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Tips to Stop a Dog From Digging

Updated on April 9, 2014

Your dog may dig only when you are not looking!


It all started one day with one hole, the next day it was your flower bed and now your furry pooch has targeted your landscape, methodically digging up all your precious rose bushes one by one. While digging is a natural instinct deeply implanted into a dog's genetic core, owners may not appreciate very much when their furry friend engages in its favorite excavation activities. While some owners have given up and accepted their dog's archaeological passion as part of owning a dog, there are some owners that were able to solve part of the digging problem by resorting to a bit of canine psychology and some effective strategies.

How to Stop Your Dog from Digging

A good way to stop the digging behavior is to carefully study your dog to find out why your dog digs in the first place. Most dogs dig because they lack stimulation, these are bored dogs that use digging as a resort to keep themselves entertained. Other dogs simply enjoy digging because they find it rewarding. They like to find buried treasures or play ''tug of war'' with the long roots they find laying beneath the surface. Other dogs may dig to create a refreshing spot on a hot summer day while some will dig as an attempt to escape. Once the cause of digging is found, the appropriate course of action to discourage this behavior may be taken into consideration. Following are a few tips on how to stop your dog from turning your yard into a place resembling pretty much planet Mars.

-Provide Stimulation

Most dogs have an innate curiosity that causes them to enter into exploratory mode. Dogs may be therefore be intrigued by digging up dirt to find out what lies beneath those strong earthy smells. It ultimately may be like being tuned into ''Discovery channel'' as the dog digs up roots, stones, worms and old bones. If your dog seems to be too interested in his digging activities it may be he is bored and tired of being left alone in the yard all day. Providing extra stimulation may help ease a bit his best hobby, by redirecting his attention elsewhere. Try to engage your dog in a game of fetch, or invite him in your home more frequently, offer him a stuffed Kong or take him for a nice long walk. The more tired your dog, the less interested he will be in digging.

-Create a Shady Area

If your dog spends his time year round outdoors and you notice the digging activity significantly increases near summer, it could be your dog is simply hot and looking for a natural way to refresh. In nature, dogs dig holes and then lay in them to cool off. If this is the case, try to provide plenty of water and shade, or even better, take your dog indoors with the AC nicely turned on. If outdoors is too hot even for yourself, why should a furry dog, with no way to effectively sweat, have to spend all day under the scorching sun?

-Enforce Fences

Some dogs get pretty frustrated in being unable to get to what is on the other side of the fence.What are the culprits? They could be various ranging from chasing the neighbor's cat, approaching that pretty female in season, or as a form of separation anxiety when the owners are away. Some breeds of dogs are more prone to digging in an attempt to escape from their enclosure than others. This form of digging can be frustrating to deal with and some hardheaded dogs may actually be able to dig their way to freedom. Fences therefore, should be enforced by burying 1/4 inch of mesh wire along the fence line so the dog will be unable to dig past a specific depth. Most dogs will be discouraged from digging once they hit the mesh wire.


While there is not much really you can do to totally remove a digging hobby once it has started, you can compromise with your dog so your dog will dig happily and you will not have to worry about your landscape being destroyed. A good way to do this is to create a legaldigging area for your dog. This can be accomplished by fencing off a part of the yard and hiding some toys and treats beneath the ground so to entice the dog to use that area. Every time the dog gets out of its designated area and starts digging he or she should be told ''no!'' and be redirected back to the designated area.

-Turn Digging Unpleasant

There are various strategies to turn digging into an unpleasant experience. Here are some of the most effective methods that may discourage your dog from engaging in his favorite excavation work.

-Place some chicken wire under his favorite digging places. Most dogs dislike the ''feel'' of chicken wire against their nails and paws..

-Place your dog's feces in your dog's favorite digging areas. Most dogs will not like the surprise, however, if your dog like to savor his own feces (coprophagia) doing so may actually encourage him to dig more.

Whether your dog enjoys digging because of boredom, in order to find a buried treasure or simply to create a spot to cool off on a hot summer day, as an owner you may find the behavior totally unacceptable, especially when the digging does substantial damage to your yard making it resemble more and more the Grand Canyon. While there are various methods to discourage this behavior, the fast and most effective method is to simply fence off your flower beds and create a dig friendly spot so you both can get to enjoy the yard without any conflicts.


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    • jim10 profile image


      9 years ago from ma

      Great suggestions. When our dog was a puppy she would dig everywhere. She dug to get out of the yard and to make a cool place to sit even though we have lots of shade. Now she doesn't do it nearly as often. I will definitely keep these ideas in mind if it starts up again.

    • l1blonde profile image


      9 years ago

      Nice Hub. I have used the can filled with gravel. I don't have a fence around my yard and my dog will not leave the yard. At first I placed some cans around the yard. Now I don't need them anymore.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Hey, fantastic suggestions! We have a 7 month old puppy who is making our backyard look mole-infested. UGH! I love the balloon and chicken wire suggestions. I'd like to get my yard looking nice for the summer.


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