So your dog is an excavating machine, and your lawn looks more like a beach than a back yard. We’ll show you how to stop a dog from digging, but first you need to understand exactly what’s affecting your dog.
When it’s More Than a Digging Problem…
Dogs dig for many reasons, but problem digging has 5 main causes.
The worst of these is when it’s just one part of broader ‘Crazy Dog Behavior‘ where your dog also barks too much, jumps up, drags you around on the leash or generally causes mayhem. If this describes your dog, head straight to our Crazy Dog article for help.
Common Causes of Problem Digging
- Basic Shelter
- Burying Bones, and…
- The Big One
Let’s poke our noses into all of these.
1. Basic Shelter
On a hot day, a dog will dig a hole to lay in to get cooler. The heat of the day doesn’t penetrate far into the earth, so even a few inches can deliver a big difference in temperature. On cold, windy days, a good sized hole can also provide a windbreak.
How to stop a dog from digging for shelter?
Simply remove the need. If it’s hot, make sure your dog has plenty of water and shade (and think about how the shade moves around during the day). Make sure your dog house has good ventilation.
On cold, windy days, make sure your dog has somewhere snug to get out of the wind. If you have an outdoor dog play pen, simple measures like covering the windward side with fabric can make a huge difference.
Dog Houses and Kennels
Dogs often enjoy digging, so you need to give them better alternatives to pass their time. Ideally, you should soak up some of their energy by exercising them before you leave them alone. Dogs sleep more than we do, so wearing them out plays to their natural tendencies. And sleeping dogs don’t dig.
Learn more about how much dogs sleep.
But of course they will wake up again…
How to stop a dog from digging due to boredom?
Make sure they have a good selection of appropriate dog toys, or even some high tech dog games to keep them amused. If that doesn’t stop your dog from digging, you may have a bigger issue; keep reading.
Dog Puzzle Games
Confound your hound (or at least keep them amused) as they hunt for the hidden treats!
Dog Chew Toys
Every dog needs to chew, so give them some of these!
Interactive Dog Toys
High Tech Dog Games
YES, bugs! And it could be a bunny like the one of Disney fame, but it’s fare more likely the beetle variety. We’re talking about anything that might be hiding underground. Your dog can hear them digging down there, so their hunting instincts come to the fore. Many dogs will pursue that underground critter relentlessly. Unfortunately, that means a hole in your lawn. Possibly many holes.
How to stop a dog from digging for prey?
The only sure way is to remove the pests yourself.
- Step 1 for this problem is identifying the actual pest involved.
- Step 2 is investigating a dog-friendly way to target that specific pest.
Be careful. For some treatments, like Spectracide Triazicide Insect Killer For Lawns, you need to keep your dog well away until after the product has done its work.
4. Burying Bones
Back when they were wild, dogs used digging as one of their survival skills. They would bury excess food to consume later when fresh food became scarce. But your domesticated dog can rely on you for regular food, so there’s no need any more to bury bones.
You don’t want to fight against your dog’s nature, so the best way to prevent burying behavior is to make sure your dog doesn’t have more bone(s) than they can chew through in one sitting.
There’s another important reason you should never leave your dog effectively in charge of their own food. In a dog’s mind, being the boss of the food is a privilege reserved for the pack leader, and letting your dog get ideas about leadership is a very bad thing.
And that actually leads us to the last cause, the Big One.
5. How to Stop a Dog from Digging Due to Stress
Some dog behaviorists talk about separation anxiety, but that’s just the surface of the problem. The important point is why a dog becomes stressed when their owner leaves.
The why in this case is almost always that the dog thinks that they are responsible for the human rather than the other way around.
If your dog believes they are the pack leader, they have to look after the pack members. If one of the pack wanders off, they need to round them up. Your dog may initially bark to call you back, but once you’re gone they feel they have failed their duty as pack leader.
Different dogs react to this stress in different ways. Some will dig, often looking to escape the confines of the yard so they can chase you down (the holes are mainly along the fence line). Some dogs will become neurotic in other ways, and might for example chew their own paws and legs in frustration. (More info: Dogs licking and chewing their paws.)
If your dog has behavior problems or is showing signs of stress, it’s time to get the right help. Fortunately, that help is easy to find below. Doggy Dan’s method cures the cause of the stress in a calm and gentle way. Take the free trial now and see how it works.