Do you have a dog you swear is part gopher? Maybe you have a beautiful yard, and your dog is determined to dig to the center of the earth. Perhaps you’ve even encouraged the digging at first and now you don’t know how to curtail the activity? Or maybe you think your dog enjoys digging holes just to laugh at your expression. Why do dogs dig with such excitement and how can we protect our yards? Today, let’s put on our boots and find some great and easy dog yard digging solutions.
Budget tip: I have to admit, I think it's kind of funny to watch Henry dig like a mad gopher. But I know there could be a day, I may need to curtail his need for digging. I know his digging is mostly done from a play standpoint. So, I'll do what I can to replace his play digging or find a new spot for him to dig. Once you know how to deal with a digging dog, the solutions can be easy enough and definitely not a budget buster.
Why is my dog digging holes in my yard?
Like with anything in life, I think it’s always good to find the source of what’s causing an issue. Rather than slap a band-aid on it and hope for the best. I recommend observing your dog to discover which reason is the most likely for digging. You may need to do this without your dog’s knowledge. So, this could be through a window or with a security camera.
However, keep in mind there are typically a few reasons a dog will dig. These include:
This will generally result in digging at the edge of the yard, next to your fence. Your dog is curious about what’s beyond the fence or yard.
This type of digging is especially indicative of certain dog breeds such as labradors, retrievers, beagles, and hounds. Often there is one big hole and several smaller ones in close proximity. This type of digging dog is after rodents or small game.
These types of digging dogs will find places to dig holes near foundations, under decks, or in shady areas of your yard. These holes are indicative of your dog seeking a cool or comfortable place to rest.
4. Learned behavior
A dog who has seen you or someone digging in the yard or witnessed another dog digging may start digging as well. This is the monkey see, monkey do type of digging dog.
5. Bored or burning energy
Some dogs use digging as an activity. This is especially true for certain dog breeds and for those dogs that don’t like to play with toys. Henry falls into that second category.
NOTE: By supervising your dog in your yard you’ll be able to tell if your dog is bored, curious, hunting, comfort digging, or doing some other type of behavior in digging. Or even a combination of these behaviors.
How do I get my dog to stop digging in my yard?
Once you’ve discovered why your dog is digging, then you can use a few tricks to deter your dog from being a gopher.
Although these tips will vary a bit depending on whether you want to contain your dog’s digging to one area or restrict your dog from digging altogether.
1. Digging zone
This is a fun one, which assumes that your dog will be allowed to dig in some designated area of your yard. The idea is to train your dog to only dig in the area you have set up for digging.
When you’re dog is not around (maybe in the house) bury toys or treats in the desired digging area 2-3″ below the surface. Then when you see your dog dig up the treasures, praise your dog for a job well done.
Or you could even create a “digging pit” much like a sandbox and encourage your dog to dig in that area by burry favorite dog toys.
I’ve done this one with Henry and he absolutely loved it! Although, it took him by surprise at first. I placed treats inside plastic Easter eggs and let him find the eggs. Of course, I helped him open the eggs and he retrieved the treats. I have to admit the hole he dug in that spot after that experiment was HUGE!
2. Large flat rocks or pavers
If your dog has a tendency of digging in areas you don’t want, then try placing large rocks or pavers over the area. It won’t be easy for your dog to dig in that spot and he or she should move away from that area for digging.
3. Shady and comfort zones
If your dog is digging out of comfort, then simply make sure your dog has cool shady spots in your yard. You can place a hammock, chair, or bench over a dirt or grass area. Don’t forget to always provide cool water as well for your dog, especially when it’s hot outside. These two simple acts should greatly reduce your dog’s need to comfort dig.
A bored dog will be much more likely to seek ways to entertain him or herself. Remember if you don’t have time to properly exercise your dog, then consider asking a friend, calling a dog walker, or even taking your dog to doggie daycare. A happy, well-exercised, and tired dog is a dog less likely to dig up your yard and flowers.
Additionally, you can also try providing your dog with mental stimulation toys or games.
5. Deterrent spray
Sometimes you may need to up your anti-digging game. For instance, if you have certain areas in your yard, that you simply can’t seem to keep your dog away from digging and you’ve tried fencing them off, rocks, exercise, and providing other areas to dig, then you may need a deterrent spray. There are a few on the market. Or you can make your own. The benefit of making your own is if you know exactly what’s in it and you can easily tweak the recipe as you see fit for your dog.
Here’s a recipe that my friends have used as a dog deterrent without hurting plants. While it can be used for keeping dogs from peeing in your yard, it basically deters dogs from any areas it’s sprayed. Thus, it’s perfect for digging applications as well.
6. Professional advice
If you simply can’t seem to convince your dog to stop digging up your yard, and you’ve tried everything discussed here (and maybe a few others), then consult your dog trainer for a bit of dog training on digging. Or call an animal behaviorist for additional advice with the digging behavior. There could be something going on with your dog that they will be able to easily detect, including frustration with something in your household, separation anxiety, or even dog aggression.
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Summary of easy dog yard digging solutions
I realize if you have a prized backyard, your dog digging in it is probably not the best idea. However, if you can get to the reason for that digging and provide an alternative that will solve the need to dig, then it’s a good thing for you and your dog. Such as a digging zone or comfort area for your dog.