There are multiple reasons why dogs dig the ground, it can be due to instinct, boredom, fear, separation anxiety, or illness. Whatever the reason, this behavior is not good for your dog or your backyard. So, how to stop a dog from digging? Firstly, you must pinpoint the exact cause for digging behavior and then plan all the necessary measures to discourage, deter and prevent such behavior.
Now, let us dig a bit deeper into this subject.
Why Is My Dog Digging So Much?
As we’ve already said, there are numerous possible causes for digging behavior. Let’s look at the most common ones.
Your dog may be digging the backyard due to its instinct. Dogs in the wild will often dig holes in the ground and store their prey in them. It’s a convenient way to keep stashes of food for later while keeping it away from prying eyes.
Boredom can cause many behavioral issues in dogs. They can be bored just as easily as you and me. So, the dog that is left on its own for most of the day will usually indulge in problematic behaviors. Boredom can be especially intensified if the dog doesn’t have enough toys or playmates.
Solution: Limit the time your dog spends alone and provide plenty of different toys to keep him mentally stimulated.
Attention Seeking Behavior
All dogs love attention, some breed more than others, but it is a common trait for dogs in general. They desperately need those belly rubs, praises, and cuddles. Neglecting your dog or not giving enough attention will force your furry friend to do just about anything for you to finally notice him. Digging can be one of the options to get your attention. Even you scolding or punishing him is a form of attention and interaction. As you will probably come to your dog to pull it away from the hole and try to distract him or maybe give him a treat. This solution will soon become problematic as your dog will start to associate digging with you coming to him and giving him a treat.
Solution: Don’t neglect your dogs. They need as much attention as humans. Therefore, make sure to provide enough cuddling, belly rubbing, and praise as possible.
The Dog Is Trying To Escape
Your dog may be digging under the fence to escape from the yard. He may be trying to escape because he has seen something outside he wants to get, or wants to go somewhere, run away from something.
It’s hard for a dog to deal with the notion that his owner, his best friend, is not there with him. Dogs do not understand that we have to go to work and have many other responsibilities. They can’t comprehend why we left them alone. Therefore, overly attached dogs will soon manifest this notion through separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety is a behavioral issue characterized by the dog’s excessive attachment to its owner.
The most common signs of separation anxiety in dogs are:
- Destructive chewing
Solution: We can ease the separation anxiety through training. The dog needs to learn to stay alone for a certain period. We must teach the dog to tolerate being left alone.
Gunshots, fireworks, trains, or thunder produce loud sounds that can terrify your dog. In such cases, dogs will start digging holes out of fear to create a safe space for themselves.
Solution: If you are home, get your dog inside as soon as possible cuddle him, and talk to him to calm him down. In any case, your dog needs a comfortable shelter in the backyard, a safe place where he can run to in case he feels threatened.
Shortly before giving birth to the next generation of angels, a pregnant dog will start nesting. During this process, soon to be mother tries to find or create a safe place for newborn puppies. If your dog is pregnant and started to dig a hole in the backyard, she is doing so to ensure newborn puppies are safe.
Solution: Nesting is an instinct of female dogs, and there is nothing you can do about it. However, you can create that safe and cozy spot for your dog and thus solve the problem. You can also buy whelping boxes, but they can be expensive.
Garden beds are also a great option. You can use this simple frame as your whelping box. Add some blankets to make it cozy and comfortable, and you’re set up for success.
The Dog Is Trying To Cool Down
Hot summer months can be especially troublesome for dogs. Therefore, they will dig holes to cool down and relax.
Solution: Designate a shady place in your backyard for your dog to cool down and relax.
Some Dogs Are Born Diggers
Yes, some dog breeds are natural diggers. These breeds are also known as earth dogs as they were bred to dig and chase rodents.
The following breeds are natural born diggers:
Digging Can Be A Sign Of Underlying Health Issues
If you notice your dog digging and eating dirt frequently, you should visit the vet as soon as possible.
Several issues can cause this behavior in dogs:
- Gastrointestinal problems
However, not all cases of dirt-eating are signs of serious issues. Your dog may be eating the dirt simply because something tasty was there before.
How To Stop A Dog From Digging?
Block Of The Access To Do Digging Area
If your dog is constantly digging holes in one particular area, the simplest solution is to block him from accessing that area. You stop your dog from digging by placing a temporary fence or planting rose bushes around the affected area.
Use Smell And Taste Deterrents
Smell and taste deterrents are an efficient way to combat the digging behavior. Bury some deterrents in the digging area to deter your dog from digging.
The most common smell and taste deterrents are:
- Cayenne Pepper
- Citrus peels
Place A Digging Barrier
A plastic chicken wire can do wonders. You simply bury it in the digging area, and it will stop your dog from digging deep holes in your backyard.
Spray Your Dog With Water
Most dogs don’t like to be sprayed with water. Therefore, we can use water as a digging deterrent. Spray your dog whenever you see him digging in your backyard. Some owners even install a sprinkler system with motion detection sensors to deter the dog from digging.
As the old saying goes: “A tired dog is a good dog.” An active dog that has plenty of exercises every day will less likely indulge in unwanted behaviors. So, make sure your dog gets enough exercise and activity.
Provide Plenty Of Toys
Toys are a great distraction for dogs. A wide assortment of toys will keep your dog entertained and mentally stimulated.
What Not To Do
No matter how bad things look never resort to punishment. Punishing your dog will achieve nothing. Your dog simply doesn’t understand why you are punishing him, and you will only ruin your relationship.