An Auburn, CA dog digging in the grass.

Having unsightly holes throughout the lawn and garden can be discouraging. Especially after you have gone to the trouble of planting your Victory Garden

Dogs that dig are a common problem among pet owners. Digging is not only destructive but it can also lead to your dog escaping under the fence or digging up something toxic.

To help stop your dog from digging, the team at Bowman Veterinary Hospital is here to offer some suggestions and tips. 

Why Do Dogs Dig?

In order to get to the root of the problem, you must understand why your dog digs. The urge to put paw to ground and uproot everything is something many dogs do. In most cases, it is simply an expression of instinct, rather than a plot to pulverize your plants and lawn.

The reasons for digging include…

  1. Breed – If your dog digs more than the average pup, it may be in their DNA. Dogs that are bred to hunt rodents and small mammals (like terriers), learned to dig through dens and tunnels to kill their prey.
  2. Relief from stress – If your pet is anxious or has separation anxiety, this underlying feeling can cause destructive behavior, like digging and chewing.
  3. Lack of enrichment  – Another key motivator for your dog to dig is lack of mental enrichment. If your dog is kept home alone without anything to do, digging will likely be an option for them. Every pet needs toys, games, and new challenges in order to thrive.
  4. Escape – If your dog is digging around the fence or gate, chances are you have an escape artist on your hands. This desire to roam is more often seen in dogs who are still sexually intact, or not spayed or neutered. 
  5. To den – Denning, or creating a small divot in the earth, is a natural instinct for dogs. This prepares their bed, in a sense, and allows them to curl up in safety and comfort.

Can you determine why your dog digs?

Ways to Stop Your Dog from Digging

If you are guessing about your dog’s behavior, your first stop should be your veterinarian. Digging can become chronic or compulsive in some dogs, and there is always the risk of them getting out of the back yard. To stop a dog from digging, you must:

  1. Figure out why they do it with your veterinarian’s guidance.
  2. Supervise your pet when they are outdoors, so you can redirect the digging to a game or other form of exercise.
  3. Give your pet plenty of things to do with their time, like challenging mental games that include a food treat, new toys, and interactive exercise, like fetch and chase.
  4. If your pet is alone a lot, enlist the help of a dog sitter or loved one to come by and exercise them.
  5. Address problem behaviors and separation anxiety through behavioral consultation with your vet or a professional trainer.
  6. Consider adding a sandbox to your backyard with toys and other things for your dog to dig into.

The Dig-Dog Dilemma

If your digging-doggo is causing holes in the yard or other destruction, call us for a consultation. Let’s get to the cause of this together, so that we can save your backyard and make sure your dog is happy and healthy, too.