To find out why dogs dig it is a good idea to look at the situation from an outsider’s viewpoint. When a dog is digging, there is probably a bigger issue at hand then what your originally thought. Learning how to stop dogs from digging may be easier than you thought.
When our dogs were digging, we decided to really think about “why.” Of course, no situation is the same. This is a great start to figure out why your dog is digging.
You can start by asking yourself these questions:
What breed is the dog?
Some dog breeds such as Terriers were originally bred to dig and tunnel for underground prey. Dachshunds are another breed born to dig.
When hunting for food, they are able to burrow into narrow subterranean passages due to their body type.
Labradors, Basset Hounds, and Beagles may also have an innate nature to dig. The dog breed and it’s “job” is something to keep in mind when choosing a puppy BEFORE you have to deal with a digging problem.
What does the dog do all day?
If the dog is left in the yard all day while everyone else is at school and work, are there few opportunities to interact with other pets and people?
The dog may be bored and may dig for mental and physical stimulation. Are there any toys, running leads or toys in the yard? This is something to think about.
What is in the dog’s environment?
Some dogs NEED to dig to keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter if there is not adequate shelter. Is there freshly turned dirt in the area? For some reason, some dogs are attracted to a new bed of flowers, a garden or a recently filled hole.
The scent of fertilized dirt is also very appealing to some dogs. Finally, a fenced yard may actually stimulate some dogs to dig underneath the fence to track down prey or another dog.
How to Stop a Dog From Digging
Once you have answered these questions, you can start forming a plan of action to combat the digging issue. To break the habit, it is important to be consistent with your message to your dog that digging is not acceptable behavior.
However, discipline alone may not solve the problem. Pairing verbal discipline with action generally helps most dogs. Some of the methods may surprise you, but are usually beneficial none the less.
Give the Dog Something to Do
The Humane Society of the United States’ website gives some recommendations for dogs that dig out of boredom. Some dogs feel that it is their “job” due to breed predisposition or otherwise may see digging as play time.
- Walk your dog at least twice a day. It is good exercise for both owner and pet!
- Teach your dog fetch with a ball or Frisbee or teach him a few commands or tricks.
- Take an obedience class with your dog and practice what you have learned.
- Keep toys in your yard to keep your dog busy when you are away. Kong® or busy box toys work especially well since they require the dog to work to remove a treat.
- Rotate the toys to keep them interesting.
- Dedicated diggers may need a “designated digging area.” Choose an area of the yard that is acceptable to dig and cover it with loose soil or sand. (You can also use a child’s sandbox. Bury toys or treats for your dog to find “treasure.”
- If you catch your dog digging, say “No dig!” and immediately take him to the desired spot for digging. Then you can reward the dog with praise or a treat so they learn where you want them to be when they dig.
Get the Dog a Detterent
These deterrents are considered humane and work to make it less desirable for the dog to want to dig in an area.
- Balloons – Blow up balloons and place in the area where your dog is digging. The dog popping the balloon while it is digging should provide enough negative association to stop digging.
- Water – Once you catch the dog in the act, using a water pistol, spray bottle, hose or sprinkler on your dog will let him know digging is not acceptable and the water is doing the discipline rather than you directly.
- Holes – Fill them with your dog’s feces or chicken wire and cover with dirt. Many dogs will not enjoy the experience of digging in their own poop or their claws on the chicken wire.
- More on holes -Before you place the chicken wire in the hole, make sure there are no loose wires on the edges that can cut their paws and that their claws can’t get caught and torn in the wire.
Consider Environmental Changes:
- Shelter – If your dog is kept outside, make sure there is adequate shelter from the heat and cold by providing an outdoor dog with an insulated doghouse.
- Prey – Seek out ways to humanely remove or distance wildlife from your property.
- Gardens and Flower Beds – When you are working in the garden, be sure to keep your dog in a inside the house so he does not learn from you how to dig. Dogs often mimic behaviors they see us do, even if they are for different reasons.
If you have tried out these methods and still have difficulty getting your dog to stop digging, you can also consider enrolling your dog in formal obedience training.
You can even hire a specialist who is an expert in dog behavior issues. There are also a number of products on the market that claim to stop your dog from digging.
More on Dogs from 3 Boys and a Dog:
These tips should help you on understanding your dogs natural instinct and it’s time to stop digging dogs! Do you have any tips to add?
Monday 23rd of December 2019
This is great, thanks for this. In our case our beagle only started seriously digging when he was being left alone in the backyard without any toys during the day. Now we make sure that he has both toys and that someone plays with him a couple of times per day (whenever he's outside).