How to Stop a Dog from Digging

brown dog digging into a garden

Are you wondering how to stop your dog from digging up your beautiful backyard? Then you’ve come to the right place!

Plenty of dog owners face this problem, and most of them can’t seem to figure out what could be causing their pooches to wreak havoc on their yard. Is it out of frustration, spite, or does your dog simply like digging up anything and everything in its path? Stick around to find out!

Common Reasons Why Dogs Like to Dig

There could be several reasons why your dog is prone to digging:

  • It’s fun
  • Your pup likes hunting burrowing animals
  • It’s digging a hole to lie down in
  • Your dog is trying to escape from your yard

Remember, your dog isn’t purposely trying to ruin your yard. Even so, we’re sure you’re still frustrated with your dog’s digging habits and are looking for ways to fix this behavior.

In this next part, we’ll get into each of the reasons I mentioned, and suggest ways to stop your dog from digging.

Digging Because It’s Fun

Entertainment: If your dog is digging for entertainment purposes, it’s most likely due to boredom. Do you tend to leave your dog in the yard unsupervised? If so, it’s probably just looking for ways to entertain itself, and digging is a fun activity for dogs.

Exploration: When they’re only a few months old, puppies like to explore their surroundings, and once they discover digging, it becomes their favorite pastime!

Excess energy: Puppies like to dig because it’s a great way to get rid of excess energy. Luckily, you can train your young pup to stop digging if you catch this behavior on time.

Digging Gene: Also, keep in mind that some breeds simply have that “digging gene” that’s impossible to get rid of. For instance, terriers are incessant diggers!

Since some breeds require a different approach when it comes to dealing with the whole digging problem, I’ll include a special section for them.

Doggy see, doggy do: Perhaps your dog has seen you planting some flowers, and wants to help out? All jokes aside, what I mean is that dogs tend to imitate the behavior of their owners. Since they can’t exactly talk or walk on two legs, digging seems like the most obvious choice.

How to Fix the Problem

There are a few things you can do to persuade your pup to stop digging.

First, buy it some toys. If your dog is digging out of boredom, we’re willing to bet it will go straight for the toys rather than your flowerbed! Our advice is to buy several different types of toys and switch them out each day to keep your dog occupied.

However, if that doesn’t do the trick, maybe your dog is lacking human interaction. Find some time to play with your dog. You can take it for a few short walks every day, or you can play fetch right there in your yard. Remember, dogs need plenty of mental stimulation in order to stay happy and healthy.

If that still doesn’t do the trick, you should consider going to a training class with your dog. That way, you’ll get some tips from a professional dog trainer.

Finally, if you think your dog may be digging because it’s trying to copy your behavior, you should avoid doing so while your dog is outside. However, if that’s not an option, try distracting your pup with toys while you’re planting flowers and tending to your garden.

Hunting Burrowing Animals

If your dog is hunting insects or skunks, chipmunks, and other burrowing animals, it will most likely be:

  • Digging near the roots of a tree
  • Digging in one specific area

When your dog hears a rustle in your bushes or notices a critter burrow itself in the ground, you better believe it’s going to want to investigate!

While doing so, it will probably wreck your entire yard in a matter of minutes. But don’t worry, there is a solution to this.

How to Fix the Problem

If your dog is digging for the purpose of hunting, then it’s more a matter of getting rid of the critters and burrowing animals than training your dog to stop hunting them.

Tunnels and mounds are a dead giveaway that your yard is infested with unwanted guests. You will need to identify the culprits and find a humane way to get rid of them.

Once you do so, your dog will have no reason to dig up your yard.

Digging a Hole to Sleep In

In some cases, dogs like to dig holes to sleep in because they’re too cold, or too hot. If you notice your dog doing the following, then it’s doing so for comfort:

  • Digging a hole near your house
  • Constantly sleeping in the holes it digs
  • Avoiding sleeping in its doggy house

How to Fix the Problem

Digging a hole and sleeping in it is a clear sign your dog is lacking proper shelter. Examine its house to see if there are any holes, or if the door is too big.

Maybe the house is positioned wrong so when it rains, your dog gets wet. Or, perhaps your pup is cold in the wintertime, or too hot in the summer. It could be anything.

First, try to make some adjustments to your dog’s house, and if that fails, consider bringing it inside when it gets too hot/cold outside.

Digging to Escape

Have you noticed a change in your dog’s behavior? Sometimes when dogs get anxious or scared, they try to escape from their home.

If your dog is constantly digging near your fence, it’s most likely trying to run away.

On the other hand, if you suspect that your dog is digging near your fence because it wants to catch something (e.g., a stray cat, another dog, bird, etc.) then you will need to take some precautions.

How to Fix the Problem

Anxiety: If you’re convinced that your dog is suffering from anxiety, but you cannot figure out the reason, you should take it to the vet. Only a professional will be able to help with the problem.

Chasing other animals: If your pooch keeps trying to escape your yard in order to catch another animal, you will need to reinforce your fence:

  • Bury large rocks or bricks along the bottom of the fence so your dog can’t dig its way out.
  • Make walking near the fence uncomfortable for your dog by placing a chain-link fence that’s anchored to the bottom of your actual fence on the ground.
  • Remove your current fence and place a new one 2 feet below the surface

Dogs with the “Digging Gene”

A boy wearing leather jacket playing with a dog digging into the sand by the beach

As promised, we will include a special section for dogs with a genetic predisposition for digging, or as we like to call them, dogs with the digging gene. 

Some dog breeds are impossible to dissuade from digging. Terriers, dachshunds, and huskies fall into this category, so if you own one of these breeds, we feel your pain.

Fortunately, even if you won’t have any luck training your dog not to dig, there is a solution.

How to Fix the Problem

We’re sure you’re familiar with the saying If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain. In this case, you will need to bring the mountain to your dog!

Set aside a small section of your yard where your dog can dig as much as its little heart desires! Before you gasp in horror, hear us out.

We’ve already established that certain dog breeds are going to dig no matter what. Would you rather have your dog dig in your flower beds every day or in the special area you set aside for digging?

Of course, the change won’t come overnight, and you will need to teach your dog that digging in the area designated for it is OK, while digging anywhere else is not.

Here’s how:

  • Purchase some chicken wire and place it around the areas where digging is not allowed.
  • Place a sandbox (you can DIY it) in the digging area and fill it with sand/soil. Add some toys for your dog to play with.
  • Keep an eye on your dog in the first couple days and as soon as it starts digging in the no-no area, tell it to “stop” and take it to the digging area.
  • Reward your dog each time it digs in the digging area.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, we all think of our furry pals as family, and we want what’s best for them, even if it means having to put up with some of their annoying, albeit amusing quirks.

The main thing to take away from this is that your dog isn’t maliciously trying to ruin your yard. That’s why you need to incorporate safe methods (like the ones I suggested) to either dissuade your dog from digging or teach it to dig in a specific area.

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