How to Prevent a Dog From Digging


In this Article

  • Why Dogs Dig
  • What Not to Do

Dogs are adventurous animals but they may end up leaving holes all over your yard. It is important to understand why your dog digs so you can train them to not do that.

Why Dogs Dig

Entertainment. Dogs are playful animals, but sometimes they can get into trouble. Your dog may dig up your yard if they:

  • Are left alone for too long and get bored.
  • Need to release excess energy.
  • Saw you gardening and want to do the same.
  • Had parents who were diggers and they have adopted their behavior.
  • Just want to be playful.
  • Lack toys and are looking for a way to entertain themselves.
  • Dogs may also dig if they are searching for another animal they smell (hunting; noted below)

If your dog is digging for fun, you can prevent this behavior by doing some of the following:

  • Walk your dog at least twice a day. Dogs love to exercise to get rid of excess energy.
  • Play with your dog. You can use balls or flying disks to encourage your dog to run.
  • Bring them inside. Your dog won’t dig into the floor of your house. If they cannot seem to stop digging, distract your dog by having them stay indoors for a bit.
  • Take a training class with your dog. Your dog will learn to listen to you and avoid digging.
  • Set aside a digging area for your dog.

Hunting prey. Dogs dig to catch small animals whose habitat is underneath the soil. If your yard is infested by moles or other rodents, your dog may never stop digging trying to catch one. You know that your dog is trying to dig out prey if:

  • The digging is in a specific area rather than different spots in your yard.
  • Your dog looks excited and wants to get something from a hole they just dug.
  • They focus their digging on a particular path.
  • They stick their nose into the ground as if looking for something.

If your dog is digging in search of prey, look for the burrowing animals then remove them safely from your yard. You can use repellants and humane traps to make your yard free from burrowing animals. When fencing out rodents, don’t use poisonous products as they may harm your dog as well.

Comfort and protection. During hot weather, your dog may dig holes and lie in cool soil. Dogs may also dig and shield themselves against cold, wind, or rain. You will notice your dog digging for protection if:

  • Your dog lies in the holes.
  • You fail to provide shelter for your dog.
  • Your dog’s shelter is too hot or cold.
  • The holes are close to buildings, large trees, or a water source.

To stop your dog digging for comfort:

  • Provide your dog with a safe shelter that doesn’t get too hot or too cold. 
  • Make sure your dog is only outside during nice weather.
  • For a dedicated digger, set aside a digging zone. You can use treats to direct it to a specific space and avoid digging up your entire yard.
  • Make sure your dog has plenty of water to avoid them digging for a water source.

Seeking attention. Many dogs are attention seekers. Your dog may dig up your yard if they need your attention. If you don’t spend much time with your dog, they may end up digging your yard to make you spend time with them.

To minimize attention-seeking behavior, spend time with your dog. Give the dog treats when you train with them. This will train your dog to avoid digging to spend time with you.

To escape. Some dogs may be trying to escape to search for a mate or freedom. If your dog is digging up a hole along the fence, it could be that they want to escape.

To stop your dog from digging to escape:

  • Put large rocks that are partially buried under the fence line.
  • Bury the bottom of your fence one or two feet beneath the soil.
  • Reward your dog for good behavior to minimize attempts at escape.
  • Bury chicken wire at the bottom line of your fence. As you do this, roll the sharp edges to face away from your yard.

What Not to Do

Do not beat up your dog for digging. Instead, try to think of other ways to stop your dog from digging, such as rewarding your dog with treats for good behavior. Some dogs may have digging habits that eventually ruin your yard. Punishing your dog may only worsen the behavior. 

If you have difficulty finding the cause of the digging or you believe it may be behavioral/anxiety-related. Consult your veterinarian and/or a veterinary behaviorist about what may be behind the behavior.

Show Sources


American Kennel Club: “Why Do Dogs Dig?”

Best Friends Animal Society: “How to Get a Dog to Stop Digging.”

City of Ipswich: “Stop Digging Under Fence.”

The Humane Society of the United States: “How to get your dog to stop digging.”

Michelson Found Animals: “How Do I Keep My Dog From Digging?”

RSPCA knowledge base: “My dog is digging up the garden, what should I do?”

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