How to Stop a Dog from Digging in the Yard
There are some dogs that have a propensity for digging. Terriers are notorious for this habit. It’s not because they have some serious behavioral issues, but it is more inherent in their natural hunting instincts. There are also dogs that have a knack for digging under the fence as a means to escape. Others may have issues with their nutrition that they tend to dig in an effort to find the “nutrients” they need. Female dogs may also dig as a natural part of canine mating behavior. Whatever the reason, this behavior is something that is making many pet parents anxious. So, the question remains: how to stop a dog from digging? Well, you’re in the right place. Here are some ways on how you can minimize if not put a stop to this digging behavior.
Exercise Your Pet at Least Twice a Day
One of the reasons why pet dogs dig in the yard is that they have so much energy to use. Whenever they try to dig, they are exercising their limbs. Dogs use their paws to get dirt from the ground and pull it outward. You may not realize it, but the dog is spending energy digging.
Dogs need to ambulate or walk. It is true that there are canines that don’t mind lying down all day long. However, sooner or later, these dogs will still require some form of exercise. Hence, it is important to walk your dog at least twice a day. Walk them early in the morning for about 30 minutes. Walk your pet again in the afternoon for another 30 minutes. This should help it spend its energy in a more constructive way. It will not have enough energy left to dig a hole in your backyard.
Of course, not all dogs will respond to such a technique. But in general, most dogs will stop digging if only they get enough exercise every day. And if it doesn’t stop the behavior, at least you can be sure to minimize the issue.
Running is not the only activity that you can have with your pet. Go swimming or play a game of fetch. Whatever exercise you decide to have with your pet, make sure that it is safe. On that note, walking is still one of the best and most practical ways to exercise your pet.
Provide Distraction by Giving Interactive Toys and Stimulating Activities
If you’re concerned about how to stop a dog from digging under a fence, then you may want to give your pet more stimulating activities. Exercise often addresses the physical needs of your pet. Providing interactive toys and highly-stimulating activities can help address the mental and behavioral needs of your dog.
One of the reasons why some dogs may dig under the fence is that they somehow have an idea that it’s more interesting on the other side of the fence. They may see other dogs having fun or playing outside. There may also be a powerful scent that they can smell. Dogs can see, hear, and smell these “cues” which can stimulate their curiosity. For these dogs, beyond the fence is a more interesting environment.
It is for this reason that you have to provide something more interesting for your pet. Get ready with tennis balls, rope toys, plush toys, and others. Treat-dispensing canine toys also work, since these utilize two fundamental objects that dogs love. It involves doggie treats and doggie toys. Giving dogs dental chews or any other dog chews also help. This addresses two things: canine boredom and dental health.
Whatever kind of doggie toy you provide, the action itself gives dogs the chance to get their minds off the digging. In other words, you are diverting their focus from the urge to dig to chewing on things that are beneficial for them. In a way, you are also lowering their energy levels.
Dogs that do not dig under the fence to escape can also benefit from distraction. By giving the canine mind something to “think” about, the dog will not “think” about digging in your backyard.
Allocate an Area in Your Yard for Digging
Let us keep an open mind about the digging behaviors of dogs. Some of these pets are famous for digging because of their hunting nature. In the wild, they dig in the ground, hoping to find prey. As such, it would be quite difficult for you to stop them from digging. For these types of dogs, digging is a natural part of their being.
Instead of focusing your energy on how to stop a dog from digging, you might want to allot an area in your backyard where they can dig. For obvious reasons, this will only work if you have ample space in your backyard. Put up a fence around this section of the yard and let your pet dig to its heart’s content. Place interesting objects in this “play area” so your pet will be more than enticed to play in this area.
Pet parents who do not have the luxury of a spacious backyard can construct a sandbox for the dog. It’s like a kid’s sandbox, so make sure that its dimensions are commensurate to the size of your pet.
An important aspect of such a technique is training your dog to dig only in these designated areas and not elsewhere. Take time to train your pet until it learns where it can act out its digging tendencies.
Deter Your Dog from Digging in “Prohibited” Areas of the Yard
There are certain sections of your backyard that are off limits to almost anyone, including your pet. It may be wise to deter your pet from going into these areas and start digging. You can always train your dog to stay away from these sections. However, you can also employ a few methods to deter your pet from doing so.
Get some large, flat rocks and partially bury them under the ground. Place these rocks in areas of your garden or yard where the dog often digs. The flat, large surface area of the rocks will provide a tough surface for your dog to dig. Sooner or later, it will learn never to dig in this area. This can be a great solution to how to stop a dog from digging under a fence. Line the base of the fence with large, flat rocks. This will deter your dog from digging.
An alternative to large, flat rocks is plastic chicken wire. Bury this under the ground so that the dog will not be able to continue with its digging. A good option is netting as this will not hurt your pet’s paws. On that note, do not use metal chicken wires as these can hurt or injure the dog’s paws.
If your garden has a sprinkler system, it may be wise to integrate a motion sensor in the system. If your dog moves within “range” of the system’s sensors, it will activate the sprinkler. This can be a great deterrent for your pet.
Don’t have a sprinkler? Well, you can make your own deterrent spray. Mix vinegar, cayenne, or citrus peels in a spray bottle with water. If you see your pet starting to dig, spritz some of the solution. The main issue here is that you will have to be there so you can deter the dog.
Another solution will be to plant some thorny shrubs or rose bushes around sections that you don’t want the dog to go into. These plants can serve as natural fences or borders for these sections in the yard. It may or may not help, but most dogs will not want to go beyond this border.
Control Pests in the Yard
There are dog breeds whose predator instincts are strong. The moment they see small critters invading their backyard, they will go on a hunt. Gophers, rats, squirrels, and other small animals can invade the backyard of modern homes. There may be perimeter fences, but these are often not enough to keep these pesky critters away from one’s property.
What many homeowners don’t realize is that these pests can also leave their scent in the backyard. They can urinate or defecate on the ground in the yard. These small animals can also leave other scents or smells. They can also scratch on tree trunks. Whenever they do this, these animals also leave behind their scent.
These are what your dog tends to pick up the instant it goes on a prowl in the backyard. Whenever they pick up these scents and other telltale signs of the presence of a small animal, their predatory instincts get triggered. They will go on a prowl. But since many of these scents are on the ground, they’ll begin to dig.
It’s a good idea to seal off possible entry points for these pests. Calling a pest control service can also help. Exterminators can get rid of the pests for you.
Putting a stop to your dog’s digging behavior may be challenging if you’re not sure what to do. With these simple tips, however, you can minimize such tendencies.
- Dig This: How to Get Your Dog to Stop Digging – Humane Society
- Dig This! Ways to Save Your Yard from Canine Excavating Projects – American Kennel Club