Behaviors that are natural for dogs to do are the most difficult to eliminate.
It is almost impossible to train a dog away from a natural or instinctive
Dogs dig for many reasons:
- To bury something
- To get to an inanimate object that is buried (root, rock,
piece of plastic or metal, something they previously buried, etc)
- To get to a small burrowing creature such as a chipmunk,
mouse or mole
- To expose cool soil to lay on
- To make a sleeping area
- To escape
Puppies are the most persistent diggers. They are the
ones who dig to explore their relatively new world. They want to learn
about that world, so they dig!
The most effective control for digging is management.
Management means close supervision of the dog when they are in likely digging
areas. If a dog is left in a yard to "be", they WILL be a dog and do dog
things, like dig! So, if your yard looks like the moon with craters all
over, that is not your dog's fault - it is yours!
Here are some methods, besides management & supervision, which
you can try:
- Put dog poop in the holes your dog has dug. Because
most dogs don't like poop on their paws, this usually will keep your dog from
going back to the same holes - but it will not discourage him from digging new
- Sprinkle any number of dog deterrents available on the
market into the already dug holes. These may or may not work. They
must be reapplied after each time it rains.
- Sprinkle something the dog does not like the taste or smell
of into the already dug holes, like original Listerene mouth wash (or even the
generic), alum (it is a spice used in pickling), or super hot sauce (but some
dogs enjoy its flavor!). These must be reapplied after each time it
- Bury, just below the surface of a hole, a small piece of
wire mesh. When the dog digs, he will scrape his paws on the mesh.
This is a method that requires supervision, because the object is NOT to hurt
your dog, but to catch him and re-direct him away from the hole.
- An old wives' tale says to fill the hole with water and put
the dog's head into it -- THIS DOES NOT WORK!!!!!!!!!!! DO NOT
DO THIS!!!!! THIS IS CRUEL!!!
Please notice each of these methods can only be done with
existing holes - it doesn't help to prevent new holes from being dug! The
only method of the above that I have used is the poop method, because all the
other methods require just as much supervision and effort as I would use for the
digging itself, and I am not "into" hurting my dog!
Terriers are notorious diggers. Well, imagine that!
"Terra" means "earth"! Terriers are BRED to dig! They are varmint
dogs! If you have a terrier, you will not have a decent yard unless you
Beagles are also notorious diggers. They also hunt
animals that have burrows in the ground - rabbits! Again, you must closely
supervise this breed!
If you want to have a dog AND a yard, you must use your human
brain to come up with solutions to keep your dog from digging. Besides
strict supervision, which is my method of choice, here are a few other
- Make a "free-digging zone" for your dog - a veritable
doggie sandbox, if you will! Encourage digging in that area. Hide
treats just under the surface of the dirt or sand. Create fun digging
projects for your dog in that area alone.
- Provide plenty of durable outside toys and "projects" for
your dog, so he can be kept busy doing other things besides digging.
- Erect garden fencing to keep your dog out of the perennial
or vegatable garden, and teach your dog he is unwelcome in that area.
- Use any of the animal repellants on the market and apply
regularly to the perimeter of the areas you don't want the dog in. I am
not convinced those repellants work (I have tried a few, and I don't use
them), but you can give them a try!
- There are motion-detector sprinklers that can be placed in
the garden areas or wherever else you don't want your dog to go. When a
dog (or cat, deer, rabbit or child, for that matter) goes near the area, the
sensor turns on a sprinkler that sprays water to chase the culprit away.
These sprinklers may also spray when birds come, too...
- I am NOT a big fan of invisible or underground fencing, but
this is one area where electronic fencing could be used.
The moral of the story is: The most effective control
for digging is MANAGEMENT and SUPERVISION!
Pam Young, LVT
Dog Gone Good LLC
Dog Behavior Consultant
Personal Dog Trainer