If you own a dog and have a yard, you should have come across this problem by now. Dogs have it in their genes to dig, and there is very little we can do about it.
A lot of owners keep asking this question. How to stop my dog from digging in my backyard?
The answer depends on your dog, what his instincts are and why he digs things up. If you have a natural digger, then you can do only this much to stop this habit.
But experts have several solutions that can help you to stop your dog from digging.
In the content table, you will find the list of topics we will cover in this post. Feel free to jump to the topic that interests you. We recommend dog owners (especially, new ones) to read the entire thing so that you can have a clear knowledge on this subject.
Why Do Dogs Dig?
Dogs dig for a lot of reasons. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why your lovely dogs dig in your yard.
Keeping them cool
This is an essential need. If your dog spends a lot of time in the yard, then he needs a cool place.
And if your yard doesn’t have a lot of shady places, your dog gets to face the sun in a friendly battle.
This forces the dog to dig the ground and find some wet mud on which he can rest and cool himself. This is a very natural thing to do, and you can correct this problem very easily.
Dogs need Entertainment too!
Pretty much what the heading says.
Some dog breeds like Terrier love to dig. Well, to be honest, most of the dog breeds can pick this habit up real quick and start digging straight away.
Some dogs really like to alternate between running and digging. If your dog can find a place that can use some digging, then he’ll jump on it the next instant.
Time to Escape
Not all dogs are fans of confinement.
Some dogs hate it. They hate it to such an extent that they have devised a wise plan to escape from their prison.
Remember, their problem is staying locked in a small place. This doesn’t mean they don’t like you. If you trained your puppy well, then you shouldn’t have this problem.
Dogs, in the past, used to bury food in a place so that they can come in eat it at a later time.
This instinct is present in today’s dogs as well. They love to take their toys, bones, and other stuff and bury it in the yard. They dig them up and transfer it to some other hole in some time.
This type of safeguarding of valuables happens in indoors also. Have you seen your dog hiding toys under your carpets and furniture? This is exactly what it is trying to achieve.
Some Breeds are Hunters!
Dogs, some of them, are natural hunters.
If they can smell a small animal under the ground like a mole or groundhog, then they are going to try to catch it.
That’s why you found so many holes in the backyard. You can easily correct the digging behavior of your dog if this is the main reason (explained in detail later).
Digging because of Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety in dogs is always a serious problem.
Your dog might feel left alone and could start digging so that it can get your attention. Once you start giving it more attention or spend more time with it, you can see that the digging is reduced.
Remember, digging is just one symptom of separation anxiety. If your dog continues to have separation anxiety, you must consult a vet and see to the problem immediately.
Eating Stuff it shouldn’t!
Dogs sometimes eat soil, grass, roots and even its own poop.
Yes, we know it is gross, but it does happen.
We are not sure if your dog enjoys it, but if it does you have a serious problem there!
So, these are some of the reasons why your dog digs in your backyard. Now, how to stop your dog from digging?
How to Stop a Dog from Digging – Methods Explained!
There are many ways to stop your dog from digging. But the method you adopt solely depends on why your dog digs. Let’s dive in.
If Your Dog is digging to keep itself Cool and Comfortable
Is your dog trying to keep itself cool by digging a hole and laying in it?
Then you need to provide with a nice, clean shelter that can keep it cool. The current one might be doing a bad job of insulating heat as a result of which your dog is digging outside.
You can also try to keep him inside your house if the temperature is too high. Not all dogs can withstand a very high temperature, and this will end badly. So do your job and keep him cool so that he doesn’t have to.
The same thing applies to a much cooler place as well. If your dog feels cold, bring him in and warm him up a bit.
Now, off to the second part. Is your dog trying to be more comfortable?
Your dog’s shelter isn’t good enough. Or your dog has grown a bit, and the kettle isn’t big enough. There can be a number of reasons why the dog isn’t feeling comfortable in its own shelter.
If your dog is well trained, then provide him with a bed. A nice, circular bed with a bit of cushion can impress even the toughest of dogs.
Don’t worry if you think the bed is a bit too little. Dog’s love to get into small beds and burrito (yes, it’s a verb from now on) themselves.
If Your Dog is too Bored (trying to Entertain himself)
Dogs love to be active. If your dog is too bored, then it starts to dig. The good thing is you can stop this very easily.
This method involves using up the dog’s energy in other activities.
Take your dog for a walk. A good walk for 20 minutes, twice a day can give enough exercise to your dog and keep him busy. Not providing enough activity to your dog is a very good reason for your dog to misbehave.
You can also play with him. Ask him to fetch the ball or a stick. Keep him busy and he’ll never bother digging your yard again. Try teaching him new commands and stimulate him mentally with those commands and other new tricks.
You can also keep some of his favorite toys in the yard. Your dog will now play with the toys, and that keeps him occupied.
If Your Dog is Trying to Escape
As we said earlier, if your dog is not a fan of confinement too much, then it is now plotting an escape.
You can confirm this if your dog is digging along the fence line.
Find out why your dog wants to get out of there. Is there something that is intimidating him? Does he not feel comfortable enough? Answer that question yourself.
Bury chicken wire under the fence with the sharp edges facing the outside. You don’t want to hurt your dog in the process.
Try placing big rocks along the fence. This will discourage the dog to dig at that particular location.
You can also try to bury the fence deep into the ground. This will prevent the dog from escaping just in case he managed to dig his way down.
Spend more time with your dog and make him understand that the yard is also his home. This will create a positive feeling about the place, and his digging efforts will slowly come down.
Your Dog is trying to Hunt
Hunting is an inbuilt instinct in dogs. They love to go after small animals in your yards like moles, chipmunks and others.
You can find out if your dog is trying to hunt an animal. He is attempting to hunt if he is digging the same place again and again or digging somewhere close to a tree root.
You can remove these small animals in a humane way. Make sure you do something that prevents them from entering your yard again.
Do not keep any poison to kill these animals. What is poison for them is more likely to be poison for your dog as well. You do not want to risk the health of your dog.
Also, don’t behave harshly if you found your dog hunting a small animal. It is a very natural thing to do for a dog, and the only thing you can do is prevent it. You can’t completely remove that thought from your dog’s head.
Your Dog is Burying his Valuables
Your dog will try to hide mostly food and chewable items that it can’t finish right away.
If you are feeding your dog something and if he doesn’t look like finishing it, chances are he is going to bury it in his favorite space in the yard.
When you have observed this long enough, try to take away the unfinished food from his mouth (like a bone). If he behaves aggressively to that, then immediately consult and get help from an animal behaviorist.
What Not to Do?
The methods as mentioned above are approved by experts and are safe ways to deal with your dogs when digging holes in your backyard or garden.
There are some methods to which you shouldn’t resort to as the results can be even more damaging.
1. Some people fill the holes dug by your dog with water. Then they hold the dog’s head in the water for a period. This is a very inhuman method and is outdated.
Your dog may not learn anything from it, and it also could lead to more aggressiveness and even worse behavioral issues.
2. Don’t hit your dog. He will not understand why he is being punished. When he doesn’t relate to the problem, there is no use in punishing him.
Your Dogs’ Special Digging Space!
What? Why would I want a special place for my dog to dig?
Because your dog just can’t stop digging. We have mentioned it several times in this post, and we are going to say that again.
It is their natural instinct. Some dogs can’t pass their time without digging something up.
In these cases, it is necessary that you give them what they need. A special place for digging.
You can either use a sandbox or mark a place as a digging zone.
If your dog digs in the intended place, reward him and praise him. This will encourage him to use the same location more often.
If he digs up a place other than the digging zone, give your dog a firm no or any other command that could stop him then and there. Immediately, take him to the digging area and let him do his job.
You can prevent your dog from digging other areas by placing some things he wouldn’t like. Stuff like chicken wire, your dog’s poop, and even rocks discourage your dog from digging that place again.
That sums up this post. We hope you found it useful. Does your dog dig? How did you tackle this problem? Tell us your story in the comment section below!
Featured photo credit: damedeeso/depositphotos