My Dog Ate My Money

How to Stop a Dog Digging Holes

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how to stop a dog diggingTo learn how to stop a dog digging holes, you will need to learn more about your dog or dogs and what drives the digging behavior.

Your dog is not digging up your yard just to annoy you. His reasons are much more self-centered than that. There may be many complex reasons behind your dog’s digging behavior, but at the center may just be that digging is fun! It’s an adrenaline rush to fling dirt, rearrange the garden, create a hole, and see what lies beneath the dirt. This makes digging a self-rewarding behavior that will continue without intervention because it makes your dog happy.

Why Do Dogs Dig?                                                      

Breed: Some breeds are bred to hunt underground animals such as badgers and rats. This is true of many terrier breeds. According to the AKC, the Scottish terrier is, “Naturally a “digger” at heart. The Scottie was originally bred to hunt and kill vermin on farms.” The Parson Russell terrier, commonly called the Jack Russell terrier, was bred to flush out foxes from underground during hunts.

If you choose to have a dog breed designed to dig, then you should recognize that your dog must dig. It’s in his genes.

Boredom: If your dog is not given enough stimulation and exercise, he will find his own entertainment. For some dogs like Newfoundlands, a walk around the block every day is enough exercise. For others, like a border collie, a jog around the city every day may not be enough exercise.

Anxiety: There may be something making your dog anxious and feel like he needs to dig his way out. That anxiety can have many sources. Something inside his yard may be scaring him. Or there may be something outside the fence that he feels he must get to.

Bugs, Bee, and Rats: Dogs can hear the life underground. Underground wasp nests, a colony of beetles, or other underground critters may be noisy and your dog may feel he must investigate.

He’s Hot: The ground beneath the surface is cool. If your dog is digging a hole perfectly sized for a nap, then your dog is looking for cooler temperatures.

Now: How to Stop a Dog Digging Holes

Understanding the reason for your dog’s digging will help guide you in stopping the behavior, or at least limiting it. More exercise, interactive toys, and training will work for mant cause of your dog’s digging.

treat ballBuy and Use Interactive Dog Toys Daily

If you don’t want your dog to spend his time digging, then you need to provide him with something else to do when you cannot be there to supervise. Interactive dog toys are designed to keep dogs interested in the toy and playing with the toy. The best busy dog toys usually involve food. Toys such as the IQ Treat Ball can hold your dog’s meal or treats and your dog must roll the ball around just right to get the food to come out. Since only a few pieces of food drop out at a time, it can take some dogs awhile to get all the food out. If your dog likes to carry around soft plush toys, make sure he has a ready supply. It’s hard to dig while keeping a stuffed squirrel in your mouth.

To keep your dog interested and busy with toys, have an assortment hidden from your dog and change the toy choices every few days.

Get Some Exercise

Your dog’s excessive digging could be a sign that you are not getting enough exercise. Take your dog for walks and jogs and he’ll have less energy to spent digging.

Let Him Dig

Stopping the digging behavior may be impossible, and could even cause your dog anxiety especially if he is a breed that is bred to dig. Designate an area where it’s OK for your dog to dig, such as a kids sandbox. Put loose soil or sand in that area and train him to dig there.

You can do this by burying treats in that spot and rewarding him with treats and praise in the sandbox. When you find him digging elsewhere, move him to the approved digging spot and reward at the sandbox. If you are not successful retraining your dog’s digging, hire a private dog trainer that can come to your house and teach you the dog training skills you need.

dog anxiety bookReduce Your Dog’s Anxiety

If something is bothering your dog, then you may need to spend some time watching your dog’s digging behavior to determine if it happens at a certain time and/or if it’s the result of activity in your yard or on the other side of the fence.  For some dogs, cutting a hole in the fence at eye level as a window will reduce their anxiety about what’s outside the fence. For other dogs, blocking their view completely will reduce anxiety. If the cause is anxiety, a private dog trainer will be most helpful in resolving your dog’s worries.

What to Do About Bugs and Bees

If your dog is digging because of noises underground, then you may have some challenges with stopping your dog’s digging. You can’t eliminate all bugs and critters from the yard, and you shouldn’t as many are beneficial. The use of pesticides could be toxic to all your pets and children. But you can take it as a warning that you have a rat or wasp problem that does need attention. Giving your dog other activities, such as toys and exercise, is the best solution to distracting from life underground.

Watch the Temperatures

Give him access to air conditioning, shade, and lots of water to help him stay cool. You can also freeze water in milk jugs to leave out for him to lie next to. Or give him his own doggie pool to cool off in.

stop dog diggingPrevent Your Dog From Digging

If your dog digs in the same spot, then you can prevent the digging. Put large rocks, a fence, or plastic mesh, such as Play Safe No Dig Guard, to block the area your dog tends to dig. Another trick that works for many dogs is to place his dog poop into the holes. Most dogs do not want to dig up their own poop. You may only need to keep the obstacle in place temporarily while you work on training and distracting your dog. In time, the habit may be broken and he will not return to his digging habit even without fences and other obstacles.

stop-dogs-digging-under-fencePrevent Dogs Digging Under the Fence with Hot Wire

If your dog is the neighborhood escape artist, then you may have to invest in hot wire for your fence to keep him away. This can easily be set up in a couple of hours for the average size backyard and don’t take any special skills to set up. Once “hot,” or turned on, the wire has electricity running through it, that will send out a jolt to any pet or human that touches it. This doesn’t cause harm, but will make your dog hesitant to get too close to the fence again.

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*Top photo by Dawn Huczek, Flickr

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