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How to Stop Your Dog from Digging

Dogs digging at the beach.

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but they still have times that drive their humans crazy. Sometimes rambunctious canines dig in the lawn, in your garden, and even in the couch cushions! Digging is as much of an instinctual behavior for dogs as barking and sniffing. Unfortunately for owners, digging holes is irritating at best and can even be dangerous for the dog.

Why Do Dogs Dig?

One of the most common reasons for digging is from boredom. Dogs dig when they’re in need of attention, exercise, or entertainment. Some breeds, like terriers and beagles who are bred to hunt prey, have a strong drive for digging. Other reasons dogs dig include:

  • Being left alone in the yard for long periods of time
  • Burying bones or toys to keep them “safe” from being stolen
  • Having recently watched you gardening or working in the yard
  • Trying to escape along a fence.

How Can I Make It Stop?

To get your dog to stop digging, address the underlying reasons for the behavior. If you catch your pup digging, redirect them to another activity. Use praise to encourage good behavior instead of punishment. Some ideas to try:

  1. Walk your dog daily. Even a slow short walk with time for sniffing can be stimulating.
  2. Give your pooch lots of attention including play time, pets, and cuddles.
  3. Train your pet to do a few basic commands like “sit” or “watch me” and practice 5-10 minutes a day.
  4. Use interactive toys like balls and tug toys.
  5. Get puzzles, snuffle mats, licking mats, or treat-filled Kong’s to keep them busy while you’re away.
  6. Secure fences, place large rocks in the area, or bury chicken wire to deter digging.

For dogs with a strong instinct for digging, some dog owners may choose to set aside an area in the yard for digging, filled with sand or loose soil. A child-sized sandbox can be a great option for making this work. Bury toys for them to find so the dog learns where it’s appropriate to dig. For all your important pet questions, from behavior problems to health issues, our team at Town & Country Animal Hospital is here to guide you through it all. Call us at (256) 232-0698 to schedule your next wellness exam.