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How to Stop a Dog From Digging up Your Backyard!

Every dog owner has been there. It’s a nice day, and you leave your dog in the garden to run around in the summer sun and enjoy themselves. You return an hour later, and there are holes everywhere. Don’t worry; your dog hasn’t betrayed your trust, but you will want to know how to stop them digging in the future!

Digging is, unfortunately, a natural part of doggie behavior, but for owners, it can be a nightmare seeing their fresh lawn dug to pieces. Dogs aren’t malicious, but it’s likely that there is an underlying reason as to why your dog is digging. 

Dogs dig holes when they are bored, have too much energy, or when they are trying to track down that pesky squirrel that won’t stop intruding on their territory.

For owners, however, there are plenty of ways to stop the dog from digging holes! 

Why is that dog digging a hole? 

In the vast majority of dog-digging scenarios, first time owners need not get overly worried about their pet’s behavior. Dogs love digging, but it’s also easy for owners to train them to stop digging in the backyard. 

But why do dogs dig holes in the backyard? It’s usually just a case of your dog needing a little bit of entertainment. Yes, just like humans, dogs get bored too!

Sometimes, though, dog holes in the lawn can be a sign that something more serious is up.

Here are the main reasons why your dog is digging holes in your lawn:

Your dog is bored

You leave your dog outside, then come back and find the flowers have been torn up and there are holes everywhere! Your dog’s digging approach seems totally random, and that’s because it probably is. 

This sort of dig dog behavior is a good sign that your pet dog is simply bored. They aren’t satisfied, and they need entertainment. If their owner isn’t going to provide that entertainment, well, they’ve got to start making their own fun!

Your dog is hunting down intruders

Dogs are very territorial, and they’ll likely see your backyard as their own personal fiefdom. Anything that intrudes on their territory is fair game for hunting!

If you catch your dog digging under the fence or in the flower beds, they are likely to be chasing down other animals that have made their way into the garden. 

They want to escape 

Holes under the fence can also mean that your dog is looking to escape, too.

  • Your dog could be trying to escape because they are adventurous or are looking to explore the neighbor’s garden. 
  • It could also be more serious, and your dog might be trying to escape home altogether. This need for escape can be your dog telling you that they aren’t happy.
  • They might have separation anxiety, and they might be seeking more attention from their owner, or they might be escaping in search of more comforts that they aren’t getting at home. 

How to stop a dog from digging holes? 

There are lots of ways to stop your dog from digging up the backyard, but before you’re successful, you might find yourself having to try out a few different methods!

It’s best to start by assuming that your dog is simply bored, in search of entertainment, or just looking for more attention. If the problems are more serious and your dog is escape-minded, this will become apparent in time.

Try out these tested methods to stop your dog from digging: 

#1 Longer walks and more exercise

Dogs are full of energy, and as an owner, it’s your responsibility to keep them well-walked and exercised!

If your dog is digging:

  • Start taking them for longer walks.
  • Get them to run around in the park.
  • Chase sticks or play with other dogs.
  • Get them exhausted, and they won’t have the energy to dig!

#2 Provide toys and chews to play with 

If you’re struggling to find the time for long walks, then make sure your dog has lots of toys and chews to play with instead. 

Keep them occupied, with a new ball for the garden or a rubber stick that they can spend all day trying to chew through. Your lawn will thank you later!

#3 Extra affection and more playtime at home

It’s easy to get caught up with work or our private lives, and before long, your dog feels neglected. Digging is their way of saying that they want more attention!

Make more time for your dog at home. Play with them in the evenings, give them more affection, or let them sit up with you on the sofa while you watch tv rather than relegating them to the basket. 

A little bit of love goes a long way, and regardless of the real problem, your dog isn’t going to say no to a few extra cuddles every day!

#4 Build digging barriers and digging pits

If your dog is tenaciously destroying your garden (particularly in very specific areas), it could be time to build some defenses!

  • Setting up digging barriers, such as a wire mesh along the bottom of your fence, will stop your dog from physically being able to dig. 
  • Building a digging pit, or allocating an area of the garden where you tolerate digging, helps to focus your dog’s attention away from areas of the garden you want to keep pristine. 

#5 Remove pests from your garden 

If your dog is trying to get to other animals, then it’s best to remove them from the garden. 

Barriers can also help to stop unwanted guests from entering the garden, but in some cases, you might need to consult a pest removal expert to keep your backyard rodent-free. 

Be super careful if you lay traps; you don’t want your dog getting hurt!

#6 Train your pet 

How well is your dog trained? If the answer is not well enough, then consider investing time in teaching your dog to obey commands better. 

Train them to stop digging if you catch them, or train them to stay away from areas of the garden you don’t want to be destroyed.

Puppy training classes early on can help immensely, but remember, a dog is never too old to learn new tricks!

How to stop your dog from digging: the final say 

If your dog is digging in your lawn, then there are lots of simple methods that can put a stop to it:

  • Extra exercise;
  • Long walks in the park;
  • Dedicated digging box in the backyard - all help your dog to stop digging where you don’t want them to!

If dog-digging behavior does continue and starts to seem unnatural, however, then it can be a sign that your dog has anxiety or is feeling uncomfortable in their home life - our dog might need more affection, more attention from its owner, or more home comforts. 

If you’re unable to stop your dog from digging holes, though, then consider consulting a behavioral specialist or your local veterinary practice for further advice. 

Why not bookmark our guide to dog digging, so you can learn how to stop your dog from digging up your lawn?

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