Authored By Susan Giordano: K9U Dog Trainer and Behaviorist
People frequently ask me how they can stop their dog from digging holes in the yard, or how to stop them from digging up newly planted flowers and shrubs. I’ve read some solutions that range from ridiculous to unreasonably difficult.
Keep In Mind
One thing to keep in mind is that dogs were originally bred to help humans achieve certain goals. Terriers, for example were bred specifically to dig and hunt vermin (Jack Russell Terriers, for one) and for these dogs, the behavior is what we call “hard-wired”.
My favorite solution for this problem is to let the dog be a dog and dig, but give him a place to dig that makes you and your dog happy. Find an inconspicuous place in your yard where it would be acceptable for some digging to take place. When your dog is inside, dig a hole in the place you have chosen that is slightly deeper and wider than the holes your dog has been digging in other places. Fill the hole with a mixture of play sand and about 1/4 of the original dirt. While you are filling the hole with this mixture throw in some of your dogs favorite chew items and toys. Hooves work well (they are outside chew toys) as well as some other favorites that you know your dog enjoys.
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Let your dog outside and watch him. When he starts digging, cheerfully go outside and guide him to the special hole you’ve prepared. If necessary, help him move the dirt/sand around a bit until he gets the idea, and when he discovers the first hidden treasure, praise him and play a quick game with him with the toy or treat he has found.
Repeat And Be Patient
You may need to repeat this a few times, watching and redirecting him to the special digging place where the good things are buried. Soon, he will get the idea and go there first to dig. Keep it stocked with hidden treasures and before long, your yard will be back to normal and your little digger will only dig in his designated area.
Another thing to remember is that some dogs dig out of boredom. A well exercised dog who spends some quality time with his human on a regular basis is much less likely to spend time digging up your yard. A daily game of fetch or a brisk walk will go a long way towards giving your dog something to look forward to and ending his boredom.