There are numerous reasons for dog digging. Your dog may want to dig a hole to keep warm in the winter or cool on a sunny day. He may be genetically predisposed to dig for mice or small animals, which is particularly true of certain breeds like terriers. Your dog could also be digging out of boredom or just for fun.
Regardless of why your dog has this particular behavior problem, the best way to stop dog digging is to manage and redirect the behavior.
Supervise your dog
The easiest way to keep your dog from digging up the yard is to keep an eye on him when he’s outside. If you can’t watch him, then it’s best to bring him indoors.
Provide daily exercise
Many dog behavior problems are caused by lack of exercise, including dog digging. Exercise your dog for at least 20 minutes before leaving him alone. Be sure to include some obedience training exercises. The goal is to wear him out both mentally and physically so he’ll be too tired to dig while you’re away.
Refocus your dog’s desire to dig
Sometimes you can stop dog digging by refocusing the habit on something more constructive. If you give your dog something enjoyable to do, he’ll be too busy to dig holes. Two products that could keep your dog occupied and out of the dirt are:
Boomer Ball – A boomer ball is a great way to displace your dog’s digging behavior. It’s a hollow plastic ball that’s resistant to chewing and scratching. They come in 10 and 20 inch diameters and can be filled with pebbles or bells to make a tantalizing noise. Once your dog learns how to push it with his nose, he won’t want to stop. Make sure your yard is fenced-in to keep him safe.
Indestructible Chew Toys – Turn your dog’s digging into a beneficial chewing habit with quality chew toys. If he has something good to chew on he should forget about digging holes in the backyard. Look for toys you can fill with treats or peanut butter to keep his interest. (See our chew toy guide for ideas.)
Build a digging pit
If you’ve tried everything and still can’t stop your dog from digging, why not give him a place of his own to dig in? Decide on an acceptable place for your dog to dig and make a pit, similar to a child’s sandbox. Bury lots of fun stuff in it like your dog’s favorite treats and chew toys or whatever else you think he would love to dig up. If you can, build the pit around an old tree stump. Digging at the roots will keep his attention on the pit instead of your yard. Once your dog discovers how exciting his new digging pit can be, he won’t want to dig anywhere else.
It can be hard to stop dog digging, especially if your dog has a genetic tendency for the behavior. But, with a little ingenuity, you can redirect his habit and save your lawn.