Your once-gorgeous lawn, garden, or fence-line now looks like a mini war zone, pockmarked with holes, savaged turf, and devastated vegetables. You know who’s to blame: your dog! Why does your dog keep digging up the yard? What can you do about it? Here are our top seven solutions to help stop your dog’s digging behavior:
- More playtime and exercise
- More toys and chews
- Maintain an area for acceptable digging
- Discourage digging in unwanted areas
- Add digging deterrents
- Get rid of rodents
- Help your dog cool down
We’ll dig into the details below.
Your Dog Won’t Stop Digging? Walk It Off…
Some breeds may need more attention and exercise than others, but the first cause of unwanted digging is probably boredom and lack of exercise. Those furry bodies and happy-go-lucky minds crave activity! If those paws don’t get in a good run, the undisturbed earth begins to look like a way to work off that energy. If you’re they’re alone for long periods, their minds look for something creative to occupy their time. They might even be imitating your behavior if they’ve seen you working or digging in the yard.
Puppies are particularly prone to this type of behavior, but as the Humane Society points out, digging is pretty common if dogs feel neglected, bored, or under-exercised. If they can’t leave the backyard horizontally, why not vertically?
Take action: spend more time with your dog. Running, swimming, fetch, frisbee and other activities help work off nervous energy. Schedule more walks to get them out of the yard and exploring the world. If life simply doesn’t allow for more walks, use our network to find the perfect dog walker!
Distraction Trumps Destruction
Dogs are looking for a creative outlet. The way they dig up the yard might look like destruction to you, but for them it may be an attempt at redecorating. One great alternative is giving them some fun dog diversions where they can channel that energy. This may mean assembling an assortment of toys:
- Get some classics: balls, sticks, rope toys.
- Treat-dispensing dog toys make them problem solve for a reward! Amazon features quite an assortment.
- Dental chews and various bone options will give them long stretches of activity that actually benefit teeth and gums.
- Rotation: don’t toss them all in an accessible spot in the yard! Cesar’s Way notes they’ll grow bored of the same toy, so an assortment that rotates is a great way to make each backyard stretch unique.
Can You Dig It?
Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. Consider creating a space that’s intentionally designed for your dog to scratch that itch. As mentioned in our post on dog-friendly gardening, a dog sandbox may be the best ticket to satiate that dirt-digging need. Pinterest has some great ideas to get you started.
Neither Here Nor There
There’s an old adage: a dog returns to its vomit. If your canine companion has developed a habit for certain areas and keeps digging up the yard in the same place, you can take steps to discourage re-digging in familiar haunts or unwanted areas. Some sites note that their poop may serve as discouragement for some dogs. Orange and lemon rinds may also be buried in those areas to make digging there a turnoff.
Entry Denied: Scratch and Sniff
Digging up the yard isn’t just about saving the grass: many times it’s a fence issue that might compromise egress options, or ruin your garden. In addition to poop and citrus, there are safe additives to frustrate the behavior of your digging dog, making it less pleasurable for them.
- Partially bury rocks (flat ones in particular) in noted digging spots.
- Bury chicken wire or chain link just under the surface.
- Coffee grounds, cayenne, or vinegar may wrinkle that nose.
- If you have a sprinkler system, a motion sensor method can be a good deterrent.
- Rose bushes and thorny shrubs may serve as border plants for areas of concern.
Prey for Change
Is your dog the only one making disturbances in the turf? It could a gopher, squirrels, rats or other prey animals are leaving trails, smells and more to rile up your buddy and get them scratching at the fence line or tearing up the terra firma. One sign might be if they are digging near trees or plants.
Take action: look for signs of invasive rodents or burrowing animals. Call an exterminator as needed or use safe and humane methods to keep wild animals out.
Your dog’s predilection for digging could be an overheating issue! Pets WebMD points out that dogs may dig down below a warm surface to create a cool space to relax. It could even be the opposite on a cold day.
Take action: plan your yard to insure it includes a safe, shady space for cooling off or a dog house if they’re outdoors when it’s cold.