Why is my dog digging holes all of a sudden?

Help! How can I Stop my Dog from Digging up my Yard?

Digging holes is a natural trait for dogs, with over eighty percent of dog owners in the USA reporting that their dog likes to dig. However, when you’ve invested time and money into making your garden a thing of beauty, it isn’t easy to simply sit back and let the holes deepen and the mounds of earth build up! Understanding the reasons as to why your dog is digging up your yard, helps us figure out how to prevent further damage to your yard.

Why Do Dogs Like to Dig Holes?

Its common knowledge dogs have an amazing sense of smell, but did you also know that dogs have excellent hearing? They can hear things that humans have no idea are around. This includes creatures and bugs that live underground. When your dog digs, its likely they are trying to catch something they have heard of smelt burrowing in the earth.

Dogs may dig a hole to create a shelter. When dogs feel hot, they may attempt to dig a hole to rest in and escape the summer heat. They may also dig to shelter from other weather events, such as rain or a thunderstorm.

Sometimes if they are lacking specific minerals and vitamins from their diet, they may dig to find and eat certain types of soil. Some breeds of hunting dogs may also instinctively dig for prey. It is also widespread for dogs to dig holes to stash food items they would like to eat at a later date.

Successful strategies to stop your dog digging

Depending on the reason above, you need to take different approaches to get your dog to stop digging holes in your yard.

  • Choose a suitable location in your yard, away from fences and foundations, and designate this as their specific digging area. You could also dig a large hole for them to play in. When they play in your chosen area, heap lots of praise on them and give them treats. Put some of their favorite toys into the hole and bury a selection of treats in the hole to encourage them to dig and play in this specific area.  
  • Create a comfortable sleeping area in your yard for your dog. Put their regular bed in this spot during the day or get another bed for outdoor use only. Throw a pillow or blanket into it, which has the scent of their indoor bed on it.
  • Don’t leave your dog alone in your yard for long periods of time. Play with them regularly, and ensure they have a wide selection of interactive toys and objects to keep them entertained.
  • When you are gardening, such as planting out flowers and seeds, don’t let your dog see you. If possible, have them taken out for a walk, or at the least keep them in the house. If they see you digging your yard, its likely they will copy your behavior.
  • Make sure they have access to fresh water and shelter in your yard. This is especially important during periods of extreme warm or cold weather.
  • Bury chicken wire or wire mesh under the top layer of dirt in the areas where your dog likes to dig. Plants will still be able to grow through it, but it will stop your dog from being able to dig any more than an inch or two below the surface. You can also put large rocks over the area they like to dig in, to stop them going back to the same spot.

Dangerous and unhelpful advice to avoid

There are lots of ideas out there about how to stop your dog digging up your yard, but some of them are not only unhelpful; they are downright dangerous to your dog!

Never use a toxic chemical spray on any area of your yard to deter your dog from digging. Any product that is harmful to plants and animals, is going to hurt your pooch too. Natural remedies such as citrus oil and black or white pepper, can be safely used, but they have to reapplied often to be effective.

Dogs love to receive attention from their owners, and even punishment from digging is a form of attention. This is especially true if you don’t have that many opportunities to spend time with your dog. Ignore this behavior, and instead implement the advice given above to resolve the issue.

As your dog may be digging to get away from something they are frightened of, identify what these may be and come up with a resolution to the problem. This may involve talking to your neighbors or bringing your dog inside during certain times of the day.

As digging can be a natural behavior for many dogs, it can be detrimental to the health and well-being of your pooch to force you dog to stop doing it immediately. Make sure you take your time when following the steps above, and give the right level of support throughout the process to your pooch to ensure a successful outcome.

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