Stop your dog from digging up the yard

We didn’t do anything

If you could ask your dog why they love to dig so much, you might get one of the following answers:

  • It feels so good. I just love the feel of fresh soft dirt on my paws. This big hole in the cool dirt feels so great when I want to rest. I learned it from a friend.
  • It is really entertaining. Just watch how I can make this dirt fly through the air.
  • It is great exercise and I need to do something with all this energy.
  • I am so bored. I am just occupying my mind with something interesting.
  • I smelled something suspicious out there and I am going to find it.
  • I have to get out of here.

So it is easy enough to understand why they love to dig. A tougher question is what do you do about it once it has begun? Digging is very self-rewarding. How do you get your dog to stop doing something they clearly enjoy so much?

Have a designated place to dig. If you can give them one spot that is just for digging, It is easy enough to teach them that this is the only spot to enjoy the digging. A kiddie pool filled with dirt is great. You can even bury some toys in the dirt to make it even more exciting.

Redirect and reward with activities that are even more fun. Using positive interrupters are a great way to train dogs.

Exercise is a great way to occupy your dog’s body in a positive way. A tired dog will be less inclined to dig up the yard.Mental stimulation is a must for most dogs. The smarter the dog, the more you will need to stimulate them mentally. Obedience training is great for mental stimulation. Training sessions will tire a dog out as much as a walk — just in a different way.Monitor behavior. Catch the digging early. A firm “no dig” and re-direction helps. Reward good behavior. Bury chicken wire in the holes and cover with rocks to make the digging areas less desirable temporarily. Make sure to roll sharp edges away from digging surface. If the pet is intent on escaping, a concrete border poured along the perimeter and at least 12″ deep may be necessary to keep some breeds from digging their way to freedom. As with all habits, the longer it is allowed to persist, the harder it will be to correct. In addition to the previous tips, the one that is often the quickest and easiest is to bury the dog’s poop or coffee grounds in the holes. Fill with some cheap vinegar. I like to stock up at the dollar stores. Dogs don’t like the smell of vinegar and most do not want to dig in poop or coffee ( I have used both). Once the holes are filled, cover them with dirt. You won’t smell the poop or coffee once it is covered. But, your dog will definitely smell it. You will have to be consistent. After a couple weeks of this, most dogs will give up and go onto something that smells better to occupy their time. They may try a few other places as well. But, if you are consistent, they WILL give up. As with all things concerning dogs, patience and persistence is the most important quality for a dog owner to possess.

Originally published at


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