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How do I get my dog to stop digging?

Firstly, you need to try to work out what might be causing the digging. Could it be from any of these reasons?

  • Desire to escape? If your dog is an entire male he might want to propagate his genes.
  • Boredom? Too long alone or a yard that is small and uninteresting?
  • Loneliness? There’s no-one or nothing to interact with.
  • Lack of shelter? Could the dog be looking for a cool/warm place or somewhere out of the wind or direct sunlight?
  • Satisfaction? While some dogs were bred to dive down burrows or into piles of rock to track down furry little critters, many can also just enjoy the sensation of digging or the rewards the find!
  • Anxiety? Frantic activity like constant digging might give relief by taking the dog’s mind off the problem.

Once you have an answer (or answers) to the question of why, how can you train it?

  • Having an entire male de-sexed usually helps reduce the desire to escape.
  • For boredom, loneliness and lack of shelter use some or all of these strategies:
  • Create multiple options for your dog to rest in – cool places, warm places, places they can keep an eye on the family/back door, places they can seek privacy, etc.
  • Create some interest in the yard by including structures like ramps, platforms or tunnels.
  • Hang up some pinatas with food in them. Keep them within reach of your dog so they can bat it to get the food out.
  • Hide toys and food around the yard and teach “Find it”.
  • Before you go to work, scatter their daily meal around the yard.
  • When you get home, train some tricks. Training mentally exhausts dogs and gives them a sense of satisfaction.
  • If appropriate, install a doggie door.
  • Train your dog to trash cardboard boxes and then leave them around the yard.
  • If your dog digs only in certain spots, cover the spots with large pavers while you are putting other strategies in place.
  • Build rock piles that they can squeeze into and sand pits to dig in. Bury treats in the sand pit and under the rocks so they get rewarded for digging in those spots rather than anywhere else.
  • If your dog is digging because they are anxious or worried about being left at home, you should seek professional support. Click this link to visit our member directory to find one near you.

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