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7 Tips to Stop Your Dog from Digging Up the Yard

By Rover
May 17, 2019 • 3 min. read
dog digging up your yard

Your once-gorgeous lawn, garden, or fence-line now looks like a mini war zone, pockmarked with holes, savaged turf, and devastated vegetables. You know who’s to blame: your dog! Why does your dog keep digging up the yard? What can you do about it? Here are the top seven solutions to help stop your dog’s digging behavior, courtesy of Rover:

  1. More playtime and exercise
  2. More toys and chews
  3. Maintain an area for acceptable digging
  4. Discourage digging in unwanted areas
  5. Add digging deterrents
  6. Get rid of rodents
  7. Help your dog cool down

We’ll dig into the details below.

Digging Deterrents

If your dog has developed a habit for certain areas and keeps digging in the same place, you can take steps to discourage re-digging in familiar haunts. The simplest solution is to fence off those digging spots using a sturdy, flexible barrier.

Many dog owners bury strong-smelling or uncomfortable-feeling deterrents in digging areas and report success.

  • Partially bury rocks (flat ones in particular) in noted digging spots.
  • Bury plastic chicken wire or netting just under the surface. (Metal may hurt a dog’s paws.)
  • Citrus peels, cayenne, or vinegar may wrinkle that nose.
  • If you have a sprinkler system, a motion sensor method can be a good deterrent.
  • Rose bushes and thorny shrubs may serve as border plants for areas of concern.

dog diggingYour Dog Won’t Stop Digging? Walk It Off…

Some breeds may need more attention and exercise than others, but the first cause of unwanted digging is probably boredom and lack of exercise. Those furry bodies and happy-go-lucky minds crave activity! If those paws don’t get in a good run, the undisturbed earth begins to look like a way to work off that energy.

Puppies are particularly prone to this type of behavior, but as the Humane Society points out, digging is pretty common if dogs feel under-exercised. If they can’t leave the backyard horizontally, why not vertically?

Take action: spend more time with your dog. Running, swimming, fetch, and other activities help work off nervous energy. Schedule more walks to get them out of the yard and exploring the world. If life simply doesn’t allow for more walks, use Rover to find the perfect dog walker.

Distraction Works

Dogs dig out of instinct, but also for something to do. One great alternative to digging is giving them some fun dog diversions where they can channel that energy. This may mean assembling an assortment of toys and keeping them rotated for the novelty factor.

  • Get some classics: tennis balls, plushies, rope toys.
  • Treat-dispensing dog toys make them problem-solve for a reward!
  • Dental chews and various chew options will give them long stretches of activity that actually benefit teeth and gums.
  • Sandbox: Consider creating a space that’s intentionally designed for your dog to scratch that itch. As mentioned in our post on dog-friendly gardening, a dog sandbox may be the best ticket to satiate that dirt-digging need. This can be a freestanding box or simply a designated pit area in the corner of the yard. Spend training time to make sure your dog understands to dig there, but not elsewhere.

Pest Prevention

Is your dog the only one making disturbances in the turf? It could be that a gopher, squirrels, rats or other prey animals are leaving trails, smells, and more to rile up your buddy and get them scratching at the fence line or tearing up the terra firma. One sign might be if they are digging near trees or plants.

Take action: look for signs of invasive rodents or burrowing animals. Call an exterminator as needed or use safe and humane methods to keep wild animals out.

Keeping Cool

Your dog’s predilection for digging could be an overheating issue! During hot weather, dogs may dig to create a cool space to relax.

Take action: plan your yard to ensure it includes a safe, shady space for cooling off. You can use a simple tarp stretched between trees, but if you don’t have something handy for hanging a sunshade on, try a freestanding popup option.

This post is brought to you in partnership with Rover. Founded in 2011 with headquarters based in Seattle, WA, Rover is the nation’s largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers.

rover logo
By Rover

Rover is the nation’s largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers, based in Seattle, Wash. Rover believes everyone deserves the unconditional love of a pet, and it exists to make it easier to experience that love. The Rover app and website connect dog and cat parents with loving pet sitters and dog walkers in neighborhoods across the US, Canada, the UK, and Europe. Rover empowers a community of loving pet sitters and dog walkers to run their pet care businesses on Rover with the tools and security of our global company to back them. This includes access to a support team that’s available 24/7, the Rover Guarantee and sitter background checks to put their clients’ minds at ease, and photo updates so pet parents can keep up with their pets’ every adventure. Rover and Healthy Paws Pet Insurance have exchanged blog content.

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