How to Stop Dogs from Digging

Dog Digging Hole In Backyard
Ruth Floresca / EyeEm / Getty Images

Many dog owners complain that their dogs spend too much time digging in the yard. This common dog behavior problem can be exasperating, but there are some things you can do to stop dogs from digging.

Don't Leave Dogs Outside

Most dogs love being outside, but it's not possible for dog owners to spend all day, every day out in the yard with their dogs. Instead, owners sometimes let their dogs go outside to play on their own for a portion of the day. Unfortunately, left to their own devices, dogs often find a way to entertain themselves. For many dogs, this means digging holes all over the yard. The best way to begin fixing this problem is to only allow your dog to be outside when you can supervise.

Exercise and Playtime

Dogs often dig in the yard because they're bored. They need playtime with you and exercise to help end the boredom. Plan on spending at least an hour (more for high energy dogs) with your dog every day. There are a number of activities you can do with your dog that allows him to socialize, get exercise, and receive mental stimulation. Some activities include:

  • Take your dog for a walk.
  • Play a game of fetch or tug-of-war.
  • Do several training sessions each day.
  • Get involved in dog sports.
  • Take your dog to a dog park.

All of these activities will help prevent dogs from becoming bored, therefore your dog won't feel as compelled to burn off energy by digging in the yard.

Don't Allow Toys Outside

Many dogs feel compelled to bury their possessions. If you allow your dog to bring chew toys, bones, or other toys outside, he may dig in an effort to hide them. The best way to deal with this is to prevent your dog from taking these toys outdoors. Only allow toys outdoors if you're using them to engage with your dog. Things like Frisbees or balls are fine if you're playing fetch. You may also want to allow your dog to play with his toys outside if you are on hand to supervise, but he should not be allowed to have them outside otherwise.

Provide a Spot for Digging

No matter how much you work on preventing it, some dogs are just driven to dig. Certain breeds, such as Dachshunds and terriers are naturally inclined to dig, as they were bred to tunnel for prey. It can be tough to break them of this instinctive drive. You may be better off providing them an appropriate place to dig instead, such as a sand box or a spot in your yard specifically set aside for this.

To get a dog to use just one spot, you need to supervise him outside. If he digs anywhere but that spot tell him "no," and redirect him over to the correct spot. Give him lots of praise for digging in this area.

Try a Dog Sport

Dog sports are a great way for your dog to burn off physical and mental energy. This helps alleviate boredom, and also may provide an outlet for your dog's natural inclination to dig. Earth Dog is a dog sport designed specifically for breeds, such as the terriers and Dachshunds, who are bred to tunnel for prey. This sport allows dogs to scent prey through tunnels, thus allowing them to engage in their natural instincts in a more appropriate way than digging in your flower beds.

Keep an Eye on the Temperature

Some dogs only dig when the weather gets warm. They dig a hole to provide a cool spot to lie down. Be sure to provide your dog with a shady spot in the yard during the warmer months, and never leave him outside for long periods when the temperatures are high.