Dogs dig with intense focus and enthusiasm, which is difficult to break, but if you address your dog’s underlying reasons for tilling the earth, you will find it much easier to direct his energy toward acceptable behaviors—and away from the ever-expanding holes in your lawn. Explore the following reasons why dogs dig, as well as the solutions, to learn how to stop dogs from digging holes.
#1: Escaping the Property
Dogs dig under fences to escape the property for several reasons, one of which is a need for exercise. When dogs spend most of their time indoors or in a confined area, they may turn to destructive behaviors or look for escape routes to release their excess energy. Other reasons for digging to escape include the search for a mate, fear of loud noises such as fireworks or thunder, and the hunt for food.
Solution: As a temporary measure, use physical barriers such as bricks or chicken wire along the bottom of the fence to block your dog from digging beneath it. Then, focus on eliminating your dog’s reason for escaping: Have your dog spayed or neutered if you haven’t already done so, and provide at least 45 minutes of daily exercise. If your dog digs only to escape loud noises, use exposure therapy to increase his comfort with the noise. <br /><span style=”line-height: 1.3em;”>Verbally reprimand your dog whenever he nears the fence and redirect him toward an appropriate area or suitable activity. After you eliminate his reason for escape and train him to stay away from it, remove the physical boundaries you had put in place.
Dogs dig holes to find relief from the elements. The cool, upturned earth is an inviting bed during hot weather and it can insulate them against cold air and snow, too.
Solution: An insulated doghouse can discourage your dog from digging during colder weather, especially if it is elevated above the wet ground and contains warm blankets. Say “no” when you catch him digging, and redirect him to the comfortable area you provided. Another solution is to build an outdoor kennel with a cement bottom ensuring lots of shade and a dog house within to provide shelter from inclement weather.
#3: Fun and Excitement
Sometimes a dog digs for fun or for the excitement of uncovering insects, small rodents, or tantalizing scents. This is especially common with terriers, scent hounds, and any dog that routinely sees his owner “playing” in the garden.
Solution: Because it’s so difficult to stop dogs from digging when they thoroughly enjoy doing it, your best option is to let them dig—in one area only. Bury and scatter dog toys and treats in one area of your yard or in a sandbox, and praise your dog for playing and digging in that area. When he digs elsewhere, say “no” and direct him toward the designated digging spot.
Stopping dogs from digging is a matter of finding a suitable replacement for the unwanted behavior. By also providing them with adequate exercise, you greatly reduce boredom and thus their need and desire to excavate the earth.