Why is My Dog Avoiding Grass?

Walking, running, playing, and lying on grass are perfectly natural and enjoyable activities for most dogs.

When you think of dogs going for walks, you would assume that they would be at their happiest on grass or mud instead of hard paths or roads.

But sadly, for some dogs, this isn’t the case. They either refuse to walk on grass or do so but don’t enjoy it.

This aversion to walking on grass seems to be a lifelong behavior for some. For others, it seems to develop out of nowhere.

What is going on here? Why is your dog avoiding grass, and what can you do about it? Let’s find out.

Why Won’t My Dog Walk On Grass? (11 Reasons Why)

The underlying reason why your dog won’t walk on grass is that it either dislikes the sensation of walking on it or is scared of the grass. This can be due to things like the grass being wet, sprayed with chemicals, or your dog has sore paws.

Below is a more detailed list of the most common reasons why your pet dog might not like to walk on grass.

Hopefully, one or more will resonate with you, and you can look at how to help your dog get over this aversion.

Or, if that’s not possible, how to help them still lead a happy life without walking on any grass.

NOTE – You might like to read this post we wrote about why dogs like snow.

1. Your Dog Has a Negative Association with Grass

It could be that a scary event happened on some grass, and your dog has associated the fear of the event with grass.

Every time you try to get them to walk on grass, it could be triggering their threat response systems and causing them to experience heightened levels of anxiety.

Solution – The best thing to do here would be to speak to a local dog behaviorist and see if they can train your dog not to associate grass with fear.

If you can’t afford to pay a behaviorist, there are some tips further down this post that could help you overcome this problem.

2. Your Dog Doesn’t Like Wet Grass

Some dogs have a natural aversion to wet grass. For whatever reason, they do not like the feeling of it on their feet.

Solution – You could try training your dog not to avoid the grass. Over time they might get used to the wetness.

Or you could try dog booties (see below for more advice on both of these suggestions).

3. Grass Could Have Been Treated with Chemicals

Your dog might be able to smell herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers that have been sprayed onto the grass, and it is these chemicals, rather than the grass, that the dog is avoiding.

Solution – Try walking your dog on some different areas of grass. Ideally, ones you know won’t have been sprayed with chemicals.

If the dog is fine in these other areas, you have solved your problem. If not, you need to keep on reading.

4. Your Dog May be Allergic to Grass

Some dogs can be born with an allergy to grass, and some can develop one later in life.

If your dog has such an allergy, they may subconsciously avoid grass, they might not know they have an allergy, but instinctively, they know to avoid it.

Solution – In the short term, avoid walking your dog on grass. Then, you can take them to your vet and get some professional advice on dealing with the allergy.

5. The Grass May Have the Scent of Other Animals

If your dog can smell other dogs or cats on a certain piece of grass, they might want to avoid it.

Depending on where you live, they may even be able to smell animals such as coyotes, bears, snakes, or even wolves and be scared of the grass due to the scent these wild animals have left.

Solution – Try different grass areas, including some yards or similar places where it’s less likely that other animals would have left their scent.

6. Your Dog Isn’t Used to Grass

If your dog is a young puppy or a rescue dog you have just brought home from the shelter, they might not be used to grass and could be wary of it because it is new to them.

Solution – Give them time and slowly allow them to get used to walking on grass (see further down for more help with this).

7. The Location is the Problem Not the Grass

Another potential reason why your dog won’t walk on grass could be that something is upsetting about the area where the grass is.

Maybe they have a negative association with the location, or perhaps it just scares them for no apparent reason.

Solution – Try taking them to some other areas and seeing how they react when you take them close to the grass.

8. They Have a Problem with Their Paws

Some dogs will avoid certain surfaces if they have an issue with their paws. This can be especially true if the grass is wet.

Solution – Gently and carefully examine each of the dog’s paws and check if they are sore, cut, damaged, or show signs of infection. Then, please take your dog to the vet.

9. They Don’t Like Long Grass

This can be especially true of smaller dogs, who can feel unsafe surrounded by longer, taller grass.

Try walking your dog on much shorter grass and seeing how they react.

10. They Don’t Like a Certain Type of Grass

There are many different types of grass in wilder areas but also yards, gardens, and parks.

Dogs have an incredibly acute sense of smell and can spot tiny differences like this, things that humans would never notice.

Your dog may have an aversion to a specific strain of grass and be okay with others.

Solution – Take your dog for walks on lots of different grassy areas, see how they react and see if you can spot any obvious patterns of which types of grass they do and don’t like.

11. They Are Going Through a Fear Period

Puppy fear periods are natural stages of a young dog’s development into adulthood.

During fear periods, puppies can become much more aware and scared of the world around them.

Things they weren’t scared of can suddenly become terrifying, and of course, this can include grass.

Solution – Give your puppy space and time to work through their fear period, don’t pressure them into walking on grass, but let them explore it in their own time.

How to Train Your Dog to Walk on Grass if it Doesn’t Like It

It is important not to force your dog into doing something it is scared of. This is cruel for the dog and can reinforce any fears they may have.

It is also important to bear in mind that it might not be possible to train your dog to walk on grass if it is very resistant.

With those two things said. You can give it a try, and with most dogs, there is a good chance that you should be able to succeed.

The training process to get the dog less scared of grass is one of gradual desensitization.

  1. Get your dog as close to grass as comfortable.
  2. Give the dog lots of reassurance, pets, and treats.
  3. Once the dog is relaxed, move them closer to the grass.
  4. Give the dog more reassurance, pets, and more treats.
  5. Repeat until the dog is right next to the grass.
  6. Put a treat on the grass within reach and let them eat it.
  7. Give the dog lots of reassurance and pets but no more treats.
  8. Put a treat on the grass just out of reach and encourage them to eat it.
  9. Repeat a few times, putting the treat further into the grass each time.
  10. Then give the dog a break, let them play, and relax.

You can repeat this process daily. Over time your dog should at least become accustomed to the grass and hopefully enjoy walking on it.

Do Dog Booties Work for Dogs that Avoid Grass?

Yes, for some dogs, giving them little boots to wear can help them overcome their fear of grass.

As you can see in this video, it can take dogs a while to get used to walking in them, but given time to practice; they will be able to walk normally:

 

What Should You Do If Your Dog Refuses to Walk on Grass?

If training or booties don’t work, you might have to accept that your dog will never be happy on grass, in which case you need to figure out ways to give them a happy life without it.

If you can find some hard trails, concrete, or gravel paths in your area for them to walk on, there is no reason they can’t stay fit and healthy without walking on any grass.

Conclusion

Your dog is avoiding grass either because it is scared of the grass or doesn’t like the sensation of walking on it.

You can try training them to get used to it or walk them with dog booties.

Or, if these two methods fail, take them for walks in places where they don’t have to walk on the grass.

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