If you have a dog that's constantly digging up your flower beds it can be incredibly frustrating. Find out why your dog digs and how to stop them from doing it with our helpful guide.
Dogs can develop the urge to dig at any time in their life: it could be a habit they’ve had since being a puppy, or something that comes on later in their adulthood. Find out more about what drives dogs to dig in order to determine how to stop a dog digging.
The occasional scuffle in the soil isn’t a problem, but digging as a repeated habit can be a destructive behaviour. If you don’t discourage digging early on, significant damage can be done to your garden and home, and it will become harder to train your dog not to dig.
Find out more about what drives dogs to dig in order to determine how to stop a dog digging.
Why is my dog digging holes all of a sudden?
There are many reasons as to why dogs dig; it’s crucial to try and identify the exact cause in order to find the best method of how to stop a dog digging. Knowing your pet well and spending time with them will really help when trying to rectify destructive habits. Here are a few possible reasons why your dog’s new favourite pastime is digging holes:
If your dog is left feeling bored or lonely, they may start digging as a way to occupy themselves. Digging can then quickly turn from a one-time source of entertainment into a repetitive habit, which they repeat every time they begin to feel bored. If a dog’s environment isn’t stimulating or they aren’t getting enough social interaction, this may be the cause of your pet’s destructive digging.
Some breeds of dog are biologically more inclined to dig. In the past, they may have been bred for the purpose, and it can be difficult to train this instinct out of them.
Research dog breeds thoroughly before deciding on which dog is best for you: your family, lifestyle, and home. If you have access to a lot of wild outdoor space, then breeds such as terriers—which were originally bred to dig—should thrive.
It may be that your dog has picked up on something that you haven’t, and they believe they’re doing you a favour! All dogs have a natural instinct to hunt, and if your pet has detected a pest problem in your home or garden, they may well be digging to hunt out the pests.
Animals will often dig as a way to try and find comfort or protection in their environment. This may happen if your dog is left outside on a hot day without access to a shaded area or, alternatively, if they’re left outside in the cold without access to heat.
Destructive behaviours such as digging can develop as a result of many different things. Stress and anxiety are key factors in pets developing new, destructive tendencies, and it can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint exactly what is likely to be causing your pet to feel stressed. Changes in routine or environment can be unsettling for animals, so if there has been a sudden change in your dog’s life, this may be the cause. Find out more about dog separation anxiety and how you can keep your dog calm.
How to stop a dog digging
If you think it’s time to take action and stop your dog’s digging habit, here are a few ways that might help completely stop the behaviour:
1. Remove sources of stress
If your dog is digging because they are stressed or feel threatened, it’s important to try and determine the root of their anxieties. Sometimes, this can be something as unavoidable as moving house: a sudden change in environment is often stressful for animals. In this case, you can help to ease the transition by spending plenty of quality time with your pet, and by setting up a ‘safe’ area in the new house. Recreating their sleeping space in as similar a location as possible will help with the transition.
When figuring out how to stop a dog digging, first look for any changes in their environment or routine.
Ensure that your pet is receiving the right amount of dog exercise every day according to their breed. Different dog breeds require vastly difficult levels of daily activity, and it doesn’t always follow that a small dog needs less exercise!
Your dog should be getting at least half an hour of outdoor activity every day. Increasing their level of exercise could help them to burn off the extra energy that they are spending on digging up holes in your garden.
3. Mental stimulation
Dogs need as much mental stimulation as physical exercise, and if your dog is left feeling bored throughout the day, their digging may be due to a lack of mental stimulation.
How to stop a dog digging through lack of mental stimulation is simple: by spending more time with your pet doing the things you both enjoy! Playing fetch, going for walks, and other dog games. Enriching your pet’s environment with additional dog toys will also provide your pet with vital stimulation when they’re alone. Dog food toys and obstacle courses are other fun ways to add to their daily stimulation. Discover ideas for dog games that will help engage their brains.
4. The pest problem
How to stop a dog digging that is hunting pests in your home or garden is simple: sort out the pest problem!
Find humane ways to catch or trap the problem pests, or hire experts to do it for you. Always be careful when using chemicals of any kind to treat a pest problem, as they can be toxic to your dog.
5. Provide shelter and shade
Although dogs have come from the wild, these days they’re used to their creature comforts! If you leave your dog outside for long periods of time, ensure they have access to shade when it’s hot, and shelter when it’s cold. You should also make sure they can always get a drink of fresh water: source an ‘untippable’ dog bowl just to be sure.
6. How to stop a dog from digging under a fence
It’s one of the most common dog digging offences of all: the urge to escape! If your pet still continues to dig around the fence, you can dissuade the behaviour by making it more difficult: try half-burying rocks along the edge of the fence.
If your dog is still a digger by habit, then you may need to create a ‘digging zone’ in which they can play out their natural instinct. Find a place in your garden that you don’t mind being disrupted, and praise your dog for digging in that particular spot.
Check out our basic dog training commands guide for more tips that can help you refrain your dog’s digging behaviour.