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Your Dog Is Suddenly Afraid of Grass: Why & What to Do?

dog suddenly afraid of grass

If your dog is suddenly afraid of grass or avoids walking on it, there could be some reasons behind it. Maybe the grass is wet, or he has an allergy to the smell of chemicals like pesticides and fertilizer present in the grass, or he feels slippery while walking or cold and unpleasant, or he had a bad experience with tall grass or strange animals around. 

You can get your dog to walk on the grass by using methods such as basic training for dogs, always taking them for walks, trying booties for their paws, giving treats to coax them, and so on.

So let’s try to understand those reasons and potential solutions for getting your dog to walk on the grass.

Reasons Why Your Dog Is Suddenly Afraid of Walking on Grass 

If you are unsure why your dog turned down to walk on grass, here are some points to consider before giving up on your dog. 

The grass is wet, slippery, or maybe the dog has cuts on its paws 

wet grass

Some dogs don’t like the feeling of wet grass. The moisture present in the grass makes their paws damp and get easily caught by bacteria or yeast infection. Generally, dogs love to play in the grass, but sometimes they feel cold and unpleasant from the wet grass that sticks to their feet. In addition, the wet grass surface is slippery. Your pet dog might have slipped in the damp grass, or it might have cuts on its paws. When the moisture seeps inside it, your dog suffers from pain. Your dog doesn’t want its wounds to get wet. It could be why your dog doesn’t walk in the grass. 

Maybe there are fire ants or other insects in grass

fire ants or other insects in grass

The presence of fire ants or red ants in the grass can be a reason why your dog is afraid of grass. The fire ants release toxins when biting, and such a bite could cause pain, red itchy skin, and allergies to your dog. In addition, if too many fire ants attack your dog at once, then your dog could go into an anaphylactic shock which could be fatal. So, keep your dog away from ants in the grass and consult a vet in an emergency.

Your dog is allergic to grass

Some dogs are allergic to the grass, just like humans. Allergy is caused by pollen present in the grass. A grass allergy can cause excessive scratching (bald spots), licking, sneezing, redness on the skin, running of the eyes and nose, diarrhea, and vomiting. It is one common reason why dogs don’t walk in the grass. If you suspect any of these symptoms in your pet, kindly visit the vet for treatment.  

Maybe the grass is dry and prickly

Dogs don’t like to walk on the grass, which hurts them. Dry grass pricks into their paws and stops them from going in the grass. The dry grass is sharp and spiky, like foxtails. While walking in the grass, this dry (foxtail) grass irritates them. It is dangerous for dogs as it can burrow through the skin and cause serious infections. Therefore your dog doesn’t walk in the grass.

Your dog had a bad experience with grass

Your dog might have suffered some traumatic experiences in the grass. For example, they might have faced some thunderstorms or heavy rain while on the grass. Or your dog has been terrified by fireworks. Or they might be heavily beaten after walking on wet grass before. Any bad experience after walking on grass could lead to such behavior. These could be the possible reasons behind your dog not walking in the grass. 

The grass is treated with toxic fertilizer or pesticides

Dogs have a great sense of smell. They can easily smell the powerful scents of pesticides and fertilizers. Grass treated with toxic fertilizers or pesticides can lead a dog to avoid walking on grass. The smell of chemically toxic fertilizer or pesticides makes your dog stop going toward the grass or some chemically treated plants near the grass. Getting your dog away from that grass and taking them to another grassy area is recommended. 

The grass is too tall

tall grass

The tall grasses can make your dog avoid walking in it. This is because tall grass tickles and irritates their body. You surely have seen this thing if you have small dogs like chihuahuas and dachshunds. Because of their short height, this tall grass tickles and pokes into their skin. This makes them uncomfortable and stops them from going in the grass. 

Strange animals around

The dogs can sense the smell of other animals, insects, reptiles, etc. your dog might also detect that strange smell which leads to avoiding going on grass.  

Why does my dog hate grass?

Not all dogs hate to walk on the grass. Some dogs love to walk and play in the grass. If your dog hates all types of grass, whether wet or dry, it is his natural aversion to it. Some dogs are allergic to grass. They get excessive scratching, skin redness, sneezing, etc., due to wet grass. It is recommended to consult the vet if you see any signs of allergic reactions from grass. Also, some dogs hate grass because of bad experiences in the past or strange animals around the grass. That is why your dog hates grass. 

Is wet grass bad for dogs?

Wet grass is not bad or harmful for dogs. If the grass is treated with chemicals like pesticides or fertilizers, then it is bad for dogs. If your dogs’ paws remain wet, it can cause infections like dermatitis. You can try dog shoes for them to avoid irritation and infection. But, overall it is not bad for them. 

Should I force my dog to walk on the grass?

Never force a dog to walk on grass if they don’t want to. This can only make them more fearful. Forcing a dog shows bad, or we can say negative reinforcement. Instead of forcing them, try different methods which show positive reinforcement. For example, you can do the below methods like basic training, take them for a walk, treat them to coax them, follow you and command them, etc. by these methods, and your dog will start walking in the grass.

Possible ways to get your dog to walk on grass:

Begin with basic training

First, begin with basic training like walking on the lawn. Just give them some treats when they walk on the grass to show them that your grass lawn is not frightening. Or you can try fake grass for them. Once they are comfortable with the fake grass, start using real grass for the walk. You can play fun games like fetch, or you can try treats like biscuits to put on the grass and let them come and eat. This will encourage them to walk in the grass. Gradually they will learn to walk on the grass.  

Always take them for a walk

Yes, you heard it right. This is the most important thing to remember: only walking makes them comfortable with the grass, otherwise, your dog will never walk on it. Just make sure whenever you go outside for a walk take your dog along with you. Put a leash on your dog and try to make them walk. If he sits and doesn’t move, try to push it a little bit towards the grass. They will eventually learn that they have no choice but to go on the grass. Don’t forget to praise them every time they walk on it. 

Use a treat to coax them to follow you and use the command

Positive reinforcement is essential in dog training. You can use commands like come, step out if you have to walk your furry friend on grass. You can use the bribing method. Bribe them with dog biscuits, boiled chicken or dog bones, etc. 

Simple steps you can teach your dog to walk on the grass:

  • Show your dog treats things such as boiled chicken.
  • Throw it on the grass as far as possible.
  • Just wait patiently until they go near the treat. 
  • Praise them with the reward.
  • Repeat this process until they get comfortable.

This process will take a lot of time, but it will be satisfying once their fear is gone.

Try a dog shoes for your dog

Wet grass makes your dog afraid. Many dogs won’t go in the grass because they don’t like their paws to get wet. Try little booties for your dog. This may sound a little weird, but trust us, this will work for your grass-hater pet. Initially, it would make them uncomfortable, but after some time, they will become comfortable with the booties. This is the best way to get your dog to walk on the grass.   

Expose them to another surface

If you have a dog who’s been sheltered in the past or had a bad experience with the wet grass, try to expose them to other surfaces like pavement, sand, etc. you can start with a place filled with gravel and sand and paved. A gravel pathway is the best option for a start. They will become more comfortable with the other surface rather than wet grass. After some time, gradually try to walk your dog on the grass. In this way, you can teach your dog to get its feet on the grass. 

Consult a veterinarian

If your dog has an allergy to the grass or shows signs of allergic reaction to grass like itching on skin, redness, sneezing, excessive scratching, licking, etc. Consult them at the vet so they can be treated and not get worse. He will prescribe them some medications for the allergic reaction that can give relief to your dog. 

What did we learn from all this?

We have discussed here the possible reasons dogs do not walk on the grass. Also, we have discussed the possible methods to get your dog to walk on the grass. You can adapt the ways to get your dog to walk on grass on your own, or you can look out for a dog behaviorist or veterinarian. 

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anuja saxena author at anifirm

I am a dog lover who spent her childhood in the company of a friendly Labrador Retriever. I believe that pets make our lives more enjoyable and stress-free. So, here I am, attempting to share my experiences and knowledge to improve the lives of pets and pet owners.