How to Stop Dog from Digging

Wondering how to stop dog from digging? If your yard is starting to resemble planet Mars, you know you have a dog with an excavation problem.

But as troublesome as digging may appear to be, the good news is that there a variety of ways to deal with this problem behavior.

Truth is, digging is a totally normal behavior for dogs. Actually, certain breeds were even selectively bred for this quality!

So if your dog is digging his way to China, take a deep breath and relax; you can really stop dog from digging and enjoy your wonderful landscape once again.

Understanding Dog Digging Behaviors

Dogs may dig for a variety of reasons and understanding them better will help you find the most appropriate solution.

In nature, it is instinctive for a female dog to dig so to build a den to raise her young. Dogs may also dig to build a comfortable bed if it is too cold or too warm. In a domestic setting, dogs may often dig out of boredom, frustration or simply as a way to keep themselves mentally stimulated.

A dog suffering from separation anxiety may dig when left alone in hopes of finding its way out of the home. If critters such as moles and groundhogs live underground, dogs may find it entertaining to dig in hopes of gaining access to them.

People often associate dog digging with dogs burying valued treasures such as bones or favorite toys. And while that may be true, many dogs dig just for the fun of it; nothing beats the excitement of digging in hopes of unveiling exiting sights and smells!

Stop Dog Digging

The Most Common Digging Candidate

Which dogs are more likely to dig?

  1. Dogs left for a long time in the yard are particularly prone to bouts of digging in hopes of relieving their boredom and frustration.
  2. Puppies and young dogs in particular love to dig because it is a fun and entertaining way for them to discover the world.
  3. A pregnant dog getting near to giving birth may dig when searching for a place to whelp but female dogs undergoing a fake pregnancy may also do the same.
  4. Certain types of dogs, such as Terriers, were selectively bred to dig for the purpose of hunting underground rabbits, badgers and rats.
  5. Underexercised dogs may find digging to be a great way to release pent-up energy, whereas escape artist dogs find digging rewarding especially if they can get out by digging under a fence!

Digging behaviors are quite common in these dogs. There are few dogs that are not immune from the "digging bug"; most dogs indeed will happily engage in a digging session given the right opportunity.

How to Stop Dog From Digging

The resolution for the digging problem is closely connected to its underlying cause:

  1. A dog is suffering from separation anxiety must be treated for this condition. Follow these treating separation anxiety in dogs instructions for details.
  2. A dog digging from boredom or lack of exercise should be provided with more mental stimulation and opportunities for exercising.
  3. Dogs digging to escape should be prevented from doing so by investing in a sturdier fence and cementing existing holes. As an added level of security, you may install electronic dog fencing around the perimeter of your property.
  4. Overheated dogs should be provided with an appropriate shelter; an insulated dog house icon may be helpful in such case.

While digging may be troublesome, especially when your dog ruins your flower beds and landscaping, you should not totally discourage this behavior because it is natural overall.

Managing your dog's environment in such a way as to prevent access to areas you wish to remain undisturbed is a great compromise. We will next see some effective strategies to reduce and stop dog from digging in your favorite areas.

Ways to Discourage and Stop Dog Digging

Discouraging dog digging and limiting his access to certain areas is also a way to keep a dog safe. Indeed, dirt may often contain chemicals such as fertilizers and traces of toxins such as weed killers and insecticides. Certain types of mulches such as cocoa mulch and cedar chips may also be toxic to dogs. Poisonous plants are also often commonly found in yards.

Following are some tips on how to reduce and stop dog from digging in certain areas.

  1. Invest in garden fencing so you can place it around areas you don't want your dog to dig. Many dogs are discouraged because of the inconvenience of going through them.
  2. Place your dog in a outdoor dog play pen when he must be taken outside but cannot be properly supervised.
  3. Provide a designated area for digging. A digging pit can be made attractive by filling it up with loose dirt or sand. Valued toys can be buried to further make digging in the area attractive.
  4. Protect your valued plants and shrubs by installing a motion-activated device that sounds an alarm or sprays a sudden burst of water.
  5. Stop dog from digging by burying some chicken wire under your dog's favorite digging spots; most dogs do not like the feel of the wire under their paws.
  6. Some dog owners find that burying dog feces in common digging areas stop dog from digging because dogs dislike touching their poop. However, this may have an opposite effect and increase digging habits in dogs suffering from coprophagia (a dog eating feces behavior) since they will feel compelled to find their "treasures".
  7. In some cases, where no other solutions have worked, a remote training collar may prove helpful to stop dog from digging by activating it the moment the dog digs in a non-designated area.

Here are 2 more tips to keep your pet safe:

  1. If you use fertilizers and chemicals on your lawn, keep your dog away for a day or two until you thoroughly water the lawn.
  2. While it's a good idea to surround newly planted trees with a protective wire, don't use a thin wire that your dog can't see and can run into.

Here is a brief video that talks about some of the things we just covered in this article...

Final Thoughts...

As I've shown, there are various strategies to resort to in order to stop dog digging. Always make sure your dog's basic needs for exercise and mental stimulation are met -- a tired dog is generally a good dog.

Digging is ultimately not a bad behavior; it just becomes annoying when dogs dig in unwanted areas. Finding proper ways to stop dog from digging without totally getting rid of this natural instinct is a win-win solution for all.

Related Articles

You may also wish to explore the following articles:

Want to learn more?

Puppy Training

Need even more advice? I highly recommend you read and follow this dog training guide. You'll find lots of information on dealing with many behavioral problems, including dog digging.


Find this article interesting? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments, and as always, your +1's, Shares, Facebook likes and retweets are appreciated.



Search this site or click here to search the Web


Stop Dog from Digging » Puppy Behavior

Association of Pet Dog Trainers - Dog Training Professionals Member#: 73641
Puppy Rescue Adoption in your Area
Puppy Rescue Adoption in your Area

Featured Article

Puppy Training

Guide to Leash Training a Puppy or Dog

"The process of leash training a puppy or dog requires a step-by-step approach so to help instill positive..."
...continue reading