Dog digging is an instinctual behavior. Although it is normal, it can morph into an uncontrollable habit. Identifying its causes can help you find the best solutions on how to stop a dog from digging.
Reasons Why Dogs Dig, Plus Effective Solutions
Has your dog turned your garden into his own personal excavation site? Here are the most common reasons behind this puzzling dog behavior. We have also included tips on how to stop a dog from digging holes on the ground.
1. Your dog is in hunting mode.
Why is my dog digging everywhere? Your canine buddy may have noticed insects or a burrowing animal somewhere on your lawn; thus, triggering a hunting expedition.
You will know if the digging is due to hunting when the dug holes are found in certain parts of your back garden. These are usually located at the roots of bushes or trees.
How to stop a dog from digging when he is in hunting mode
- Locate the burrowing creatures in your garden, particularly at the dig sites. Then find safe ways to fence the said animals out of your garden or make the area unpleasant for them.
2. Your canine friend is bored.
When dogs feel bored because they are left for long periods of time without anything to do, they will dig holes. Canines need physical and mental stimulation, and if they are not getting both, they are likely to engage in undesirable behavior.
How to stop a dog from digging when he is bored
- Provide your dog with chew toys to keep him busy to forgo digging.
- Designate more playtime for your pooch.
- Take your dog for a walk every day or engage him in games such as playing fetch, Frisbee, or obstacle course. If you have a high-energy dog, such as a Terrier, walk him at least 2 times daily.
- Train your dog to follow certain commands or do simple tricks. Spend about 5–10 minutes daily in teaching him a new skill.
3. Your dog wants some attention.
If your pet only digs when you are present, it may be an attention-seeking behavior. This is especially true if he keeps getting reprimanded for doing such a thing. The disciplining allows him to get your attention.
Canines with separation anxiety may also exhibit this dog behavior. Burrowing relentlessly on the ground is their way of relieving anxiety and coping with the absence of their dog owners.
How to stop a dog from digging when he seeks your attention
- Increase spending time with your dog to ease his loneliness or anxiety of being away from you.
- Train your dog to settle down. Let him stay on his dog bed, and only reward him if he is calm and does not exhibit attention-seeking behavior.If he tries to get your attention, his efforts must be ignored to avoid encouraging him to repeat this undesirable behavior.
- If your dog has separation anxiety, consider using a dog calming pheromone. As this behavioral problem can be difficult to solve on your own, think about asking for help from a professional dog trainer too.
4. Your dog is feeling the heat.
The ground is cooler below the surface. Thus, they dig to create a cool spot where they can lay in on a hot day.
If your dog digs near the base of large trees, building foundations, and water sources, it is likely that he just wants to cool himself down.
How to stop a dog from digging when he wants to cool down
- If your dog spends a long time in the back garden during the day, build a comfortable outdoor shelter. This should safeguard your dog from both the cold and heat.
- Placing soft, cool bedding on a shady spot can also help stop your dog from digging.
- Take your furry friend indoors more often, especially during an extremely hot day or a bad weather.
- If your dog sleeps outdoors, always give him easy access to fresh water as it helps him cool down.
It is similar to unearthing dirt to make a comfy nest, giving them a sense of comfort or protection. Even if the digging is unnecessary, dogs are still likely to do it with indoor furnishing. This is because the burrowing behavior is deeply ingrained in their DNA.
5. Your dog is digging to escape.
Are the digging spots found along or under your fence? That tells you that your pooch wants to get away.
If your dog is trying to escape, he may be attempting to avoid something unpleasant or he is curious about what is happening on the other side of the fence. If your dog has not been neutered yet, he is probably trying to get to another dog.
How to stop a dog from digging when he wants to escape
- Bury chicken wire underneath the dog fence. The direction of the sharp edges must be away from your yard.
- Put a chain-link barrier at the bottom of your fence. This will make walking along the perimeter unpleasant for your canine escape artist.
- Another way how to stop dogs from digging under the fence is to place a large, flat rock and partially bury it at the bottom of the fence line.
- Neutering or spaying intact dogs will aid in reducing their urge to roam and find a mate.
6. Your dog is a dedicated digger.
Some dog breeds, such as the Beagle, Border Collie, Dachshund, and those in the Terrier Group, love to dig, as they are natural excavators. Burrowing is in their genes, as they are bred to dig and hunt below the ground.
As such, they will still burrow despite many attempts to correct such behavior. Rather than prevent them from doing what is natural to them, teach them to dig appropriately.
How to stop a dog from digging when he is predisposed to digging behavior
- Assign a burrowing pit for your dog. Train your dog to dig in the designated spot with treats and rewards.Put his favourite toys and treats in his digging zone. You can bury some of them in a shallow depth. Once he uncovers the treat, give him lots of praises.
- Let your dog participate in dog sports particularly earthdog trials. In this activity, dogs burrow through an underground tunnel to find a securely caged rat. This dog sport will satisfy your pooch’s urge to dig.
- You can also spread some deterrents such as citrus peels on the areas he frequents to dig. Does vinegar stop dogs from digging? Yes, it can help stop digging behavior in dogs. Place a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spritz it on your dog’s digging spots.
Can you use cayenne pepper to stop a dog from digging? Yes, cayenne pepper is also an effective dog-digging deterrent. Sprinkle a small amount of it on his digging spot.
If he caught a whiff of it, it can irritate his nostrils and repel him from approaching the area again.
Do coffee grounds repel dogs? Yes, coffee grounds do repel dogs. However, avoid using this as a digging deterrent as it is poisonous to canines.
Do dogs grow out of digging?
Some dogs will grow out of digging as they mature. However, others will retain this dog behavior such as Terrier breeds.
The best way to deal with their digging, as mentioned earlier, is to create designated digging areas are where they can burrow freely.
When you catch your dog digging outside his burrowing pit, correction must be done during the act and should be carried out with a calm yet confident demeanour.
Avoid punishing your dog after a dig, as it is already too late. Also, doling out harsh punishments will worsen his behavior, as it brings your dog more fear and anxiety.
Moreover, you should never let your pet see you covering up the holes. He will think that you are approving his behavior as you seem to be “playing” with the dirt.