Digging is a problem that most dog owners have to deal with sooner or later. Before you can learn how to stop dogs digging, you need to understand some of the reasons behind the digging.
Why do dogs dig?
Dogs dig for a variety of reasons, and sometimes for several different reasons at the same time.
Read over this list, and do some detective work.
Try to figure out what may be prompting your dog to dig.
Lack of supervision
Dogs left alone in a yard for extended periods of time, usually end up doing things they shouldn’t.
Dogs with little to no supervision quickly realize they can dig holes, and that no-one is there to stop them.
This lack of supervision can allow a bad habit to get started.
Many dogs engage in digging due to boredom, or lack of mental stimulation.
Dogs that spend a lot of time alone in their yard get bored, and often participate in destructive behavior such as digging.
Some dogs like to dig along property borders and fence lines in hopes of escaping their yard.
Some dogs feel the need to explore the world beyond their yard.
This type of digging can be dangerous.
Digging for rodents / Small prey animals
Underground vermin and pests, such as mice, rats, chipmunks, or moles can trigger a dog to start digging.
A lot of dogs have a natural instinct to dig for these animals because they can smell and hear them underground.
Digging to cool off
If you find that your dog has dug a huge crater in the lawn, and is laying in the cool dirt, chances are they are trying to cool off.
Sometimes dogs get too hot outside, especially if there is a lack of shade in your yard.
The problem is that once they lay in a freshly dug hole, it doesn’t stay cool for long, so they continue to dig new holes to lay in.
Digging for fun
Let’s face it, some dogs just enjoy digging.
It’s almost like a hobby for some dogs.
To bury toys or treats
Some dogs have an instinct to bury toys or treats in the yard.
My son has a beagle named Nala. She will bury almost any toy or treat she is given.
She is so driven, that if she can’t go outside, she will bury these treats in a blanket.
Lack of exercise
Some dogs dig as a means of getting physical activity, and to burn excess energy.
Some dogs are high energy breeds, and need more exercise than others.
Separation anxiety / Stress relief
For some dogs, digging seems to be therapeutic.
Some dogs use digging as a way of dealing with stress and separation anxiety.
They may be trying to create a den
Some dogs may dig because they wish to create a den, especially pregnant females.
In my opinion, this would be one of the least common reasons for digging.
How to stop dogs digging
Now that you know why dogs dig, lets talk about some of the ways to stop the digging.
Supervision is at the top of the list for how to stop dogs digging
This one is HUGE!
If you are directly supervising your dog, you can correct the digging behavior with a firm “No!”, then redirect your dog to a more acceptable activity.
Training your dog to stop digging won’t happen in 1 day, but through repetition, you can teach your dog that digging is a “No-Go”!
If your dog seems to be digging holes out of boredom, it’s time for some stimulation and boredom busters.
A food puzzle, a frozen Kong, or a favorite chew toy may be helpful.
This will give your dog something to focus on, other than digging holes in your yard.
Frozen Kong Recipe
- 1/2 Cup Kibble
- 2 Tbsp. Wet dog food
- 1-2 Tbsp. Water
Miz all ingredients together in a bowl. Stuff Kong, and freeze.
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Exercise is also high on the list of how to stop dogs digging
Depending on the energy level of your dog, some extra exercise may be in order for diggers.
An extra walk may do the trick for some dogs.
Dogs with heavier exercise requirements could play fetch, frisbee, for for a swim or even run along with you as you ride a bike.
A tired dog is usually a good dog. And a tired dog is less likely to dig holes in the yard.
*Related post: Best Dogs For Runners*
Changing your ground cover
Is your pup especially fond of digging in a specific area?
One way to solve the problem may be changing the ground cover.
Using rocks, crushed stone, or even laying patio pavers can be a great deterrent for digging dogs.
If you opt for crushed stone, be sure to use a thick layer.
Otherwise your dog may brush it aside and keep digging.
Dogs don’t normally like the feel of digging in rocks.
How to stop dogs digging with Dog boots
For dedicated diggers, dog boots may be an option.
It will be difficult for a dog to dig up the yard wearing boots.
Many styles are available to choose from.
Just don’t leave boots on your dogs feet for long periods in warm weather.
Dogs stay cool by perspiring through their paw pads.
How to stop dogs digging by Providing a proper place to dig
If you don’t want to stop your dogs digging altogether, but want to control where your dog is digging, a dig pit may be right for you.
Simply set up a designated digging zone your yard, and mark it off clearly so your dog can see the “dig zone”.
Some people choose to make a fancy dig pit, others use a child’s sandbox.
You can encourage your dog to dig in this area by burying some of their favorite toys for them to dig up.
Provide a shady retreat for your pooch to cool off
If you think your dog may be digging to stay cool, consider creating a shady oasis for your dog.
This can be very easy to make using a canopy.
In addition, you may even decide to set up a doggie pool during the hot months of summer.
Rodents / Pests
If rodents or underground pests are the reason for your dogs digging, consider working professionals to safely rid your yard of pests.
How to stop dogs digging using Vinegar Spray
Dogs don’t like the smell of vinegar.
If your dog always digs in a specific area, you may want to try this mixture.
Combine 50% Vinegar and 50% water in a spray bottle.
Mist the area that you want your dog to stop digging in.
Be aware, this mixture will kill plants, grass, and other vegetation.
You will need to re-apply this mixture after rain showers.
If you have exhausted all other options to stop your dogs digging, using an E-collar as a tool of last resort may be an option.
If you feel this is an approach you must use, please speak to a qualified trainer, and learn how to use the e-collar properly.
What not to do to stop a dogs digging
|DO NOT hit your dog. This will only confuse them|
We don’t recommend laying down chicken wire to stop digging. This can damage a dogs pads and cause injury.
We don’t recommend planting prickly plants or shrubs. These could injure your dog.
Will my puppy outgrow digging?
It is possible that your puppy will outgrow digging, but very unlikely.
Usually once your puppy begins digging, it becomes a habit.
This normally gets worse as the puppy gets older, not better.
Which dog breeds are most likely to dig?
Any dog can dig up your yard, but some breeds are a little more likely to dig than others.
Here are a few of the dogs that are notorious diggers.
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Fox Terrier
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Cairn Terrier
These dogs are very likely to dig because they were bred to be ratters or hunt vermin.
How to stop dogs digging along a fence line
Placing some flat rocks or flat paver stones along your fence line creates a barrier.
This may help deter your dog from digging along your fence, but not always.
If your dog is trying to escape by digging, you will need to supervise this dog at all times.
Never leave a dog alone that is trying to escape alone in your yard.
If this is common with your dog, you may want to try one of these 2 GPS tracking products Whistle and Fitbark.
Digging can be dangerous for both you and your dog. Twisting your ankle or worse from holes dug in your yard is a very real possibility.
In addition, if your dog escapes from your yard through digging, your dog could get lost, or stolen or even hit by a car.
We hope How to stop a dogs digging has been helpful.
With a bit of effort and a whole lotta patience, you can take back control of your yard.