But first, know that you are not alone and dog owners across the world have found solutions to stop compulsive digging. If you want to learn how to stop your dog being obsessed with digging, keep reading! Below we’ve compiled a list of the best ten tips to stop a dog from digging.
Why Do Dogs Dig Holes?
If you want to prevent your dog from digging holes in your backyard you first have to understand why they want to dig. Originally, dogs dug holes to hide food for survival purposes. Today, dogs dig holes for a variety of reasons.
One of the most common reasons behind excess digging is anxiety. An anxious dog is prone to destructive behavior. It is imperative that you understand why your dog, in particular, is digging before you can begin to correct that behavior.
Additional reasons for a dog digging holes are as follows:
Is Digging Holes Normal Dog Behavior?
Digging holes is a dog stereotype for a reason. Thousands of dogs all around the globe just can’t seem to dig in the right spots. It likely harkens back to behavioral instincts from their ancestors. However, in today’s day and age, many dogs dig for many different reasons. First and foremost, the most common reason a dog might dig is due to lack of stimulation. A dog that doesn’t have enough exercise is likely to become destructive.
Do Some Breeds Dig More Than Others?
Some breeds do indeed have the tendency to dig more than others. For example, terriers are more likely to dig in the ground due to their hunting instincts. Any dog that was bred to hunt the ground for prey or food will likely have a digging problem.
It is hard to deny a dog's nature, however, we can correct the behavior by guiding it in the right direction. Other breeds that tend to love digging are as follows:
How to Stop a Dog from Digging Holes
It seems to be in dogs' nature to want to dig. Below we have gathered ten tips to learning how to stop a dog from digging. Keep reading to learn more.
Tip #1: Give Your Dog More Attention
If your dog delights in digging while you are yelling at them to stop, chances are they may just be vying for your attention. Every time your dog digs, they might just be asking for you to play with them. Make sure your dog has enough attention and exercise. A thought-provoking play is a great choice to exhaust your four-legged companion as well. Try learning new tricks to get some more one-on-one time.
Tip #2: Tackle Your Dog’s Boredom
If you are trying to figure out how to stop a dog from digging and you can’t determine the reason behind the digging…they are probably bored. A bored dog is bound to be destructive, and digging causes, consistently, interesting destruction. Fix your pup’s boredom by ensuring they have enough exercise in a day. Vigorous walks, interesting toys, and thought-provoking puzzles will keep them physically and mentally active. You can check out our list of the best dog toys guaranteed to keep you furry friend entertained here.
Tip #3: Be Proactive
When you are only reactive to your dog's behavior, i.e. you discourage your dog for something he did after he did it, he often gets confused, and the message may not get across. You should be proactive instead and always reinforce behavior during the action itself. If you can’t be there, you can always use barricades and linked fencing to dissuade digging. Always make sure you are using the safest methods of behavior discouragement, as other popular methods, such as cayenne pepper, can be dangerous.
Tip #4: Try Unpleasant Deterrents
One of the most common ways people have figured out how to stop a dog from digging is to use unpleasant deterrents. Believe it or not, some dogs dislike their feces. Placing some of your dog’s excrement near their favorite places to dig may help dissuade them. Other unpleasant but highly effective deterrents include:
Tip #5: Seek Professional Assistance
If you have tried every trick in the book and haven't succeeded in stopping your pup from digging, you may want to seek professional advice. Certified dog trainers can help you determine the exact reason behind your dog's digging, as many of them are behavioral experts. Once you have the reason behind your dog's love for digging, you can begin to properly treat the cause of the issue.
Tip #6: Create a Safe Place
Do you want to stop your pup from digging but don’t want to eliminate the enjoyable activity for your furry loved one? Creating a safe place for them to dig is the perfect compromise. For instance, make a small sandbox or box filled with loose dirt.
If you can’t get your dog to dig in the designated area, try burying treats, toys, and other smelly objects to help encourage and reward your dog for digging in the right spot. If you see them starting to dig outside of the safe place, use a firm “No” and bring them back over to the safe place. With diligence and patience, your dog can learn to dig in the right spots.
Tip #7: Create a Shaded Area
Did you rescue the perfect pooch? Many dogs still have the natural tendency to dig for water. If your dog digs near the foundation of your home or trees, we have the solution.
An outdoor dog house is a perfect spot for your four-legged companion to rest in warm weather. Keeping your dog cool and giving them plenty of access to clean, fresh water can help reduce or eliminate unwanted digging.
Tip #8: Eliminate Prey
Learning how to stop a dog from digging begins with removing temptations. One of the temptations of a digging dog is, or what they deem to be, prey. Some dog breeds have the instinct to hunt or, at the very least, chase. Take note of what sparks your dog’s interest outdoors and use the proper, pet safe, methods to remove them.
Tip #9: Remove Temptations
Temptations can present themselves to a dog in many different forms, and each dog’s interests may vary. Chances are, if you have a digger, then you have someone who buries things as well. Go around your yard and dig up anything your dog may have buried. If you are an avid gardener, try to garden during the times your dog is not outside.
The hardest part about dogs digging in your yard is your garden. When dogs see us tilling the earth, they often get confused as to why you are allowed to dig, and they are not. Ensuring that you control the interaction will help lessen any potential issues.
Tip #10: Secure Your Perimeter
If you want to learn how to stop a dog from digging, you have to know why they are digging. If you have a dog that has at least once jumped the fence or has a tendency to dash outside anytime the door is open, then chances are your dog is trying to escape. This doesn’t mean that they don’t love you or their home, it could simply mean that they are eager to experience and smell what is beyond your home and yard.
It is common for dogs to want to escape to do a little bit of exploring. Keep your dog safe by ensuring your area is secure and locked. If you fear your dog may tunnel under your fencing, place rocks around the border to create a blockade. Also, a very effective solution is a wireless dog fence. You can check out our articles on the Best Wireless Dog Fences or How to Install a Wireless Dog Fence to learn more.
If you just brought a puppy home and have given up on your yard already, fear not. Not only are puppies more prone to digging holes than older dogs, but there are also ways to stop this behavior. Try any of the ten tips above to help prevent your dog from digging. If one method does not work, feel free to try another.
Don't get discouraged if one method does not work right away. A lot of these tips are meant to be reinforced over time to create a solid and thorough behavioral correction. Always remember to never punish your dog for digging a hole after they dug it. It is essential to catch your dog in the act to punish them for them to make the right mental association.