stop dog from digging

How to Stop a Dog from Digging in the Yard

It is but normal for dogs to dig. Or is it? If your pooch is already turning your newly-landscaped yard into a moonscape, then maybe it’s time to take some action. There are many ways to stop your dog from digging. Some pet owners lock their dogs in their kennels while others are tied down to a post. These do not really address the problem itself and your pooch will be left confused as to what it did wrong. In this article we’ll try to understand some of the reasons why dogs dig. Appreciating these reasons will help us determine the best course of action to take to stop our dogs from digging.

Why Do Dogs Dig?

  • They find it entertaining

Most pooches dig because they find it very entertaining. When they start digging, they learn that the soil will usually fall back. Sometimes there are roots that they have to navigate through. They also encounter earthworms and other critters. The point is that digging allows them to explore what is beneath their paws.

  • They’re on a hunt 

Everyone knows that dogs are prolific hunters and if you happen to have a pooch that has a very acute sense of smell, you’d know that it will be digging sooner or later. They know that some prey hide underground and as such will actively seek these prey out.

  • They want comfort and protection 

In the dead heat of the summer, dogs find the soil to be a lot cooler than the surface. As such, they tend to burrow into the ground to create a cooler resting area for themselves. Similarly, many dig to protect them from the wind, rain, or bitter cold.

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  • It’s their way to get your attention 

Some dogs dig as a means to get your attention, even if it means they will be punished for it. One way you can determine if the digging behavior is related to an attention-seeking behavior in dogs, take note of the time when your dog is burrowing. If it only does this whenever you are around but definitely not when you’re away, then it is a clear sign that burrowing is your dog’s way of getting attention.

  • As a means to escape 

Some pooches burrow for the simple fact that they simply don’t like being confined in a particular area. They dig because they’re running after something or running away from something or someone. This is easy to identify if the hole is located along the fence line.

What Can You Do about It?

The key to addressing the digging behavior of your dog is in understanding the fundamental reason why it is doing so. We have already explored some of the more common reasons above so it should not really be that too difficult to zero-in on what is causing your pooch to burrow in your backyard. Once you have a clear idea of the reason for its behavior, then addressing these should be relatively easy.

  • Give your dog attention 

Ask yourself how much time you spend playing or even stimulating your pooch. One of the most common reasons why dogs burrow is to get your attention. This is where taking them for a walk, playing with them, or even cuddling them can really help. Make sure to praise them for being a ‘good dog’. In case you catch them digging, under no circumstances should you punish them as this is still pretty much giving them attention. Leave them be. This will teach them that digging is not an effective way of getting your attention.

  • Address canine boredom

Are you providing your canine friend interactive toys, pull toys, dog snuffle mats, and any other dog toy that it can vent its frustration or boredom on? If not, now is the time to get them a variety of toys. Remember, the more appropriate toys they have access to the least chances that they will be digging in your backyard since their toys are definitely much more fun, more exciting, and more entertaining than whatever it is they can find underground.

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  • Provide a safer venue to dig 

You can always construct a sandbox for your pooch to dig in. This is a lot similar to getting a sandbox play area for your kids. This way you can also choose the types of materials that you are going to place in the sandbox, making it a lot safer for your pooch while allowing it to play out its inherent need to dig. Alternatively, you can designate a certain area in your backyard or garden as a digging zone for your pooch. Do take note that you will have to train your dog on how to use the sandbox or to keep its digging endeavors within the digging zone.

  • Provide adequate shelter outdoors 

If the burrowing behavior of your dog only occurs during the hot summer season, then the most likely culprit is the weather. Too bad there really isn’t anything you can do about the weather itself. However, you can make your backyard a little bit more comfortable for your pooch. Make sure that there is adequate foliage in your backyard where the shade can create a cooler place for your pooch to rest on. You might also want to install some of those doggie water fountains to help cool down your pooch especially during the day.

dog digging in yard

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  • Institute critter control measures 

If you have unwanted visitors running across your backyard every now and then, you will have to institute some critter control measures such as traps and sealing access for these critters to gain entry into your backyard. Just make sure that whatever method you are going to use it should be humane and non-toxic. Remember, if these products can kill critters, then there is a chance that these same products will be dangerous to your pet as well.

There are other ways in which you can stop your dog from digging. However, the most crucial part is determining why it is burrowing in the first place. Once you understand this, you can then institute more appropriate measures.

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  1. How to Get Your Dog to Stop Digging, Humane Society
  2. Stephanie Gibeault, MSc, CPDT, Why Do Dogs Dig, American Kennel Club

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