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How to Stop a Dog From Digging

How to stop a dog from digging
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One of the most common questions canine experts get asked is how to stop a dog from digging. Far from being “naughty” behavior, digging is a completely natural behavior.

Dogs dig for one of two primary reasons: boredom or comfort. However, certain breeds such as terriers may have an increased drive to dig.

Bust Boredom and Stop Your Dog From Digging

As I mentioned above, one of the main reasons dogs dig is boredom. So, before we get into how to stop your dog digging, let’s look at some ideas on how you can break your dog’s boredom.

The easiest way to break boredom is to keep your dog entertained and stimulated. Here are three things that we do to keep our dogs, and us, entertained for hours. And they are all home made;

  • A tennis ball placed inside an old sock with a knot tied at the end
  • Old knotted fabric soaked in beef stock and frozen
  • Grab an old cardboard tube, pour some treats out and duct tape the ends shut. Your dog will love the challenge of getting every last piece out!

Okay, so the last one can make the yard really messy with bits of cardboard everywhere, but its worth it.

The key to stopping a dog from digging is to keep things new and exciting so make sure to rotate your dog’s toys. Not only will you get to see the excitement on your dog’s face as you bring out something “new” but the constant recycling will save you money!

When the Owner Is Away, Dogs Will Play

Leaving a dog alone all day in the yard is asking for trouble, particularly a younger untrained dog. Left on their own to do as they please is exactly what a dog is going to do.

Chester, our Newfoundland puppy.

When we got Chester, a Newfoundland puppy, we were fortunate to be able to spend the first week at home with him.

We spent this time bonding and ticking off a list of basic training. Things like potty training and crate training, as well as setting some boundaries around the house.

We also ‘Chester proofed’ the yard by letting him test the fence for weaknesses and patched a few areas that looked like they might be an eventual portal to escape.

He learned quickly, or so we thought, that the flower and vegetable gardens were a no-go-zones. More on that later.

He liked his new kennel and slept in it without issue, only barking once or twice on the first night. All in all, we were very happy with the progress being made.

We Had Nailed It, or So We Thought

However, things were not so smoothe on day one of the second week. My partner and I were back at work, so we left Chester in the yard with the confort of knowing he had:

  • plenty of water
  • enough shade from the sun – trees and his kennel
  • we scattered some of his favourite toys about the yard
  • as well as a few bones

What more could a dog want, right!

How Much Damage Can a Puppy Cause In One Day

Now if you have owned dogs you can probably guess where this is heading. And you’d be right. It wasn’t good.

I received a phone call mid moring from a neighbor to say that Chester was barking a lot and could become a nuisence. The neighbor understood that Chester was a ‘puppy in training’ and was forgiving. However, they were concerned that other neighbors might not be so understanding.

I know that we would have to do something about that when I got home. So I asked Google “How to stop a dog Barking” and that’s when I found The Online Dog Trainer that we now feature throughout this website.

But as it turned out, barking was the least of our problems.

Total Destruction

When we got home that afternoon we arrived at, what can best described as mini war zone. He’d destroyed all his toys. There was not a single flower or vegetable standing in the garden.

He’d had fun with the garden hose, it was in a thousand pieces and he’d also managed to unearth the irrigation system, which fortunatly wasn’t turned on.

And he’d tried to dig under the fence in at least half a dozen places. We could not believe how much destruction one little puppy could have caused.

Needless to say that was the last day he spent unsupervised in the yard.

From that day on, whenever we went out, he was either in the house in his crate or in his kennel.

Although that wasn’t all we did, that would be too easy, it was one of the key things. Listed below are some of the other things that we did and while I’d like to say that was the end of the story, its enough for now.

How To Stop A Bored Dog From Digging Holes

We learned a lot that day. Let me share some of that wisdom with you now.

These are not necessarily in order of priority, we’ll let you decide on what is a priority for you and your situation. However, that being said;

The first and probably most important thing is that when you need to leave your dog home alone, put him in a crate or locked away in a kennel.

Secondly, provide plenty of entertainment for your dog, so that they can keep themselves out of mischief.

There are some great toys on the market designed to keep dogs entertained for hours. One such toy is: Hound Hide-A-Squirrel and Puzzle Plush Squeaking Toys for Dogs

Before you buy/give your dog a new toy, be sure that it is appropriate for your dog – age, teeth and size. It is also important to replace your dogs toys as and when they become warn out, because you don’t want your dog swallowing or choking on toy fragments.

Certain dog breeds such as terriers may have an increased drive to dig

Some Dogs Are Born to Dig

If your dog is one of them, keep them happy by setting up a designated sandbox or dirt pit of thier own. However, you will need to train your dog that this area is for digging and not toileting!

One way to do this is to bury a few toys for your dog to discover and then reward him for digging in this area. And when your dog tries to dig in another of the yard, gently guide him back to his digging area.

We did this for Chester, and he soon figured it out, and we never had a problem with him digging in the back yard after that – note: I said we never had a problem with him digging in the ‘back yard’ after that!

Give Your Dog a Digging Sanctuary!

The most effective way to stop a dog from digging and destroying your garden is to provide them with their own area to dig!

A child’s sandpit makes the perfect digging retreat for your dog – a sandpit no longer being used by children! Fill the sandpit or other contained area with loose dirt and hide favorite toys as treasures for them to discover!

Expand Your Dog’s World

Keep in mind that if confined to the yard, your dog’s world is very small.

Taking your dog for regular walks will provide them with much-needed exercise and stimulation which has the added advantage that it is also a great way to stop a dog from digging once home.

Redirect Your Dog Positively

Refrain from the temptation to turn the hose on your dog or scold them as a way to stop them digging. If your pooch is digging somewhere they shouldn’t, firmly say “No’ and redirect them to their digging sanctuary.

If your dog digs in their digging zone provide them with plenty of praise to celebrate their good behaviour and reinforce that this is the right place to do so!

How To Crate Train your Puppy

Provide Your Dog With Comfort – So They Don’t Have to Dig For It!

One of the reasons your dog may be digging is to find shelter from the environment. Dogs will often burrow into the cold dirt to find comfort from the hot sun, or to form protective trenches against icy winds.

Bring your dog inside during extreme weather conditions and make sure they have a cozy dog house that provides shelter. Sheepskin dog beds are natural fiber perfect for dog houses; these snuggly beds keep them cool and fresh in summer, and warm and cozy in winter.

Also make sure that you clean your dogs bedding and sleeping areas regularly to keep it pest and dirt free. An infestation of dog fleas, ticks or any other bugs are good reason to make a dog dig!

Digging Can Also Be a Sign That Your Dog Is Anxious

Digging can also be a sign that your dog is aanxious and might be trying to escape from the yard, or find companionship, by digging a hole, or holes, under the fence.

If you think your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, you might like to read our article: How To Prevent Puppy Separation Anxiety

Make sure that your dog has a comfortable and safe place to hang out while at home alone, also check to see that your dog does spend time in this area and is happy.

What might look like a nice and comfortable place for a dog to YOU may not be so for your dog!

Things to Keep in Mind to Stop Your Dog From Digging

To keep your dog happy but still save your garden make sure to

  • Provide your pet with plenty of stimulation
  • Give your pet a sheltered, safe place to relax
  • Create a digging sanctuary for your dog to get out any digging urges
  • Keep positive!  Positive reinforcement is the most effective way to train your dog

Did the information in this article help?

We’d love to here your dog digging stories, please feel free to share them with us.

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