5 Ways to Stop Your Dog From Attacking Your Sprinkler

Gemma Johnstone
Written by Gemma Johnstone
Updated October 15, 2021
dog playing with sprinkler
SDI Productions via Getty Images

Tackling your dog’s obsession with the sprinkler doesn’t have to be tough for either of you

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If your dog loves to cool down in the spray of a sprinkler, this can be a good thing on a hot day. But when they’re constantly attacking the sprinkler, apart from the cost and inconvenience of replacing it, there are other reasons why you should intervene. Obsessive behavior isn’t healthy for your dog’s overall state of mind and stress levels. Not to mention, chewing on a sprinkler head and fixtures could be rough on your pup’s chompers.

Learn how to stop your dog from attacking your sprinkler through a combination of training, management, and enrichment.

How to Stop Your Dog From Attacking Sprinklers

How you tackle your dog’s sprinkler obsession will depend on why they’re doing it in the first place. Some dogs just love water, and their habit may have gotten a bit out of hand. Certain breed types may be prone to compulsive chasing behaviors, while others may be bored or even fearful of the sprinklers. Adopting a combination of techniques is likely to have the best success.

1. Management

One of the easiest ways to prevent your dog from attacking the sprinkler is keeping them out of the yard when the system is emitting water. If this isn’t possible, ideally, someone should supervise their garden time to intervene if a problem starts. 

Some dogs try to attack the sprinkler heads even when no water is coming out of them. In these instances, block their access or use portable sprinklers instead of fixed ones.

dog sniffing around sprinkle
Matilda_321/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

2. Training

Training can entail teaching your dog to leave the sprinkler alone or play with the water without a sprinkler attack. The goal here is to reward the behavior you do want rather than the behavior you don’t. 

It can sometimes be enough for dogs who don’t have an extreme obsession to ask for an alternative behavior every time they show interest in the sprinkler head. Always make sure you reward them with something they love when they demonstrate the desired behavior—whether that’s a tasty treat or a favorite toy.

If your dog’s love of the sprinkler is more full-on, another option is to teach them that the fun stops every time they go to attack it. Put your dog on a long leash and when you see them go to the sprinkler, don’t make a fuss; simply take the lead and guide them back inside. It could take several repetitions, but this can be enough to teach your dog that rough sprinkler play is unacceptable.

3. Addressing Underlying Issues

Some dogs develop extreme obsessions with sprinkler heads—maybe even attacking it when there’s no water coming out.

In these instances, your dog could be displaying compulsive behavior. Some breeds, like Border collies, are more predisposed to this type of behavior, while others can develop fixations due to stress or anxiety. If training and management are not enough to stop your dog’s sprinkler obsession, remove the sprinkler altogether or call in a certified animal behaviorist who can help you address your dog’s underlying anxieties.

Sometimes your dog may also attack the sprinkler because they’re afraid of it. You can try to build up a positive association with the sprinkler. Start by working at a distance with the water off. Anytime your dog looks at the sprinkler head, they get a treat. Build this up over several sessions until they’re comfortable being beside the sprinkler with the water turned off. Then follow the same steps with the sprinkler turned on. Always reward your dog for a calm reaction and never try to move things along too quickly.

dog playing in sprinkle
Giacomo Augugliaro via Getty Images

4. Alternative Enrichment

Some dogs may attack the sprinkler out of boredom. Making sure they’ve had enough exercise and alternative enrichment can be enough to snap them out of their desire to rough-play with the sprinkler head.

As well as stimulating daily walks and plenty of love and attention, you can offer your dog a selection of fun interactive toys to play with. Keep your dog’s interest by routinely rotating toys.

5. Alternatives to Sprinklers

If your dog is fearful of the sprinklers or their play is overly obsessive, sometimes it might be simpler to look for an alternative solution for watering your lawn. Manual watering might be more time-consuming and use more water than a sprinkler system, but it could save you and your dog from additional stress.

What Not to Do

Pet-parenting definitely has its challenging days and it can be pretty frustrating to discover your dog has destroyed your sprinkler head for the umpteenth time in a row. Having to frequently call a local sprinkler company for repairs can be costly, not to mention, feel embarrassing. However, shouting at your dog while shoving the broken sprinkler in their face is likely to do more harm than good. Unless you catch them in the act of chewing it up, they won’t understand why you’re shouting at them. Plus, it can break down the bond of trust the two of you have—and make your dog more anxious, especially if they’re attacking the sprinkler out of fear.

Rewarding the behavior you want and managing the situation correctly is a more effective and kinder long-term strategy.

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