How To Stop A Dog From Digging?

digging dog

How to stop a dog from digging can be a challenging question for many pet owners. Is your pup determined to create a tunnel to the neighbor’s yard or plot an escape route beneath the fence? Dealing with a dog who constantly digs and leaves unsightly craters in your garden can be frustrating.

Thankfully, there are numerous effective solutions available to halt your dog’s digging habit. The key lies in understanding the underlying reason behind your dog’s behavior. By identifying the root cause, you can tailor the right solutions and swiftly put an end to the digging problem.


Understanding why dogs dig

Dogs don’t dig with the intent to defy or annoy their owners, even though it might sometimes feel that way. There’s usually a logical explanation behind their digging behavior.

Your dog is anxious

When dogs experience anxiety, they may exhibit various behaviors, and digging is one of them. Separation anxiety, in particular, can lead to this behavior. Dogs with separation anxiety may dig multiple holes around the fence line in your backyard as they try to cope with being left alone.

aggressive dog

In addition to digging, anxious dogs might display other behaviors such as pacing, aggression, destructive actions, and excessive barking. Their digging may stem from a belief that escaping the yard will bring them back to you sooner, making it more common when they are home alone.

Your dog is bored

Dogs, like humans, can get bored when left alone without stimulation. This is a common reason for digging, especially when you’re not at home. Puppies and high-energy dogs are particularly prone to boredom-related digging.

Boredom-driven digging often results in shallow holes scattered throughout your garden, although some bored dogs may focus on digging big holes near the fence line.

Your dog is a hunter

Certain dog breeds have a strong prey drive, which can make them more inclined to dig. Breeds like Jack Russell Terriers, Dachshunds, Cairn Terriers, Miniature Schnauzers, and Beagles are known for their digging tendencies and other hunting behaviors.

These breeds historically served as hunting companions, and their digging instincts may be a remnant of that heritage. Hunting dogs tend to concentrate their digging in specific areas where they suspect the presence of animals or path-like structures in the ground.

Whether you choose to support or minimize your dog’s hunting behavior depends on your preferences as a pet owner.

Your dog is trying to stay cool

Another common reason for dogs to dig in the garden is to find a cool patch of dirt to lie in. This behavior is especially prevalent during hot weather, such as Australian summers, when dogs seek ways to cool down.

If you notice your dog digging in a shady spot along your fence in the middle of the day, it’s likely they are digging to create a cooler resting place.

Understanding the reasons behind your dog’s digging behavior is the first step toward finding effective solutions to address and manage this habit. By addressing the underlying cause, you can help your furry friend find healthier ways to cope with their emotions and needs.


Stopping the digging habit

Now that you’ve gained insight into why your dog digs, it’s time to explore various solutions to address this behavior.

dog digging

Addressing anxiety

If your dog is digging due to anxiety, it’s essential to tackle the underlying anxiety issues as a whole rather than focusing solely on their digging behavior. Treating separation anxiety often involves desensitizing your dog to your departure routine.

To do this, you can simulate departures by grabbing your jacket and keys or opening and closing the front door during the day while you’re still home. By doing so, you can prevent your dog from recognizing your departure cues.

Additionally, practice keeping greetings and farewells low-key. Wait until your dog settles down to greet them, and ignore their barks and whines. This helps convey that your leaving and returning are not significant events.

Combatting boredom and excess energy

To prevent your dog from digging in the garden due to boredom, focus on expending their energy before you leave. Engage in activities such as going on walks, playing fetch, or providing mental stimulation through interactive toys and games.

Exercise together

Prior to leaving the house, take your dog on a long walk, ideally one where they can interact with other dogs and people. Dogs thrive on social interaction, but it can also wear them out.

long walk with a dog

By expending their energy through socializing and exercise, you may help tire them out more quickly, reducing the inclination to dig.

Enrichment dog toys

Enrichment toys, dog puzzles, and interactive toys are excellent tools to keep your dog engaged and mentally stimulated. Consider using toys, or get creative and make your own. Freeze treats inside a Kong toy to make it even more enticing for your pup.

Use a dog harness

Introducing a dog harness can be another engaging activity for your dog. It provides a different sensory experience and can be part of your playtime routine. Just be sure to choose a comfortable and properly fitted harness.

Keeping your dog cool

If your dog digs to stay cool, prioritize finding alternative ways to keep them comfortable during hot weather. If your yard allows for it, install shade sails or a pergola to provide shade.

Freeze ice blocks for your dog to lie on and add ice cubes to their water bowl. Additionally, maintain a short haircut for your dog to help keep them cool.

By implementing these strategies and addressing the underlying reasons for your dog’s digging, you can create a happier and more content canine companion while preserving the integrity of your garden and fence.

Ongoing monitoring and strategy adjustment

  • Record and Evaluate: Keep track of the frequency and context of your dog’s digging behavior. This will help you better understand which strategies are effective and which need adjustment.
  • Flexible Adjustments: If a certain method doesn’t work for your dog, don’t be discouraged. Try different approaches or combine several methods to see which combination works best for your dog.

Seeking professional help

  • Professional Trainers: If your efforts do not yield the expected results, consider seeking the help of a professional dog behavior trainer. They can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation.
  • Behavior Consultation: In some cases, digging behavior in dogs may be related to deeper behavioral or health issues. In such instances, consulting with a veterinarian or an animal behavior specialist can be very beneficial.



Understanding how to stop a dog from digging is essential for any pet owner facing this challenge. Whether it’s due to anxiety, boredom, hunting instincts, or the need to stay cool, each dog has unique reasons that drive this behavior.

Implementing effective strategies such as providing mental stimulation, physical exercise, and addressing any underlying anxiety issues can significantly reduce or stop digging.

Remember, it’s important to regularly monitor and adjust your approach based on your dog’s response, and don’t hesitate to seek professional help if needed.

By following these guidelines, you can help ensure your furry friend’s well-being and maintain the beauty of your garden. With patience and understanding, you can successfully stop your dog from digging and enjoy a more harmonious relationship with your pet.



What can I do if my dog starts digging as soon as I leave the house?

If your dog begins digging the moment you’re out of sight, it may indicate separation anxiety. To address this, consider crate training as a safe and comforting option for your dog when left alone. Crate training, when done correctly, can provide a secure environment for your dog, reducing anxiety-driven behaviors like digging.

How can I reinforce positive behavior to discourage digging?

Positive reinforcement is key. Reward your dog for good behavior with treats, praise, or playtime. If you catch them not digging, especially in situations where they typically would, reward them immediately. This reinforcement can gradually shift their behavior away from digging.

Can certain types of outdoor environments encourage or discourage digging?

Yes, your garden’s layout and the materials used can influence your dog’s digging habits. For example, using certain types of mulches or ground covers that are less appealing for digging can help. Creating a specific area where your dog is allowed to dig, like a sandpit, can also redirect their behavior.

What role does diet play in a dog’s tendency to dig?

Sometimes, digging can be linked to nutritional deficiencies or excess energy. Ensure your dog is on a well-balanced diet. A diet that’s high in nutrients and appropriate for their breed, age, and energy level can help in reducing excessive energy that might lead to digging.

Are there any considerations for dogs with long necks, like Dachshunds, in preventing digging?

Dogs with long necks, such as Dachshunds, are often predisposed to digging due to their historical roles as burrowers and hunters. For these breeds, it’s important to provide ample mental and physical stimulation. Engaging in activities that satisfy their natural burrowing instincts, like structured digging games or hunting for toys in safe areas, can be particularly effective in managing their digging behavior. Always be mindful of their unique physical structure and avoid activities that might put a strain on their necks and backs.