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5 Ways To Stop Your Dog From Digging In The Yard

brown dog with dirt on his nose from digging

A muddy nose around this house is a for sure sign that some dog has been digging in the yard.

We currently have about 20 small holes scattered around our yard, each recklessly dug by Sherman and Leroy.

The holes aren’t huge, about the size of a Newfie paw, but big enough that it looks like little grenades have been set off and every time I fill the water bowl up with fresh water, some dog takes a drink and gets it all muddy.

It’s a vicious cycle that will happen over and over again until it snows or until I put a stop to it.

Getting a dog to stop digging in the yard isn’t easy, I know, I’ve tried and failed and then tried again and partially succeeded.

It takes time, dedication and understanding to stop your dog from digging in the yard.

dog sitting in fron of big dirt pile

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Why do dogs dig in the yard?

The most important thing to do is find out why your dog is digging in the yard.

There has to be a reason and some of the most common reasons that dogs dig in the backyard are:

They are looking for something.

Some dogs will dig because they are looking for rodents like moles or some dogs will dig because they’re trying to find that bone they buried last week. Breeds such as terriers have natural instincts to track and hunt rodents so if they get on the scent of one in your yard they may dig until they find it.

Solution: Try to deter rodents from entering your yard or correct your dog with commands such as “Leave it”. You can also offer your dog a distraction to deter them such as playing fetch or tug. 

They are trying to get cool.

Dogs like the Newfoundland will often dig to seek out a cooler place to lay in the warmer months. Since the ground is cooler several inches below the surface many dogs will dig to reach that cool dirt to make them more comfortable in warmer temperatures.

Solution: Offer your dog a cool spot in a shady area, offer cooling mats outside and always provide fresh, cool water. 

brown dog sitting in dirt

They are bored.

Some dogs will get bored if they are left out in the yard too long by themselves so they will look for things to keep them busy like dig a nice big hole in your yard.

Solution: Make sure that your dog is mentally and physically active and not just spending a lot of time outside in the backyard by himself. Long walks, puzzle toys, and games of find it and hide and seek are all ways you can exercise your dog physically and mentally. 

They have a medical condition.

Some dogs, like Leroy, will dig and then eat dirt because they have a condition called Pica. Pica is the persistent eating of substances such as dirt or rocks that have no nutritional value.  It can be a medical or behavioral issue.

Some dogs will also eat dirt if they are missing key nutrients and minerals in their diet.

Solution: Talk to your veterinarian if you suspect that your dog may have Pica or issues with their diet. Pica is not something to mess around with and it can cause your dog serious medical conditions

brown dog digging in yard


Other ways to stop a dog from digging in the yard

Lay chicken wire over the hole.

I’ve never done this in our yard since we have a lot of small holes scattered all over but it may work well for bigger holes.

Put dog poop in the hole.

Obviously, if you have a dog that likes to eat poop this won’t work but since neither of my dogs eats dog poop, this has worked to stop them from digging more of a hole in a hole they have already dug. However, it does not deter them from just moving onto a different area of the yard to dig.

Offer a designated digging area.

Some people build sandboxes and some will fill up a plastic kiddie pool with sand and offer that as a designated digging area. Keep in mind that you’ll have to work with your dog to let them know that THIS is where they can dig and the yard is not. You can even try to hide fun things in the sandbox for them to find.

Don’t leave your dog outside unattended.

Since Leroy has Pica this is what has worked the best for us. If I notice a pattern that Leroy is digging and eating dirt every time he goes out then I go out every single time with him. When I notice him going to an area where he digs, I tell him to leave it and he does.

If I do this consistently for a few weeks, I break the pattern and the behavior stops but he’s a dog that needs to be constantly monitored.

Dogs are natural diggers but it can be unwanted behavior especially when they are tearing up your yard.  With some time and dedication, it is possible to stop the landmines from appearing.



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Tails Around the Ranch

Monday 29th of October 2018

One of my sheepdogs was a digger and seemed to do it to find that cool spot to rest in. The yard looked like there were bunkers dug out to accommodate her body! I'd refer to her 'sleep-number' when filling them in to avoid breaking an ankle when they were let out for a potty break at night. The only time the poodles do any digging is if Elsa finds a mouse has popped into one of the compost bins. I swear she's a better mouser than most cats!

Shadow's & Ducky's Mom

Monday 29th of October 2018

Ah, yes, hole-digging dogs. I have two of them. One - Shadow - will walk away when I say "leave it"; the other - Ducky - will look up at me as if to say "up yours" and go back to her digging until I walk over to her with her toy in hand.

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