DON’T LEAVE YOUR DOG OUTSIDE
Only allow your dog to go outside when you can supervise him. Left to their own devices, dogs will look for a way to entertain themselves which often means digging. When you catch him digging, tell him emphatically “NO!” Use an air horn, hand clap or can full of pennies to stop him in his tracks. Immediately praise him when he stops the forbidden behavior and give him a treat or toy. Make sure there is enough shade and cold water for your dog as this will also help to discourage him from digging. In cold weather, provide a warm spot for him like an insulated dog house.
EXERCISE AND PLAYTIME
Dogs often dig in the yard because they’re bored and have pent-up energy. They also crave one-on-one attention from their owners so plan on spending at least an hour (more for high energy dogs) with your dog every day. In order for your dog to get the exercise, mental stimulation and socialization he needs, you must be active with your dog. Go for a 30-40 minute walk or jog with your dog (be careful of overheating), get a rope toy and play tug-of-war for 15 minutes, plan a couple of 15 minute training sessions per day for dog tricks or obedience training. You could also go for a hike, take your dog for a swim in the lake, get involved in dog sports or visit your local dog park. Keeping your dog’s life busy and structured will greatly reduce his need to dig out in the yard and improve his behavior overall. It helps to do these things at the same times each day too because the dog will know when his activity is coming and feel restful and calm in between. Toys with treats inside will also help with stimulation.
DON’T ALLOW TOYS OUTSIDE
It’s common for dogs to bury their toys so never have chew toys, bones, or other toys outside. Only allow toys outdoors if you’re using them to engage with your dog. Frisbees or balls are fine if you’re playing fetch. It’s okay to let your dog play alone with his toys outside only if you are on hand to supervise and take them back inside with you.
PROVIDE A SPOT FOR DIGGING
Some breeds have a very strong instinct to dig so it might be a good idea to set up a place to dig. A spot in your yard specifically set aside for this. To get a dog to use just one spot, you need to supervise him outside. Pick a shady spot and If he digs anywhere else but there tell him “no,” and redirect him back to the spot. Give him lots of praise for digging in this area. You could build a sand box about three feet wide, six feet long and two feet deep. Let him see you bury one or two of his toys (very shallowly) and then encourage him to dig them up. Get down on your hands and knees and show him by pawing the sand with your hand.
TRY A DOG SPORT
Dog sports like Earth Dog Trials (for natural diggers like terriers) are a wonderful way for your dog to use his physical and mental energy and alleviate boredom. This may provide an outlet for your dog’s natural inclination to dig. This sport allows dogs to scent prey through tunnels, thus allowing them to engage in their natural instincts in a more appropriate way than digging in your flower beds. There are also hunting and tracking sports, obedience sports, herding sports, protection sports, racing sports, water sports and mushing sports.
Dogs are not out to get their owners when they dig holes all over their yard. They are simply full of misplaced energy and living in the moment. They’re young and full of love and energy, and looking for something to do. Help them out with some extra attention, entertaining toys and even a playpen out in the yard. I hope you enjoyed this article and if you have any questions or comments I welcome them and I try to answer questions within a day or two!