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.
If your dog has developed a habit for certain areas and keeps digging in the same place, you can take steps to discourage re-digging in familiar haunts. The simplest solution is to fence off those digging spots using a sturdy, flexible barrier.
Many dog owners bury strong-smelling or uncomfortable-feeling deterrents in digging areas and report success.
- Partially bury rocks (flat ones in particular) in noted digging spots.
- Bury plastic chicken wire or netting just under the surface. (Metal may hurt a dog’s paws.)
- Citrus peels, 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.
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.
Puppies are particularly prone to this type of behavior, but as the Humane Society points out, digging is pretty common if dogs feel under-exercised. If they can’t leave the backyard horizontally, why not vertically?
Take action: spend more time with your dog. Running, swimming, fetch, 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 Rover to find the perfect dog walker.
Dogs dig out of instinct, but also for something to do. One great alternative to digging is giving them some fun dog diversions where they can channel that energy. This may mean assembling an assortment of toys and keeping them rotated for the novelty factor.
- Get some classics: tennis balls, plushies, rope toys.
- Treat-dispensing dog toys make them problem solve for a reward!
- Dental chews and various chew options will give them long stretches of activity that actually benefit teeth and gums.
- Sandbox: 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. This can be a freestanding box or simply a designated pit area in the corner of the yard. Spend training time to make sure your dog understands to dig there, but not elsewhere.
Is your dog the only one making disturbances in the turf? It could be that 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! During hot weather, dogs may dig to create a cool space to relax.
Take action: plan your yard to ensure it includes a safe, shady space for cooling off. You can use a simple tarp stretched between trees, but if you don’t have something handy for hanging a sun shade on, try a freestanding popup option.
For more great ideas, check out these posts on dogs and outdoor spaces.
- 9 Ways to Transform your Backyard into a Dog’s Summer Paradise
- 10 Safe Plants You Can Add to Almost Any Garden Right Now
- How to Landscape a Dog-Friendly Garden from Sunset