How to Stop Your Dog From Digging in Your Yard
Whether he's born to dig or digs because he's bored, a canine can learn to keep his paws to himself
If your pup’s perpetual digging is turning your yard into an obstacle course of holes and piles of earth, it’s time to put a stop to it. Otherwise the problem is going to get bigger and deeper.
Step one of stopping Fido from trying to tunnel to China is figuring out why he’s using his paws like a backhoe driver on speed in the first place. The most common cause of destructive digging is boredom. This often can be countered by stepping up the amount of exercise a dog gets, according to Helen Cariotis, past president of the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors.
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But if extra or longer walks don’t stop the digging, you need to do a little digging of your own. Watch where he’s digging and what he does when he stops and you’re likely to learn why he’s doing it.
Here, Cariotis's advice on how to avoid and deal with a dog that digs in the yard.
l. Choose a non-digging breed in the first place. "Terriers were born to dig," says Cariotis. Dachshunds are famous for digging, too. If your landscape is green and lush and you want to keep it that way, choose a breed that's not genetically programmed to dig.
2. Create a digging zone. If you already own a dig-happy dog — he tends to dig to bury balls or toys or you're convinced digging is just his nature, give him a "digging allowed" place, such as a pile of sand or upturned earth, suggests Cariotis, and then train him where it's safe to dig.
3. Spend time with your dog. To prevent a bored pup from digging for entertainment, practice boredom prevention. Take him on at least two long walks a day. Jog with him if possible. If you don't have time or the physical ability to exercise your dog enough, hire someone to walk him. Work away from home or occasionally have a long day in the office? Consider doggy day care or hire a neighborhood teen to play with the dog for an hour each day.
4. Look for signs he needs more attention. If Scout digs even when you’re around he may need more interaction from you. If this is the case he also may bark and chew on himself. Rather than scold him, give him positive attention: Teach him commands and tricks. Brushing and grooming can help too.
5. Get rid of critters. Notice where your dog likes to dig. If he's drawn to the roots of a tree, the edge of a fence or what appears to be a raised tunnel, he’s probably scrounging for some type of burrowing animal. Enthusiastic ground sniffing before digging is another sign a dog is after wild critters. Get rid of them humanely and not with poison that the dog could eat.
6. Help him cool off. Does Fido like to dig a body-sized trough to loll around in? He may be trying to cool off. Create a shady spot for him to lie under by suspending a tarp between a few trees. Of if it’s really hot where you live, consider setting a kiddy pool for him to splash around in.
7. Help him stay warm. In cold weather, a dog may try to burrow into the ground for warmth. A better option: a doghouse that's a few inches off the ground. According to the Human Society, such a shelter should be big enough to allow the dog can sit and lie down, but not so big that it fails to retain the dog's body heat. If it's really frigid, keep the dog inside.