How to Stop Dogs from Digging

Updated: May 24, 2022

"A dog digging is a physical activity that stimulates your dog's mind and body"

If there is one thing every pet parent wants to know, it's how to stop a dog from digging. It can be challenging for pet parents to fully understand the behavior. For us, it means another hole in the backyard plus a dirty pup!

Why do dogs dig holes? What can you do to stop dogs from digging? Here we'll tell you why your dog digs and explain how to stop dogs from digging holes in your yard.

Why do Dogs Dig Holes?

To know how to stop a dog from digging, you first need to know: why do dogs dig holes. Your dog may be digging for many possible reasons:

Dogs Dig Holes for Fun.

Why do dogs dig? The answer might be more simple than you thought! Your dog might be digging for fun if he learns that the soil and roots can actually "playback". Causes for this type of digging can include when your furbaby:

  • Is left alone for some time without company
  • Has a relatively barren environment without toys, chews, companions, etc.
  • Does not have an outlet for him to release his energy
  • Belongs to a specific breed known to be prone to developing digging behaviors
  • Belongs to an active type of breed
  • Does not have the proper mental and physical stimulation

Digging for Anxiety Relief.

A dog digging is a physical activity that stimulates your dog's mind and body. So for some dogs, whenever they feel bored or stressed out, they result in digging. In this case, the best way how to stop dogs from digging is to address the underlying issue, their anxiety.

Dogs Dig for Attention.

Dogs can be attention-seekers, especially if you have very limited bonding time together. And if digging is the only way he'll earn your attention, then he'll keep doing it. This is especially true if your dog is not getting a lot of attention from you when outside.

Dogs Hide What's Theirs.

Dogs are territorial and what they consider theirs is only theirs alone. Because of this innate trait, your dog may feel compelled to bury his toys, chews, and even the food you gave him! It's a subtle way of saying "It's mine and you're not going to find it".

Dogs Dig for Comfort and Protection.

If your dog usually stays outside, even in warm weather, he's digging holes to be able to lie down on the cool dirt. Your dog will also probably dig whenever the weather is cold, rainy, or windy. Your dog may be seeking physical comfort if they:

  • digs near your house's wall, porch, or under the shade of a tree
  • lies down on the places he's dug
  • doesn't have shelter outside your house or his shelter seems to be uncomfortable

Digging for an Escape Plan.

If your dog is digging under your fence or along it, they might be planning an escape. Maybe because your furbaby wants to go somewhere (like follow you to work), wants to get away from something, or simply having an adventure behind the fence.

Digging to Hunt Prey.

A dog digging is a physical activity that stimulates your dog's mind and body

Your dog may dig because of his urge to catch burrowing animals or insects that are in your yard. If hunting is the reason, you'll notice that your furbaby is digging at the roots of trees or plants and is focused on a certain area. Certain breeds will have a much higher prey drive, which can increase their need to hunt.

Now that you know some reasons why dogs dig, lets look at the best ways to stop dogs from digging.

how to stop a dog from digging, how to stop dogs from digging

How to Stop Dogs from Digging

Trying to stop a dog from digging can't happen overnight and the cause of digging must be identified first to rule out the behavior. Here, we have broken down how to stop dogs from digging based on the cause. In the next section, you will find a few extra tips that can help in any situation.

For a dog who's digging out of boredom, attention, stress, and anxiety:

  • Take your dog for a walk at the park and have him socialize with other dogs (and meet new fur-iends!)
  • Exercise them daily to prevent stress buildup. There are lots of ways to exercise with your dog, from regular walks to swimming, hiking, and more.
  • Play vigorous activities like playing fetch, tug-of-war, running uphill to help drain your dog's excess energy
  • Provide mental stimulation for your dog to help meet their needs for enrichment. A Forager™ Mat is an excellent way to provide mental enrichment while they eat their meals. 
  • Sometimes we can get busy and get caught up in life! Make sure you are taking time out of your busy schedule to spend quality time together and assure they are getting the proper attention.
  • Provide him with chews that will stimulate his brain. Gnawtlers® have bone marrow that attracts dogs and keeps them wanting to chew. They are less likely to get bored of the chew and will keep him occupied. 
  • Provide calming supplements that can aid with anxiety and stress. We will get deeper into this later in the blog!

These activities will burn out your furbaby's extra energy instead of having to use it by digging in your yard.

For a dog who's digging to hide his belongings:

  • Never allow your dog to bring his toys, chews, food, etc. outside your house or into the lawn. Dogs are smart, he may try to sneak them things outside so keep an eye out for it. Only give his belongings back when he's inside the house again.

For a dog seeking comfort and protection:

  • Provide your furbaby the comfort he seeks. If your dog is outside in very warm or cold temperatures, it is your responsibility as a pet parent to provide proper, temperature-controlled shelter or bring them inside. Many dogs are not built for harsh weather and will be extremely uncomfortable in very hot or cold temperatures.

For a dog trying to escape:

  • Find out the reason why your dog is trying to escape. If your dog is a female, is she in heat? If your dog is a male, are there any female dogs in your neighborhood? Or are there any stray animals outside? Are there any threats in your house or lawn that triggered your furbaby to get stressed out and run away?
  • Provide a safe environment for your dog, that will help lessen his fears and urges to escape
  • You can also consider burying chicken wire at the base of your fence, making sure the sharp edges are faced away from your yard. This will help limit your furbaby from getting out.
  • Do not punish your dog from digging and trying to escape. Punishment will only worsen the situation and digging will even get more motivated by fear.

For a dog hunting for prey:

  • Regularly check your lawn if there are any burrowing animals or insects present, use friendly, harmless methods to transfer them or fence them out your lawn.

More things you can consider in how to stop a dog from digging:

Stop a dog from digging with supervision. Make extra efforts to supervise and keep watch of your dog whenever he's out on the lawn. When you see your dog beginning to dig, distract him by blowing a whistle, calling him out or by clapping your hands. By the time he pays attention to you, redirect him to proper behavior.

Contain and compromise digging dogs. It is quite difficult to contain what is acknowledged as an innate behavior of dogs. If digging really can't be withdrawn, then don't you think it's time to compromise? It will be easier for the both of you if you allow your furbaby to dig but only on certain areas of the yard, marked specifically for digging or a sand box. Whenever he begins to dig in the wrong areas, call his attention and lead him to the appropriate digging place. Don't forget to reward him if he does a good job following instructions.

stop dog from digging, how to keep dogs from digging

Stop dogs from digging with enrichment. Ever heard the saying, "A tired dog is a happy dog?" That goes for mental and physical exercise. In almost any situation, extra walks, mental enrichment, and play time will help prevent digging. Using a Forager™ Mat a meal time can help provide easy mental enrichment. It is estimated that 15 minutes of snuffling is equivalent to an hour of walking. So, don't miss the opportunity to provide efficient stimulation for your dog.

Provide calming supplements. Your dog's urge to dig (for whatever reason) brings them to the edge of their seat. Your dog is excited, eager, anxious, and all-willing to use all their energy in digging. To help manage this, you can provide calming supplements. Pet Parents® Calming SoftSupps® for dogs will provide your furbaby with powerful ingredients that help act as a calming aid to help prevent digging. For stressful situations that may cause anxiousness, these calming supplements for dogs can help keep furbabies calm & relaxed.

These supplements contain L-Tryptophan, an amino acid, considered as a natural anti-depressant, that produces serotonin, which is key in regulating responses to stress & anxiety. And with Organic Passion Flower that helps regulate mood and manage stress, anxiety and some forms of pain and promotes calmness to anxious behavior without resulting in sleepiness.

"Pet Parents® Calming SoftSupps® for dogs will provide your furbaby with powerful ingredients that help act as a calming aid to help prevent digging."

There are a lot of ways on how to stop a dog from digging but all these ways can't be made possible without your help. You being a paw-some pet parent to your dog will help him overcome this behavior and will help him dig his way on to a happier and healthier life.