Wondering how to stop your dog from digging up your yard? Have you ever let your dog outside to go potty and get some fresh air, and you go back inside to get some stuff done around the house, then go back to let your dog in and WOAH! Your dogs paws are covered in mud… Stop right there!
Your first instinct is to scream and yell at your dog… trust me I know. The picture below is of our Ginger in our backyard a couple of years ago.
We’ve had a few dogs that decided that digging in the backyard is fun. Our first dog, Symba would dig in the flowerbed around the tree in the back. Our trainer at that time told us to fill the hole with water and shove his face in the water filled hole. I will be honest, we listened to our trainer and my husband did this once and Symba never dug again. But before you go off and tell me we were abusing our dog, that was 20+ years ago… I don’t condone this technique today.
I do think there are better ways to stop your dog from digging. In fact, our newly adopted dog, Ginger, was a digger. The first summer with us, she dug several holes in the backyard. I did take her out to the hole, and told her “NO” in a very stern voice. I then filled the hole with her feces.
She never dug in that spot again, but did dig several holes in other areas of the yard. I repeated with the stern NO and filled the hole with her poop. She dug in the backyard three more times until she gave up and hasn’t dug in the back yard since. I guess this was my “home remedy” for stopping a dog from digging.
Related reading: 5 Simple Ways to Stop Your Dog’s Pee from Killing Your Grass
To understand the how to stop a dog from digging, we need to start with the why your dog is digging…
Different dogs dig for different reasons. First step in stopping your dog from digging is to figure out WHY your dog is digging. It’s also important to come to terms with the fact that it’s natural for dogs to dig. It’s in your dogs DNA, some breeds more that others, but it is a natural instinct all dogs are born with.
Many bad behavior issues in dogs is caused by the lack of exercise and/or mental stimulation. Your dog may be digging because he is bored if he is:
You love your dog, he is your family and you'd do anything for him, right? Then you owe it to him to learn his language.
Your dog may dig under the fence to escape a loud noise or something that spooks them. Or your dog simply wants to see more of the world. Your dog may be digging to escape if he:
Dogs love to chase small animals like moles, chipmunks, gophers, rabbits and even insects. This is why I think our Ginger was digging, we have rabbits constantly in our yard and they leave their little feces in our grass all of the time. Your dog may be digging because he is hunting prey if he is:
Going back the natural instinct, it is very natural for your dog to dig on hot summer days to get cool. Your dog may be digging for comfort if he:
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Again it is a natural instinct for a dog to bury food to survive. Your dog may be digging for survival if he:
If he is burying his food or bone, ask yourself, are you feeding your dog too much. His instinct may be telling him he is full and he needs to save this bone for later when he is hungry. Do not let your dog take the bone or toy outside with him.
The best and only 100% for sure way to stop your dog from digging, is to never leave him outside unsupervised. Now if you are like most people, this may not be realistic. So if your dog insists on digging despite all of your efforts, consider giving him his own spot he is allowed to dig. A sand box is a great way to do this. You can train your dog to dig in the sand by burying his favorite toy or treat. Have fun with it and so will your dog.
We gave our dog Ginger a place she was allowed to dig – my daughters sand box. It was actually hilarious to watch, she had fun digging and we had fun watching her!
If you don’t want to give your dog his own digging spot, and you’ve tried everything to stop him from digging, then your only option is to never let your dog outside alone.
Next for you to read: 5 Simple Ways to Stop Your Dog’s Pee from Killing Your Grass
P.S. So I want to hear your story, why does your dog dig? Have you tried giving him a sand box to dig in? Comment below and help our Rescue Dogs 101 community learn more.
Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, two dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society.