How to Stop Your Dog from Digging

Understanding the Reasons Behind Digging

Reasons for Digging

Dogs dig due to several reasons, ranging from boredom to hunting instincts. Recognizing why your dog is digging is essential for finding the right solution. Here’s a closer look at some common reasons.

Boredom and Excess Energy

When a dog lacks physical and mental stimulation, they often resort to digging. This is especially true for high-energy breeds. Without sufficient exercise or engaging activities, dogs may develop destructive behaviors like digging to pass the time.


  • Regular Exercise: Take your dog for daily walks.
  • Interactive Play: Engage in activities like fetch or tug-of-war.
  • Puzzle Toys: Invest in toys that challenge your dog mentally.

Attention Seeking

Dogs are social creatures that thrive on interaction. If they feel neglected, they may dig to capture your attention. This behavior is their way of saying, “Look at me!”


  • Quality Time: Spend dedicated time with your dog each day.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Reward good behavior to encourage it.
  • Redirection: Redirect their attention with toys or commands.

Comfort and Protection

Some dogs dig to create a comfortable resting spot. This is especially common in hot weather, where digging into the soil could provide a cooler place to lie down.


  • Shelter: Ensure your dog has a comfortable place to rest.
  • Temperature Control: Provide a shaded area and plenty of water.
  • Comfort Items: Use beds or cooling mats to keep them comfortable.

Hunting and Prey Drive

Dogs with a strong prey drive may dig to catch small animals. This instinctual behavior can be challenging to curb, but not impossible.


  • Remove Animals: Use humane methods to rid your yard of burrowing animals.
  • Alternative Activities: Redirect their prey drive with chase or scent games.
  • Supervision: Monitor your dog when outside to prevent digging.


If your dog is digging near fences or gates, they might be trying to escape. This can be due to anxiety, fear, or the desire to explore.


  • Secure Fencing: Bury fences one to two feet beneath the soil.
  • Obstacles: Use large rocks or chicken wire at the base of the fence.
  • Behavioral Training: Reward your dog for staying inside the yard.

Effective Solutions to Stop Digging

Redirect to a Designated Digging Area

Creating a designated digging area like a sandbox can help manage digging behavior. Encourage your dog to use this space by burying toys or treats in it.


  1. Choose a Spot: Pick a part of your yard where digging is acceptable.
  2. Set Up: Create a sandbox filled with loose soil or sand.
  3. Encourage Use: Bury toys or treats to attract your dog.

Provide Adequate Exercise and Mental Stimulation

A well-exercised dog is a happy and tired dog. Regular physical activities combined with mental challenges can significantly reduce digging behavior.


  • Walks: Go for daily walks tailored to your dog’s energy level.
  • Interactive Toys: Use puzzle toys for mental stimulation.
  • Games: Play interactive games like hide and seek.

Use Deterrents

Deterrents can discourage your dog from digging in unwanted areas. Pet-safe options like citrus peels or repellant sprays are useful.


  • Citrus Peels: Spread orange or lemon peels in areas where digging is a problem.
  • Repellant Sprays: Use commercially available sprays that are safe for pets.

Fill Holes with Poop

Dogs dislike the smell of their own poop. By filling holes with a small amount of their poop and covering it with dirt, you create an unpleasant association with digging.


  1. Collect Poop: Gather a small amount of your dog’s poop.
  2. Fill Hole: Place the poop in the hole and cover it with dirt.
  3. Monitor: Observe if the behavior changes.

Consult a Professional

If your dog’s digging is persistent, seeking help from a professional like a dog trainer or veterinary behaviorist can provide personalized solutions.


  • Assessment: Professional assessment of your dog’s behavior.
  • Guidance: Tailored strategies to address the specific cause.
  • Follow-Up: Continuous follow-up to ensure success.

What Not to Do

Avoid Punishment

Punishing your dog for digging can exacerbate the issue and lead to increased anxiety or fear. Positive reinforcement and redirection are far more effective strategies.


  • Negative Impact: Punishment can worsen the behavior.
  • Anxiety Increase: It can lead to increased stress and anxiety.
  • Better Alternatives: Focus on positive reinforcement and redirection.

For more insights into understanding your dog’s behavior, read this article which delves into the nuances of canine comprehension.


*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through one of my links, at no cost to you.

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