habit of urinating on a particular tree in your yard or front lawn, it’s unlikely that you will be able to train your dog to stop peeing on trees entirely. You have even less control over the actions of other peoples’ dogs, so preventative measures are the best way forward if you want to protect your trees from dog pee.

The methods detailed in this article are also possible ways to protect your trees by preventing your dog from peeing on them, but every dog is totally unique with an individual personality, so you might need to trial a few before you find a method that works. 

In some cases, the best option is to combine a few of these preventative measures to see if they work better together than as individual practices. 

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.