How to Stop Your Dog from Digging

Did you come home to find holes, damaged turf, and a destroyed garden? If so, you can blame it on your dog! Chances are you are feeling upset, angry, and surprised your dog has the ability to cause so much destruction.

The most shocking part is how excited and happy your dog seems after digging the holes.

You need to focus on how to stop your dog from digging and figure out the cause.

Dogs dig holes for a variety of reasons such as chasing prey, attempting to escape the yard, attention, entertainment, or protection. Dogs are den animals, if they feel afraid while they are alone in the yard, they will attempt to create a den by digging a hole large enough to allow them to hide.

Getting to the root cause of the problem will take some investigating on your part or simply the task of observing your dog’s behavior is helpful. Placing a video camera outside so you can see what triggers your dog to dig holes is an excellent way to solve the problem quickly.

Are you ready to find out why your dog digs holes and what you can do to prevent it from happening? Keep reading to discover helpful tips.

What Does it Mean When a Dog Digs?

mean dos digsThere is always a reason a dog digs holes but it might surprise you. Some dogs do it because they are not getting enough minerals in their diet while other dogs are bored and just dig holes.

Whatever the reason, a dog digs holes on purpose and it’s up to you as a pet parent to determine the cause and attempt to stop the behavior.

Why is My Dog Digging Holes All of a Sudden?

If your dog is a first-time digger after years of never exhibiting this behavior, you can be sure they are experiencing some type of issue that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible.

Do Dogs Grow Out of Digging?

Some dogs will naturally grow out of digging as they get older while others will continue the behavior unless you curb their habit. Terriers and other dog breeds have a natural instinct and were bred specifically to dig which can make stopping the behavior more difficult compared to other breeds.

Steps to Prevent Digging

Since your dog is digging for a particular reason, it’s best to apply specific techniques to solve the problem such as the tips mentioned below.


scappingWhen dogs escape they are either trying to go see something or get away from something.

If your dog digs holes to escape, try these helpful tips:

  • Place large rocks along the fence line covering the bottom
  • Invest in a fence that can be buried about two feet below the surface
  • Use chicken wire at the base of the fence
  • Eliminate the object or thing your dog is trying to run away from in the yard or remove the distraction on the outside of the fence that makes your dog want to escape.


attentionDogs love attention and they consider positive or negative attention to be equally the same. Once a dog finds out digging holes in the yard makes their owner pay attention to them, they will continue the behavior.

If your dog digs holes to get your attention, try these helpful tips:

  • Spend more time with your dog by taking walks and playing fetch
  • Praise your dog for their good behavior
  • Ignore your dog when they dig holes

Protection and Comfort

protectionDogs that spend a lot of time outdoors on warm or hot days often dig holes to cool themselves down. They also dig holes to protect themselves from other elements such as rain, wind, sprinkler systems, and predators.

If your dog is digging holes because it is seeking protection and comfort, try these helpful tips:

  • Invest in a dog house that provides protection from the elements
  • Remove the predator from the scenario


bored dogDogs become bored when they are alone in the yard and don’t have an outlet to play such as toys. Some dogs will dig holes to keep them busy and entertained until their owner comes home.

If your dog is digging holes for entertainment purposes, try these helpful tips:

Hunting Prey

Shuntingome dog breeds are natural born hunters such as the Beagle, Pit Bull Terrier, Bloodhound, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, and English Setter. These dog breeds also make excellent family pets.

If your dog is a natural-born hunter, try these helpful tips:

  • Find out if you have any animals in your yard that are burrowing animals then humanely remove them from your property
  • Distract your dog with toys to help keep their mind stimulated

Create a Designated Digging Area

digging areaSome dogs won’t stop digging no matter what you do. These special dogs are often bred to hunt prey and have a natural instinct to dig. Other dogs simply refuse to give up their favorite activity. If your dog refuses to stop digging, it’s time to create a designated digging area so they can go wild without destroying your entire yard.

Think of a designating digging area for your dog as a sandbox for children. Once you understand the concept it’s easy to create using a variety of materials or tools.

Step 1 – Find the Right Spot in Your Yard

Establish an area for your dog to dig that is off to the side and can’t easily be seen from your windows. Most homes have glass doors that provide a view of the yard and the last thing you want to see is your dog’s dig pit. Choosing an area in the corner of the yard or along the sides is recommended.

Step 2 – Create a Frame

Use wood, bricks, or other sturdy materials to create a barrier that is easy for your dog to step into. Since dogs come in all sizes, you must customize the size of the sandbox to your dog. The frame needs to be able to hold dirt inside without it spilling over the edges.

Step 3 – Add Dirt

The garden shop has plenty of dirt that will fill the sandbox. Make sure you fill it to 1” inch below the rim of the frame to ensure there’s plenty for your dog to dig.

Step 4 – Train Your Dog to Use the Designated Digging Area

Just because you created a digging area, it doesn’t mean your dog will give up the rest of the yard so easily. You need to train your dog to only dig in the sandbox by inviting them over to it and showing them how it’s done. Many dogs will follow their owner’s example and dig in the area habitually.

Step 5 – Add a Treasure

Most dogs will be excited to find something as they dig in their sandbox. You can make things more interesting for them by burying a few bones or toys for them to find. Keep in mind that if you do this step, you need to continue burying things in the sandbox long term which can become a daily chore. Once your dog understands they can find treasures in the dirt, they will always expect to find more.

Step 6 – Keep it Clean

It sounds unusual to keep a sandbox clean but it’s essential to your dog’s health. Some weather conditions such as excessive rain can create a muddy mess in the sandbox.

Also, other nearby animals such as squirrels can use the sandbox to hide their food. Invest in a good rake and remove any unusual objects from the box. Also, make sure weeds don’t grow in the box because some can be toxic to dogs and lead to illness or death.

Step 7 – Let Your Dog Go Wild

As long as your dog is digging in their designated area, allow them to go wild and dig until they stop on their own.

Bottom Line

Taking action as quickly as possible to stop your dog from digging is essential to curbing unwanted behavior. Pinpointing your dog’s triggers that encourage them to dig is a great place to start the process.

Pay careful attention to your dog’s behavior right before they start digging. What’s around them? Are they chasing a rodent? Are they bored? Answering these questions will help you find the cause of the digging and allow you to focus your efforts on that specific problem.

For example, if boredom is causing the digging, plenty of fun or interactive toys will stimulate their mind and lessen their boredom. You have the power to stop this behavior when you use the tips mentioned above and put them into action.

Dr Sarah Robinson attended veterinary school at Oklahoma State University receiving a D.V.M. in 2008. Sarah’s longtime interest is to help people to better communicate with their pet companions, and in doing so, to help them to strengthen their relationships with their dogs and cats. Sarah has published numerous articles on canine feeding in pet related magazines, veterinary journals and leading natural health web sites.

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