Having a dog is all fun and games until they dig up the entire backyard! For some people, backyards are a place of pride where they spend a lot of time. They work hard to keep it looking excellent, but having holes strewn across the lawn is unsightly at best.
You want to keep your dog, but you also want to keep your backyard looking great! Sure, you could keep Buster inside all day, but that’s not going to benefit anyone. Instead, try utilizing any of the following 30 tips and tricks for getting your dog to stop digging up your yard. If the first one you pick doesn’t do the trick, try and try again until you find the right fit. Hopefully, soon, your backyard won’t be covered in pits!
Home Remedies that Stop your Dog from Digging
The following 30 methods for stopping your dog from digging are all easy to implement and most importantly, they’re effective. Give one of these tricks a try and you should find that your dog no longer needs to continue digging holes.
The 30 Tips & Tricks to Stop your Dog from Digging
1. Remove Burrowing Animals
Many dogs still have a strong prey drive leftover from when they were hunting dogs. This can cause them to chase small animals, even ones that burrow. Small, burrowing rodents can drive your dog crazy and they’ll work hard to try to get to them. If your dog is burrowing in an attempt to hunt these small animals, then you can stop the digging by removing the rodents.
2. Provide Plenty of Exercise
A lot of dogs dig because they get restless. Many dogs need an hour or more of physical activity each day. If they don’t get enough, they can become bored and often destructive, which is when digging occurs. A simple remedy is to start providing more exercise each day. This can be a game of fetch or several short walks spread throughout the day. The goal is just to release your dog’s excess energy so it doesn’t manifest in destructive behaviors.
3. Add Toys to the Yard
Just like kids and teens act out when they get bored, dogs do the same. Digging might just be a side effect of boredom. So, giving your dog some fun new toys to play with can be a great way to alleviate that boredom and prevent the digging from continuing. You might consider something like the Frisco Hide and Seek Plush Volcano Puzzle Dog Toy. This toy lets you stuff the dinosaurs inside where your dog has to dig them out. It’s even got a built-in speaker for crazy sound effects that keep your dog entertained while it digs the toys out for hours!
You might also like: Best Outdoor Dog Toys – Reviews & Top Picks
4. Give Your Dog a Job
Many breeds were created with specific jobs in mind, such as hunting, guarding, sled pulling, or any of the many other jobs that we give dogs. Today, many dogs from these breeds live very docile lives as companion pets, never employed in the work for which they were built. These dogs can become quite bored and act out if they don’t have a job to fulfill. A job gives them purpose and provides mental stimulation. If you can give your dog a daily task or objective to complete, you might find that the holes magically stop appearing.
5. Provide Shade
Many dogs are just digging because it’s hot out and they need a way to cool down. If you see that your dog is primarily digging around the edges of porches or buildings or they’re digging a spot under a ledge, then they’re probably just looking for some respite from the sun. In this case, your remedy is quite simple; provide some shade! If your dog is digging to escape the sun’s heat, then providing a shady spot where they can relax will most likely solve your digging problem.
6. Create a Digging Zone
Some breeds are known for their digging, such as Terriers. These dogs have digging in their blood and it’s not going to be easy to train out. So, instead of fighting nature, why not work with it instead? You can create a digging zone where your dog is allowed to dig. This can be somewhere out of the way that’s mostly hidden. Here, your dog can keep digging to their heart’s content without ruining your whole backyard, which keeps everyone happy.
7. Hide Treasure in the Digging Zone
If you’re trying to create a specified digging zone for your dog but you’re having trouble keeping their digging confined to the zone, you might try hiding some treasures in the area where you want them to dig. Try hiding treats or toys like the Nylabone Power Chew Wishbone Dog Chew Toy inside the hole and cover them up with plenty of dirt. Once your dog starts discovering that there are hidden treasures in one area of the yard, they won’t want to dig anywhere else!
8. Give Your Dog Plenty of Attention
Sometimes, dogs are simply digging as a way of getting your attention. If your dog ever seems to dig and then wait for your approval, then they’re likely just attention-seeking. All you have to do is start giving your dog more attention. But don’t do it around the time that they’re digging because this will teach them that digging gets them the attention they want; the exact opposite of the message you want to teach them.
9. Remove Incentives to Escape
Some dogs are digging to escape. While there are times this is just due to the dog’s natural desire to explore, there are other times where they’re trying to escape for a specific reason. Very likely, there’s something on the other side of the fence that they want. It might be a neighbor dog, a toy they can see, or an animal they want to chase. Granted, it might be hard to remove incentives such as wild animals that pass by your backyard. But you can make it hard for your dog to see them by covering up chain-link fences so your dog can’t see through!
Related link: 7 Humane Ways to Keep Neighbor Dogs Out of Your Yard
10. Solve Their Boredom
Maybe your dog is only digging because they’re bored. If this is the case, giving them an alternative activity should recapture their attention and prevent them from digging. A great choice would be something like the Trixie Activity Poker Box Strategy Game Dog Toy. This unique toy can provide hours of mental stimulation for your dog, ensuring that they never get bored. You can hide small treats inside the many hidden compartments in the toy. Your dog will spend hours trying to figure out how to open them to get the treats inside.
See also: Our Dog’s Favorite Dog Puzzle Toys
11. Train Your Dog Not to Dig
It might seem far-fetched, but you can actually just train your dog to stop digging. One way is to train your dog to stop digging on command. But another method that has even more uses is the “place” command. This is where you designate a specific place your dog is supposed to go when you say place, almost like a timeout. Here, your dog gets a chance to calm down. You can simply give the place command anytime your dog starts digging. They’ll return to their place and the digging will cease.
To learn how to train your dog with the place command, check out this video:
12. Scare Them with a Balloon
Is your dog always digging in the same spot? You might be able to startle them out of wanting to dig there. Many dogs are fearful of loud noises. If you’ve ever seen your dog cower during the fourth of July fireworks, then you know exactly what we’re talking about. You can use that to your advantage in this scenario. Blow up a balloon and hide it inside your dog’s hole and cover it with dirt. When your dog starts digging, their nails will pop the balloon. Hopefully, this will scare them enough that they won’t want to dig there again!
13. Use Bad Smells
Dogs have incredibly sensitive noses. It’s why they can be used for detecting substances such as drugs, explosives, and even humans. But we can turn that around and use it against our dog in this case by covering their digging grounds with foul odors. Luckily, foul odors to us and our dogs are quite different. For dogs, you can try using citronella essential oil, coffee grounds, or even citrus fruits. As a last resort, you can try burying some of your dog’s poop where they dig.
14. Stop a Dog from Digging with Pepper
If you want to take it a step further than just bad odors, you can put something on the ground that’s going to make your dog uncomfortable; cayenne pepper. When your dog starts digging and sniffing, the red pepper will fill their nostrils. Your dog will then associate this awful burning feeling with digging and will no longer want to dig! But don’t worry, this is perfectly safe and harmless for your dog.
15. Prohibit Access
While you wouldn’t want to cut your dog off from the backyard entirely, prohibiting their access can be a great way to deter digging if they’re only digging in a certain part of the yard. Block that area off so your dog can’t get to it. Naturally, they’ won’t be able to dig there anymore. Hopefully, the don’t start a new set of holes somewhere else!
16. Digging Barrier
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just lay something on the ground that would stop your dog from digging there? Well, it’s your lucky day because you definitely can. Just grab some chain-link fence or chicken wire and lay it on the ground. Your dog won’t be able to dig through the metal of the fencing, so their digging days will be done.
17. Bring Your Dog in When it Gets Too Hot
Does your dog mostly seem to dig when the temperatures start to climb? If that’s the case, then like many dogs, yours is digging to cool off. When they dig a hole, the soil in the bottom is much cooler. By laying in that hole, it helps your dog to cool off. But you can prevent the need for cooling off by simply bringing your dog inside when it gets too hot out. This is generally the best thing to try first in really hot, dry climates.
18. Provide a Cool-Down Place
Of course, you can make your dog cooler without having to bring them inside. Give your dog a nice shady area with a kiddie pool full of water. Make sure the pool is in the shade too so your dog can use it to cool off. This will allow them to regulate their temperature and cool down without the need for digging holes.
When your dog starts digging, you can simply provide a distraction. This will take some vigilance since you’ll have to watch and catch your dog in the act of digging and then distract them, but it can be a very effective technique. Some great distractions include playing a game of fetch with them, taking them for a walk, or even just giving them an entertaining puzzle toy like the Trixie Move2Win Activity Strategy Dog Toy. Just hide a few small treats in the various compartments and give the toy to your dog whenever you see them start to dig. Their attention will be redirected to the puzzle game that will keep them distracted for hours!
20. Get the Hose!
Many people like to spray their dogs with a bottle of water to prevent behaviors they disapprove of. We’re going to employ the same concept but on a slightly bigger scale. Instead of grabbing a little spray bottle, we’re going to grab the garden hose! Whenever you see your dog start digging, just spray them with the hose. After a few times of this, your dog will start to associate digging with getting sprayed; a result they don’t want. With a little luck, your dog should stop digging since they don’t want to be sprayed!
21. Ground Cover
One way to stop your dog from digging is to make it so they can’t. If your yard is dirt, it’s an easy medium for dogs to rip up. But if your yard was covered in rocks, then it wouldn’t be such an easy dig. Granted, covering your backyard with rock or something similar isn’t the cheapest way to stop your dog from digging. But it definitely will work! And it might make your backyard look brand new in the process, a real win-win.
22. Solve their Separation Anxiety
Many dogs get incredibly anxious when their owners aren’t around. This condition is called separation anxiety and it can lead to a lot of destructive behaviors including digging holes.
There are two main ways to cure separation anxiety; through training or through supplementation.
If you want to train the separation anxiety out of your dog, check out this video for more information.
You can also try giving your dog some calming supplements such as the PetHonesty Hemp Calming Anxiety & Hyperactivity Soft Chews. Just feed a couple of these tasty treats to your dog and within 45 minutes they’ll start to calm down. You can give your dog a treat before you leave them outside or anytime that you’re going to be gone and don’t want your dog to get anxious.
23. Plant Some Cactus
Just like you, your dog doesn’t want to brush up against a prickly cactus. By planting some cactus around the areas where your dog is digging, you can easily stop them from continuing. Of course, cactus doesn’t look good in every environment, so this one may be geographically dependent. You’ll also have to decide if you want to risk accidentally pricking yourself with the spines!
24. Stop Your Dog from Hiding Treats
Many dogs instinctively dig just to hide food and treats for later use. But if you stop them from hiding treats, you can stop them from digging. You can try removing the treats when they bury them so they’re not there when they go back, though this sometimes can cause them to dig more holes. You could also only give them one treat at a time and make them eat it where you can see so you can be sure they aren’t hoarding any to bury out back for later!
25. Remove Easy to Dig Mediums
If your yard is too easy to dig, then it could be difficult to prevent your dog from trying. Soft sandy areas are always culprit as well as anywhere the soil is soft. These places are the most likely areas where your dog will start to dig, so try removing these soft mediums so your dog doesn’t have anywhere to dig.
26. Calm Your Dog Down
Sometimes dogs are just digging because they’re hyper or overly-excited. Many things can cause a dog to be excited. Food time, seeing their leash, new people in the home, hearing a toy, seeing an animal, and many more. So how do you calm your dog down? One way is to try the NaturVet Hemp Quiet Moments Dog Chews. These can help to quickly and painlessly calm down an excited pooch. You could also watch this video for a few more ideas on calming down excited dogs.
27. Give Them a Safe Space
Often, dogs are actually digging because they’re scared. Digging a hole in the ground gives them a safe place to curl up and hide. But if you provide a space that feels safe for them, then they won’t need to dig. You could try a dog house or a crate with plenty of comfy blankets or a dog bed inside. Make sure it’s well-ventilated but cozy. If it’s too spacious, it won’t make your dog feel protected.
28. Be Careful About Yard Work
Dogs follow their noses. When you do yard work, you’re turning up lots of new soil and exposing loads of new scents. These smells can drive your dog crazy, prompting them to hunt for whatever’s causing them. This can lead to your dog digging holes all over, attempting to find the object of its fascination. When you do yard work, be sure to thoroughly clean up and try to be aware of the scents you might be uncovering.
29. Check if Your Dog is Pregnant
Mother dogs dig holes to protect their pups right before they give birth. It’s possible that your dog is pregnant and you never knew it! Obviously, there’s not really a cure for this. Just wait until the pups come and the holes should stop.
30. Take a Trip to the Vet
Does your dog have dirt stuck to its lips after every digging session? It’s possible that your dog is digging to eat the dirt. If this is the case, it’s likely the sign of something more serious. You’re going to need some professional help with this one as it’s beyond the scope of a home remedy, so call up your vet and schedule an immediate visit. This behavior could be due to a dietary deficiency or a medical disorder. Either way, it needs treatment ASAP.
Conclusion: Stop Dogs From Digging
It can be incredibly frustrating when our dogs are behaving in ways that we don’t understand and can’t seem to be able to do anything about. If your dog is digging holes in your yard, this destructive behavior can start to build resentment in you as you watch your once-beautiful yard fall into ruin. Meanwhile, your dog is acting out because of some problem that they can’t communicate to you.
Hopefully, after reading these 30 methods for preventing your dog from digging holes in your yard, you’ve got a better idea of what might be causing your dog’s behavior and how to fix it. Now it’s time to choose a method and get to work. Soon, your yard will be back to its former glory and your dog will be much healthier and happier as well.
- Related Read: 5 Ways to Dog Proof Your Yard – A Complete Guide
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