How to Stop Your Dog from Digging Holes

Reviewed By Kim •  Updated: 11/05/20 •  9 min read
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Does your dog have an ongoing excavation project going on in your yard? You might think so when surveying your pock-marked yard that’s full of holes! Does your pup seem to have an obsession with digging? Is he digging under the fence to try an escape? Why does your dog love to dig? If you’ve asked any of these questions, you’re in the right place. We’ll take a look at why dogs dig and what you can do to solve this destructive behavior.

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Why Do Dogs Dig?

Most dogs will occasionally dig, but there are some dogs that seem obsessed with digging. What causes this behavior? Let’s take a look at some of the possibilities:

1). Boredom: if a dog is bored, he’ll sometimes take care of that by providing his own “entertainment.” Dogs often turn to destructive behaviors such as shredding your possessions, clawing and digging at flooring, etc. Digging can also extend to the yard. It’s a bit like playing an easy game on your cell phone, when you’re bored. Your dog obviously doesn’t use a cell phone, but he has paws and claws he can use to create lovely holes in the lawn!

2). Too much energy: some dogs have excess energy and need a way to get rid of it. Digging uses up a lot of that energy. Your dog maybe even be energetic enough to dig up the entire garden, the yard and/or dig very deep holes. His excavation project helps him to sleep better at night by using up excess energy.

3). Loneliness: separation anxiety can drive a dog to destructive behaviors, including digging. This is especially true if your dog is out in the yard alone for long periods. This also ties in with boredom. A lonely dog that’s bored will do anything to get rid of his anxiety. Digging holes and chewing sticks is a wonderful distraction.

4). Breaking out: some dogs don’t like being in a fenced yard. They may do anything and everything to try an escape, including digging under the fence. Again, this can also tie in with a lonely, bored dog with nothing better to do. Your dog may want to join his friends who are out running free. Who wouldn’t want to join their buddies on a good romp around the neighborhood?

5). Looking for critters: another fun occupation that can lead a dog to digging is hunting for critters. Do you have rabbits, moles, or other critters roaming under and in your yard? These could be the draw for your dog and he’s digging holes to hunt down the little critters trespassing in his space!

6). Looking for attention: perhaps your fur baby is only looking for attention. What do you do when you see him digging to the other side of the planet in your back yard? Do you holler and run out to stop him? This could be the reason he’s digging—he’s getting your attention. Even if you’re mad at your dog, the attention he gets is what he may crave. He could be telling you he needs and wants to spend more time with you.

7). Digging dog breeds: some breeds are more prone to digging. These include terriers of all kinds what are often used for hunting dogs. They instinctively hunt for small animals such as rodents, rabbits, etc. Perhaps your dog is only following his natural inclination—it’s in his genes.

8). To stay cool or warm: perhaps your pup’s digging to try to stay warm or cool, depending on outside temperatures. Holes can also offer some protection from wind, rain, etc. This may be the case if you notice your dog digging holes near your home’s foundation, he’s lying in the holes he creates, or he doesn’t have a protective shelter when outdoors. Or perhaps he’s building a pool!

The reasons your fur baby has an ongoing excavation project can be varied, with some reasons even overlapping.

It can be difficult to figure out exactly why your dog’s digging, but there are some things you can do to curb this behavior

How to Stop a Dog from Digging Up the Yard

So, how do you keep your precious canine from mining the back yard? We’ve done some research. Here are some suggestions we found:

Don’t leave your pup outside alone: leaving your dog out, alone and unsupervised, for long periods can lead to boredom, separation anxiety, etc. He may choose to relieve these issues by digging up the yard or even digging in the trash. A dog can easily dig up the entire yard (depending on the yard’s size) while you’re at work. Rather than leaving him out all day you might consider taking him to doggie daycare, hiring a pet sitter to check on him during the day, etc.

Spend time with your pup: be sure to spend plenty of time with your canine companion. Your dog will be grateful to the moon and back. Not only that, but you could also be relieving the loneliness and boredom that could be causing him to dig excessively. Consider taking your dog along on errands, play with him outside, take him on hikes and other types of outings. He’ll love you for it and he may even stop digging up the yard and the garden.

Exercise: for a dog with too much energy, be sure he gets plenty of exercise. A dog that uses up his energy to run and play won’t have enough left to dig up the yard. Your dog may need a couple of short walks a day, or maybe he needs one long walk to help wear him out. Find what works best and then stay on a schedule to make sure he’s regularly using up excess energy. Not only will he get the exercise he needs and be in great shape, you’ll also help his relieve boredom and loneliness.

Stop wildlife in the backyard: if your dog’s digging to get at critters in the yard, it may be necessary to make sure your yard’s not inviting to these animals. Before we go further, it’s not a good idea to use pest control measures in the space your dog enjoys being outside. He could accidently get into the poison or even eat it. So, be sure to avoid using pet control products. Instead, keep bushes and grass trimmed, avoid leaving water standing that invites critters for a drink. Also don’t feed your pup in the yard, as his food could become attractive for wild critters. Also keep the yard clutter and trash-free.

Keep your yard cleaned up and it will become less inviting for little critters that may be causing your fur baby to dig

Provide shelter: if your dog’s digging to create a protective shelter for himself, then providing him with a shelter and shady areas could help curb his digging. You might consider adding an awning to the patio, purchasing a dog house that stays cool in summer and warm in winter, a blanket in the shelter when it’s cold out, etc.

If you’ve done all this and your dog’s still digging, what can you do? Read on!

Stop Digging Dog

Digging can be a difficult behavior to stop in your fur baby. It causes damage to your yard and property, and it can seem like nothing works to stop your canine friend from his ongoing excavation project. What else can you do to stop your dog’s digging? Here are some suggestions that have worked for other people.

Stop dog from digging under fence: if you have a dog who likes to attempt escapes, or even if he does escape, there are some things you can do. First, try putting large rocks in the holes and then burying them along the bottom of the fence. You can also try burying chicken wire at the base of the fence, or bury the fence itself about 1-2 feet below the surface. Another option is to anchor the fencing to the ground.

Try a dog digging repellent: some people swear by dog repellents as a cure for a digging dog. You can buy ready-made dog repellents. Here are some to consider:

Create a digging zone: another option is to give your dog a part of the yard to call his own, where he can dig to his heart’s content. Consider covering the area with loose dirt or sand—something that’s enticing to dig in. Another option is using a kid’s sandbox as your dog’s digging area. When he digs in his own area, be sure to reward him with lots of praise and a treat or two. If he digs in another spot that’s not in his digging zone, then use repellents and other methods to discourage him from digging.

Digging dogs can be a huge problem, but with some effort on your part it may be possible to learn why your fur baby’s digging up the yard. We hope this article has given you some ideas on how to keep your pup from totally excavating your yard!

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Kim is a talented author, who loves animals especially dogs. She engaged in writing books and articles relating to animals a decade ago. Kim resides in Chicago with her husband and son. The family is the proud owner of a dog and a parrot (Jack and Lily). Kim wanted more than these two pets, but her husband put his foot down... She often visits elementary schools to talk to the kids about what she learned about pets and how they could learn from them.

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