Is your dog digging everything in sight? If so, find out how to stop a dog from digging ASAP in our quick training guide.
Dogs dig for a number of different reasons, as we’ll explain below. No matter what the root of the issue is, however, it’s important to get this behavior under control.
Our dog Toby went through a short-lived phase where he liked to dig. If he found a patch of dirt in the yard, he’d dig in it as a way to entertain himself. Or if he’d see other dogs digging at the dog park, he’d join in.
The behavior was cute at first, but became annoying when we realized the damage he was causing.
Luckily, with some training and redirection, we eliminated the problem. With this training guide, you too can discover how to stop a dog from digging.
Training Guide: How to Stop a Dog from Digging
It can be discouraging and downright maddening to find your yard covered with holes dug up by your furry friend.
Digging is a common behavior in dogs but can become a problem if left unaddressed.
If you’re wondering how to stop a dog from digging up dirt – along with your precious plants, grass and more – here are the top 5 reasons for this behavior and the best strategies you can take to stop it.
1. Digging out of Boredom
One big reason why your pup may be digging is to blow off excess energy and work through boredom.
This is generally the case if your dog is left alone for too long and has little else (in form of toys) to occupy the time.
Terrier breeds, which were bred for digging, may be especially want to dig for pleasure. But the same can be true if your dog has recently noticed you digging around, possibly during yard work, and decided to take up a similar hobby.
How to Stop a Dog from Digging out of Boredom
To redirect your dog’s attention and energy, you’ll need to offer alternative ways to blow off steam.
First and foremost, you should be taking your dog on walks at least twice per day to ensure they’re getting enough exercise.
Next, introduce more toys and engage with them in active play as much as possible. Make sure you leave plenty of these toys around to occupy your dog while you’re away.
Another great way to channel excess energy is to practice obedience training and teach your dog some new tricks. This will keep your dog’s mind and body occupied on something other than digging.
Looking for new tricks to teach your dog? Here are four awesome ideas.
2. Digging to Get to Vermin
Besides boredom, there might be a pest in your back yard that’s enticing your dog’s hunting and digging instincts.
If you see your dog digging only in one particular spot or area, underneath a tree or bush, or in a pattern that resembles a path, you may have an unwanted intruder in the garden.
How to Stop a Dog from Digging for Pests
It isn’t uncommon for animals to burrow in your yard, so if you suspect your dog is digging to hunt, locate the burrowing animal, and then safely remove it from your yard.
Use a humane method and stay away from toxic items, which may find their way into the surrounding ecosystem, or even poison your dog.
Removing the source of agitation will likely stop your dog from continuing to dig up your yard.
3. Digging as a Reaction to Heat
If you’re dog is getting overheated outdoors and has no other way to cool off, it will resort to digging to uncover and lay in cooler dirt.
Alternatively, it may be trying to gain warmth if you’re in a cold climate and your dog has no other shelter available outside.
You can identify this behavior by the fact that your dog will like to lay inside of the hole they’ve made for themselves.
How to Stop a Dog from Digging to Cool off
To nip this behavior in the bud, you’ll need to offer your dog an alternative way of cooling off. If you live in an especially hot climate, bring your dog indoors more to offer relief from the heat.
Otherwise, make sure their outdoor environment is comfortable, offers a place to cool down, and that there’s plenty of drinking water available at all times.
4. Digging to Escape
If your dog is digging next to or trying to get under a fence, you can assume the digging is associated with wanting to escape the yard and get to something else.
How to Stop a Dog from Digging to Escape
The first thing you’ll need to do is figure out the reason behind your dog’s escape plan. It may be the case that your dog just sees something it wants on the other side of the fence, but other times, it may also be trying to escape something unpleasant.
If you can guess the object of your dog’s desire, you’ll need to remove it first to stop the behavior. Also, make sure that their environment is comfortable and attractive to them – not something they want to get way from.
Here are some strategies for keeping your dog safely inside your yard:
- Partially bury large stones along the base of your fence
- Bury the bottom of the fence below the surface (at least 1 ft)
- Plant dog-friendly bushes along the fence line
5. They Just Love Digging
If none of these reasons seem to correlate with your dog’s behavior, it may be that they just really enjoy digging as a pastime.
If nothing you’ve done so far has made a difference in your dog’s love of digging, you may want to work with this behavior rather than against it.
How to Stop a Dog from Digging for Pleasure
This isn’t technically about stopping the digging, but rather moving it to an acceptable, designated area.
The first thing you’ll need to do is use sturdy fencing around places that you don’t want your dog to dig in. If this isn’t enough, you can try adding natural deterrents such as citrus peels or a motion-activated sprinkler system.
Now that you’ve designated the places that are off limits, you should give your dog a spot for unlimited digging pleasure. This can be a sandbox, or a specific area or planter that you dedicate to this task.
With some training and reinforcement your dog will be happily digging without causing damage to the rest of your yard.
Final Thoughts on How to Stop a Dog from Digging
We hope our tips help you learn how to stop your dog from digging up your yard.
Remember, digging is a natural behavior, so don’t get too stressed if your dog loves to do this. Instead, focus on why they’re doing it and how you can stop or redirect the behavior.
And if all else fails and you aren’t seeing improvement, keep your dog under supervision while outdoors and contact a dog training professional for support.
Watch a Training Video
As you work on how to stop a dog from digging, it can be helpful to see the process enacted.
Better Homes & Gardens has created a training video on the topic that is useful to watch if you have a dog who loves to dig.
Take a look for more info on how to stop a dog from digging.
Bonus Training Tip
After spending all this time working on how to stop a dog from digging, there is nothing more frustrating than looking at the backyard and seeing your dog burying their face and furry paws in the ground.
Training a dog requires patience and persistence. And at times, it may seem like your dog is pushing your limits!
Ultimately, the goal is to continually and clearly communicate your expectations in a calm but confident manner. If your dog is getting on your last nerve, take a deep breath and regroup.
You’ll feel more collected and ready to work on breaking this annoying and potentially dangerous habit.
Top Dog Training Books
Figuring out how to stop a dog from digging is just one very small part of the overall training process.
When you train a new dog, it provides a solid foundation on how they should behave for the rest of their life.
To ensure your dog is obedient and well-behaved, it’s always a good idea to learn as much about dog training as possible. If you put in the work now, the following years will be so much easier!
When we first got Toby, we spent months working on training, and it was exhausting at times!
The result, however, is that he became a well-behaved dog who listened and followed our commands, and that made our lives much easier in the long run.
If you’re looking for extra support, we highly recommend the following books to aid in your training journey.
Zak George is a renowned dog trainer known for his friendly, enthusiastic style. He offers great advice in his book Dog Training Revolution, a must-read for new pup parents.
The book covers all the bases when it comes to training and provides you and your dog a solid foundation for the future.
We read this when we first got Toby and highly recommend it. This classic bestseller has everything you need to know about dog training, canine behavior, and the animal and human bond
Ask any pup parent, and they’ll tell you how messy, frustrating and exhausting it is to housebreak a puppy.
If you need extra help with the process, the book How to Housebreak Your Dog in 7 Days teaches you infallible methods that will help housebreak your pup. Life will be so much easier afterward!
We purchased 101 Dog Tricks for Toby a number of years ago. He had learned basic commands and we were looking for other ways to keep him mentally stimulated.
After all, dogs are super smart creatures, and teaching them new tricks is great for their mental and physical health.
We loved the chance to bond with Toby in a new way and provide fun new activities for him to try out.
Do you have kids in your home? If so, Puppy Training for Kids serves as a great introduction to caring for a dog.
Dogs are a big responsibility, and this book helps kids understand all the work involved with training and raising a puppy.
As we mentioned before, digging is a common behavior in dogs, so don’t stress out if you see your pup exhibiting this behavior.
It is important, however, to nip this behavior in the bud by learning all you can about how to stop a dog from digging.
And if you’re looking for additional training resources, don’t forget to check out our puppy guide. Good luck!