If your dog just started digging holes all over the yard, you are probably wondering: why the sudden change of behavior? Digging and burrowing can create a big mess in your lawns and yard. In order to stop a dog from digging, it’s helpful to know why they’re exhibiting this behavior.
Why is My Dog Digging a Hole?
Reasons, why could be creating a hole-y mess in your yard, could be:
When we’re bored, we may do a useless task with no goal in mind, such as lazily and endlessly scrolling through social media outlets or playing a mindless game on our phones.
Dogs, however, don’t have the luxury of owning these accessories. Although frustrating to us, digging is a common source of entertainment for canines.
Because they’re social animals, dogs thrive when interacting with others, especially you. If you leave your dog outside alone for long periods of time, chances are they’re going to express their boredom and loneliness by digging. When a dog digs due to separation anxiety, you’ll have to deal with that issue because it won’t fix itself!
Dogs are intelligent animals and many were bred to perform specific tasks. If they aren’t properly and routinely exercised mentally and physically, they will find other ways to exert this energy.
Certain breeds are even bred to dig or burrow, such as terriers, dachshunds, and other vermin-hunting canines. If your dog has this lineage, they’re more likely to be diggers. However, it doesn’t mean they can’t be trained to stop this behavior. Puppies, due to their age, are more likely to dig as well.
Your dog could actually be inadvertently alerting you to animals burrowing underneath the ground. While these are likely to be harmless critters, such as rabbits, your dog will stay hot on their trail!
Their burrowing, depending on expanse and location, could put your house’s foundation in jeopardy. If you suspect or find proof that this is why your dog is digging, call animal control.
Attempting to Escape
If you have neighbors close-by who also have pets, it could be that your dog is digging in order to chase them (especially if it’s a cat) or to play with them (such as another dog). No picket fences or chain-link fencing is going to keep a bored and frustrated dog in your yard!
It’s Hot or Cold
Dogs should never be kept outdoors during hot weather or extreme temperatures. It can damage their health as well as cause hyperthermia or heat stroke, both of which can be fatal.
A cold canine may attempt to find warmth by burrowing into the dirt or getting shelter from a frigid breeze. Likewise, a hot, panting dog, will dig to find cool earth.
How to Stop a Dog from Digging
Since it’s likely your dog is consistently digging due to boredom or loneliness, the best thing you can do to stop their digging is to improve their quality of life. Dogs are naturally happy animals and so this is a relatively easy task; all it asks of you is your time. Correcting a dog’s behavior is easy once you figure out the triggers!
1. Spend Quality Time with Your Dog
How to stop a dog from digging starts with attention! Dog’s love attention! To relieve loneliness, and therefore, put a stop to the hole digging, try to spend as much time with your dog as possible and make sure they get enough attention.
This could even mean just bringing them along with you when you run errands, like dropping off mail, or picking up dinner somewhere to-go. They’ll appreciate a break from seeing the same old scenery and you’ll have company to enjoy your otherwise boring drive with.
On weekends, try to plan at least one outdoor activity, such as a hike or a trip to the park. In either regard, your dog is getting to spend time with you while you enjoy some exploration.
If you have a puppy or generally high-energy dog, then exercise is key in getting rid of all their pent-up up energy. The same energy they’re currently using to dig up your flower garden! Not many would say their ideal pet would dig craters in their backyard, which is why it’s important for us to do everything we can to help our dog be the best “good dogs” they can be.
However, between work, school or taking care of family, we sometimes don’t prioritize our time to include exercise. The good news is that regular exercise means something different to everyone and can work for any lifestyle, no matter how busy people get.
A fun game of fetch in the backyard, an hour-long walk around the neighborhood, or a quick 15-minute jog around the local track are all good examples of exercise you can daily with your dog.
Whatever exercise is to you, your dog will appreciate you for it doing it with them. What’s more is a lot of behavioral issues (excessive barking, jumping on people, chewing up household items, and digging holes in the yard) are only present because the dog has nowhere else to spend their energy.
If you prioritize exercise for you and your dog, you’ll not only both lead healthier lifestyles, but you’ll slowly see any behavioral issues fade away.
How to stop a dog from digging should rather be “How to Keep a Dog too Busy to Dig!”
If your dog is spending a lot of time outside, an added step you can take to ensure they aren’t spending that time excavating your yard or trying to jump over the fence is to purchase some time-consuming, brain-teasing toys to entertain them while you’re not home. Dog owners need to remember that mental stimulation is as important as physical exercise!
There’s a huge market for these type of dog toys with plenty of products for you to choose from. Many will take advantage of a dog’s attraction to scent and taste by “hiding” yummy treats inside of the toys. This encourages dogs to them to find the treats by chewing, throwing and licking.
Some of these products are even interactive, meaning when your dog plays with it, it “plays” back by making noise or moving. Purchase a few different types and through a process of elimination, you can determine which your dog loves the most. You can also rotate their availability, so your dog doesn’t get bored of one too quickly.
4. Get Rid of Unwanted Wildlife
Of course, there’s also the chance that your dog is well-exercised and capable of entertaining themselves in other ways than digging. In this case, they’re likely digging holes because they’re hot or because there are burrowing animals in your yard.
You’ll know this is the case if your dog seems to be searching for a specific or centralized area of the yard, most typically at the root of trees or shrubbery.
Additionally, if they are following the scent or movement of animals underneath the ground, they will typically dig holes in a line or “path”. Hunting vermin is a natural instinct for many breeds!
To fix this, you can call local animal control or pest services, but ensure the companies aren’t using chemicals to get rid of the animals. Your dog could get into their poisonous, potentially harmful toxins when they go after the vermin again.
5. Create Shade
If your dog only bores holes in certain spots of the yard, perhaps along the edge of the house or the edge of a shed, it’s likely they’re attempting to cool off. These spots of the yard may have cooler soil as they’re shaded for most of the day.
Burrowing into the cool earth is comforting, especially to a dog who is panting and hot under the sun. If this is the case, you should create a cool haven for them.
This could mean installing awnings. Also look into purchasing or building a dog house that won’t feel claustrophobic and can get a breeze to keep them cool while inside it. You can put a blanket and their water bowl in the house as well for added comfort.
6. Crate Training
The most efficient, successful method of putting a stop to a digging dog? Keeping them indoors instead of out. Studies show most stolen dogs were in their yard when it occurred. This means your dog is more protected within your home. This doesn’t mean keep them indoors forever, just monitor them when they do go outside and correct bad behavior the second you see it.
Dogs are also more likely to experience potentially fatal health issues such as hypothermia and heat stroke if kept outside in extreme weather. Not only that, but they’re also more likely to contract fleas, ticks and other pests which they could then bring into your house.
If you’re worried about your dog getting into things, sitting on the furniture, or interacting negatively with another pet or housemate, then you should consider crate training.
Crate training is recommended by a majority of not just dog trainers but also veterinarians. It is the easiest and most efficient way to keep your dog happy, safe, and comfortable.
Crates can be purchased online or at any local pet supply store and come in a variety of sizes. You can place a blanket in the crate for added comfort as well as some treats and toys.
If introduced properly, your dog will view their crate as their own personal, special, safe space.
Figuring out how to stop a dog from digging isn’t rocket science. Whether a dog digs because of separation anxiety, natural instinct, boredom or the weather, you simply have to find the reasons for a dog’s behavior and correct it!