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Is your yard beginning to look more like a warzone than a backyard? Or maybe your garden is getting torn up by your pup’s constant digging.
Some dogs love to dig holes and it can be frustrating to handle this behavior. So how can you get your dog to finally stop digging so you can have your yard back?
In this article we discuss:
- Why dog dogs dig holes In the first place
- 11 ways to get your dog to stop digging
- If dogs ever stop digging on their own
Table of Contents
Why Do Dogs Dig Holes?
Dogs dig holes for six major reasons: for entertainment, attention, compulsion, to escape or hunt prey, and for comfort purposes. In addition, some dog breeds were bred for digging. So they are inherently more prone to digging.
Breeds that are prone to digging include Terriers, Beagles, and Dachshunds are more prone to digging than other breeds.
Here is a detailed overview of the six reasons why dogs dig holes in the yard:
- Boredom Or Entertainment
- Hunting For Prey
- They Want Out!
- Comfort Or Protection
- Compulsive Behavior
1.) Boredom Or Entertainment
If you tend to leave your dog alone for long periods of time they might be bored and looking to entertain themselves.
If your dog does not have any toys around, sticks, etc. The only thing to do that’s fun for them might be to dig.
In some cases, dogs make this their art project. The bigger, deeper, and the more of them, the more beautiful the art. For puppies, this is often the case due to their high energy levels. They are constantly on the search for something to do.
This can also be a sign your dog needs more exercise or mental stimulation throughout the day. Try increasing the amount you walk your dog and play with them.
In addition, certain breeds are more likely to be diggers. In fact, some were bred to dig holes, burrow into the ground, hide toys, bones, or even food.
Which Breeds Are Bred To Dig?
Here is a list of 10 digging dog breeds:
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Siberian Husky
- Cairn Terrier
- Alaskan Malamute
- Smooth Fox Terrier
- Airedale Terrier
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Border Collie
- Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
- Australian Shepherd
*Most terriers love to dig. Keep in mind there are many dogs that were not ‘bred’ for digging and can still love it.
2.) Hunting For Prey
A lot of dogs will chase after animals whenever they are spotted. This is especially true for hunting dogs.
Animals can burrow underground, hide under decks, and get to hard-to-reach areas. Highly prey-motivated dogs (like beagles and dachshunds), will stop at nothing to hunt down their prey.
Dogs that dig for hunting purposes will likely dig big holes in single focused areas.
Your dog may need mental stimulation from you. In some cases, dogs will simply dig to get you to pay attention to them.
This can become a negative feedback loop that just gets worse over time. If every time your dog digs, you run out yelling at them, this reinforces the behavior.
Since their objective is to get your attention, anytime you run out to stop them from digging, they are getting what they want.
4.) They Want Out!
Another common reason dogs dig is because they are escape artists!
This doesn’t mean they want to leave you, it may mean they want to chase down an animal, go see another doggo friend or find themself a mate.
Some dogs may also experience separation anxiety when you leave them and they simply want to get back to you.
5.) Comfort Or Protection
If it’s really hot out and your dog is digging they may be looking for a cool, shaded spot to protect them from the sun and keep them cold.
Dogs will usually find these spots near the foundation of the house, around decks, or in the shade of gardens.
6.) Compulsive Behavior
The last reason dogs dig could be from compulsive behavior. If you notice that your dog is not only digging outside but also on carpets, floors, and beds, this could be a compulsive behavior.
Digging is a normal behavior in itself but when taken out of context like digging inside, this is an example of something that could be a compulsive behavior.
How To Stop A Dog From Digging In 11 Steps
Now that you know why a dog digs, you can begin to put a stop to the behavior.
The following are 11 ways that you can get your dog to stop digging holes in your yard:
- Figure Out Why They Dig
- Avoid punishment
- Exercise & Mentally Stimulate
- Keep Your Dog Cool
- Give Your Dog More Attention
- Use Their Poop!
- Fix Your Dog
- Discourage Digging With Blockades
- Try A Dog Digging Deterrent
- Build Them A Digging Zone
- Get Professional Help
1.) Figure Out Why They Dig
It’s easy to determine which of these is your dog’s reason by analyzing the situation. Start by looking at where your dog is digging.
If it’s located near a fence they might be looking to escape or hunt down nearby animals they can spot outside the fence line.
Holes close together in open areas or at roots of shrubs and trees, may indicate your dog hunting down animals (like mice, rats, raccoons, or possums).
Furthermore, if you notice your dog digging near your deck, around the foundation of your home, or in shady areas, perhaps your dog is just looking for comfort.
If it’s hot out and they are digging, they also might be just looking for a cool, sheltered area to get away from the heat.
Lastly, if your dog is looking for attention or digging for entertainment they will be digging with no specific placement of their holes.
They may simply enjoy digging for the pleasure it gives them or the fact that anytime they dig you come running.
2.) Avoid Punishment
The last thing you want to do is to punish your dog for digging. This may actually worsen the behavior especially if your dog is digging to get your attention.
Instead, you want to use other ways to stop this behavior such as rewarding your dog with a treat for good behavior.
A great training exercise you can try is anytime your dog begins to dig and interrupt your dog’s digging with a loud noise.
When they stop to look at you, praise them, and then give them a toy or treat to replace the digging.
3.) Exercise & Mentally Stimulate
A saying that is often heard is “a tired dog is a good dog”. When dogs are full of energy they need an outlet and digging is one of them.
A great strategy for dogs that dig out of boredom, for entertainment, or for attention is to make sure you drain their energy.
Making sure your dog is properly exercised and mentally stimulated is a sure way of stopping your dog from digging.
Some great ways to mentally stimulate your dog are using interactive puzzle toys, snuffle mats, playing games of fetch, and tug of war.
4.) Keep Your Dog Cool
Another reason dogs dig is because they are warm and looking to cool down. Dogs will often look for shaded areas and dig until they reach the cool soil for them to lay on.
If you keep them in an area that’s shaded, cool, and damp where they can rest, it may stop their digging. In addition, make sure they also have access to plenty of water.
You can even get them a mini doggy pool to keep them cool on really hot days.
5.) Give Your Dog More Attention
Dogs that dig out of boredom need more one-on-one attention from the humans they love.
Make sure your dog is getting adequate time with you playing, cuddling, walking, and everything else.
6.) Use Their Poop!
Some dogs hate the smell of their own feces. So, you can take advantage of this by using it to deter your pup from digging.
If you find they constantly run to the same spots, try taking some of their poop and placing it in their digging holes.
This could go two ways, they are grossed out and won’t continue or they will see it as you burying their favorite treat.
Some dogs will gladly eat their poop so it definitely depends on the dog.
7.) Fix Your Dog
If you notice your dog digging near the fence line or trying to escape, it might be because they are looking for a mate.
Experts say male dogs are sexually active year-round and can be capable of siring puppies when they’re as young as 5 months. They are most fertile after 12-to-15 months of age, once they are fully physically mature.
So if your dog is not fixed and is older than about 5 months, they might already be looking for a mating partner.
Getting them fixed may solve your digging problem.
8.) Discourage Digging With Blockades
The trick here is finding a way to deter dogs from digging while we are not watching.
You can try creating a safe barricade around areas of frequent digging. This can prove to be effective at stopping your dog from digging.
Simply set up a garden fence to close off the area and this might stop the behavior.
In addition, you could try partially blocking the holes using bricks or large rocks to make it more difficult for your dog to continue digging.
Large flat rocks are the most difficult for dogs to move so ideally find some like that to use.
9.) Try A Dog Digging Deterrent
If blockades don’t seem to work, you can get a little more creative with your discouragement. Try burying a small inflated balloon in the dog’s hole and cover it with a layer of dirt.
Next time they go to dig the unpleasant noise the balloon will make may deter them from continuing.
You could also try using bad smells like red cayenne pepper (the best), citrus fruit (oranges, lemons, grapefruit), coffee grounds, anti-chew spray and citronella essential oil.
Additionally, you can use motion sensors that turn on sprinklers or loud noises whenever your dog enters a “no digging” area.
10.) Build Them A Digging Zone
If all else fails and you find yourself in a situation where your dog just simply loves digging too much to stop it, consider building them their own digging zone.
Set an area in your yard that is OK for digging. You will want to spend time training them. This new spot is their digging place.
Setting up a new digging zone can be done by:
- Locating a spot in your yard you wish to use
- Cover the digging zone with loose soil or sand (you can also use a child-sized sandbox.
- Make the new digging zone attractive for them. You can bury safe items like toys for them to discover
- If you catch them in the ‘unrestricted zone’ digging, interrupt the behavior with a loud noise and firmly say ‘ ‘no-dig’’. Then take them to the digging zone.
- Anytime they dig in the digging zone, praise them and give them a treat.
11.) Seek Professional Help
If nothing is working regardless of what you do and they just continue to dig up your yard, it might be time to call in the experts.
Animal behavior professionals are the best to solve these types of issues. In addition, you can also try an online dog training service.
Frequently Asked Question About Dog Digging
Will Vinegar Stop a Dog From Digging?
Some dogs will not dig when vinegar is used as a deterrent. This depends on the dog and how much they dislike the smell of vinegar. Dogs who hate this smell will be deterred from digging whereas dogs who don’t mind it will continue digging regardless.
Do Dogs Ever Stop Digging On Their Own?
Some dogs will stop digging naturally as they get older, however, some will not. Some breeds were bred to dig. So for them, the behavior is more likely to remain throughout their lives unless trained not to.
Dogs dig for many reasons including boredom, fear, anxiety, playfulness, attention-seeking and more. It’s important to find out why your dog is digging before trying to stop the behavior.
There are many ways you can go about stopping a dog from digging. Try a few different methods to see which ones work best for your dog.
If you’re still having trouble handling it on your own, seek professional help.
Other posts you may find interesting:
Sexual Maturity in Puppies: What to Know and What to Expect
7 Tips to Stop Your Dog from Digging Up the Yard
Why Do Dogs Dig?
How to Prevent a Dog From Digging
How to Stop Puppy Digging
Top 10 Dog Breeds that Love to Dig
10 Dogs Breeds That Love to Dig
Stress & Compulsive Behavior