How to Stop Your Dog from Digging in the Yard

As springtime blossoms, garden enthusiasts and lawn lovers are eagerly planning to bring their outdoor spaces to life. However, dog owners face a unique challenge: their beloved pets might see the freshly turned soil as an irresistible playground. If your dog has a penchant for digging, it can quickly turn your yard into a moonscape of holes and mounds. So, how do you keep your garden intact while also meeting your dog’s needs? Here’s a guide to help you manage your canine’s digging habits effectively.

1. Understanding the Urge to Dig

Firstly, it’s important to understand why dogs dig. Digging can be a natural behavior for many dogs driven by various instincts such as hunting, seeking comfort, or even escaping. For others, it’s simply a way to alleviate boredom. Recognizing the reason behind your dog’s digging is the first step to addressing it. Dogs left alone in the yard might dig to entertain themselves, especially younger or more active dogs who demand stimulation.

2. Companion Play and Training

Instead of leaving your dog unattended in the yard, engage with them actively. This approach not only curbs their desire to dig out of boredom but also strengthens your bond. For younger, energetic dogs, it’s crucial to provide them with attention and activities that stimulate their minds and expend their energy. Simple training exercises such as teaching them to settle by your side while you engage in outdoor activities can be very effective. This might include reading a book in your garden while your dog relaxes by your feet, secured by a leash and rewarded intermittently with treats for calm behavior.

3. Create a Dedicated Digging Spot

Rather than trying to eliminate the digging behavior entirely, consider channeling it appropriately. One practical solution is to designate a specific area for your dog to dig, such as a sandbox. You can make this spot appealing by burying treats and toys for them to discover, which turns the act of digging into a rewarding game. You could build a fancy one with lumber, moisture barriers, and sand, like a true child’s sandbox, or a more portable solution is to use a plastic kiddie-pool filled with sand. Cover them with tarps when not in use so the neighbour’s outdoor cat doesn’t turn it into a litter box. 

4. Use Physical Barriers

For some areas of your garden, especially where you might have delicate plants or flower beds, physical barriers can be very effective. Fences or decorative borders not only protect these areas but also serve as a deterrent to your pet. These don’t have to be extensive or expensive; even simple solutions like temporary netting or a low fence can provide a visual cue to your dog that the area is off-limits.

5. Alternative Digging Locations

If you’re near a location that allows dogs and is safe for digging, like certain sandy beaches or dog parks, take advantage of these spots. This not only gives your dog a change of scenery but also lets them indulge in their digging instinct without repercussions. Remember to be responsible and fill any holes to prevent accidents.

Engaging Activities in the Yard

Spending time actively with your dog in the yard can involve various activities. One great way to engage your dog is through interactive games like tug-of-war or flirt-pole chasing, which not only curb digging behaviors but also provide physical exercise.. These activities not only keep your dog’s body and mind active but also deepen the trust and connection between you.

By understanding and addressing the reasons behind your dog’s digging, providing appropriate alternatives, and engaging with them actively, you can enjoy a beautiful yard and a happy, well-behaved dog. Whether through training, designated digging spots, the key is putting in the effort and working with your dog. So this season, don’t just garden in the backyard, but engage with your dog as well.

Need 1-on-1 help with a specific issue?

We are here to support you.

Schedule a 30-minute appointment with one of our positive trainers.