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How to stop your dog from digging

Updated on December 31, 2010

You come home from work one day only to find out your dog kindly started some excavation work in your yard. You find out your dog dug out all your favorite flower bulbs. You are mad and frustrated, but there is really nothing you can do since this seems to have happened a while ago. You forget about it all together, but a week later you find an enormous hole like if your dog was trying to dig his way to China. The problem is getting annoying at this point and you are thinking about what to do.

It is a pretty hard task to correct a dog after the mishap. Dogs have short term memory so if you scold your dog upon coming home he will not have any clue what your anger is all about.

He might think you are mad just because he is just acting normally and he may consequently lose trust in you. He will think you just get mad at him at times for no apparent reason.

So you must work a bit on psychology. There are a few options that you have on your side to stop or at least reduce the whole digging ordeal. Hopefully, your dog will get the message.


1) Catch him in the act. I have done this, but I have plenty of time on my side. I am a stay at home mommy, so I have lots of time to dedicate to my animals. In order for this to work you will have to hide behind a window or bush and catch your dog in the act. Then you will discipline your dog in the way that has worked best in the past. I use a firm "No" and my dogs soon get the message. It may take a couple of times to let them get the message but it ultimately works, at least it has worked for me. However, some dogs may think they are not allowed to dig in that specific spot and that it is OK to dig in other spots. So you need to catch him in the act digging just about anywhere. However, if you are out all the day, it takes only one unreprimanded dig to bring back the pleasure of this annoying behavior.

2) Bury a balloon in his favorite digging spot. This is a great way to discourage digging. The dog will hear a loud "pop" once his nails hit the balloon. The pop will startle the dog and the dog may associate the whole digging ordeal with something not pleasurable. It may take a few "pops" for obstinate cases.

3)Buy a scat mat. A scat mat is a small mat that will produce a tiny electric shock that will startle and annoy the dog. The shock is not painful, it is similar to the one we get when we open a car door. You can bury the mat under a thin layer of dirt in his favorite digging spot. This method works as the same principle as the balloon.

4) Buy one of those motion sensor sprinklers. The sprinkler goes on when it detects motion in certain areas of the yard. This should work great, especially for those dogs that are not too fond of water. There are though some dogs that love water and this may not work, however, it may work both ways, they may be distracted and start playing with the water rather than digging.

5) Do not let your dog watch you gardening. Seeing you dig up dirt is like telling him "Hey, look, this is fun and OK to do". Also keep in mind that your dog is attracted to freshly watered dirt.

6) Keep your dogs occupied. Many times digging is a sign of boredom. Make sure your dogs are exposed to a lots of mental stimulus during the day. Provide toys, bones, or play a game of fetch. Kongs are great for keeping your dog occupied during the day.

7)Place some chicken wire under his favorite digging spots. Many dogs do not like the feeling of the wire scraping against their paws. Plus the chicken wire will take away all the pleasure of digging.

8) Place your dog's feces in his favorite digging spots. Dogs do not like to be near their feces, so think about touching them! However, a few dogs like to eat their feces and finding their own in their favorite digging areas can make a nice surprise and encourage further digging!

9) There are some products that promise to stop the dog digging behavior. They may work in some cases but not in others. Most of them are sprays that repel dogs because of their odor. They can be found in major pet stores or in garden centers.

10) Last but not least, sometimes the easiest solution is to simply fence off the areas you do not want dug. Dogs have an instinctive pleasure in digging, it is sort of in their genes and they have done it through history.

Dog love to dig. Whether it is for boredom, stress, to hide a treasure or simply to make a nice place to cool down, it may be challenging to make them stop. Digging is not really a bad behavior, it just becomes bothersome when it happens in places we do not want them to dig.

Sometimes, it just takes a compromise to make both dog and owner happy. Creating a nice digging area for them to dig in can be a great gift, your dog will get to dig, and you will get to appreciate your garden once again.


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    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 9 years ago from USA

      Thank, you. Your feedback is always greatly appreciated!

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 9 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Excellent tips all round.