How to stop your dog from digging

28 Jun 2023

It's no secret that dogs love to dig. While the occasional scuffle in the soil can be entertaining to watch, it can be a bit of an inconvenience if your dog is digging up your freshly planted flowerbeds and bringing mud into your house.

 

The truth is dogs dig for various reasons. Sometimes out of comfort, boredom, or to calm down. Digging can be common in certain breeds, such as Terriers, who tend to be more prone to this behaviour. Digging can also highlight anxiety and stress, or nesting behaviours in pregnant female dogs. The best way to resolve any unwanted digging is to provide an alternative, more constructive way to allow your dog to dig.

 

LIMIT ACCESS

Consider limiting access to areas where your dog usually digs. You can do this using garden fencing or something similar. If that isn’t possible, it’s best to supervise your dog while they're outside until you've established a new digging area for them.

 

USE A LONG-LINE LEAD

Making use of a long-line lead will allow you to move your dog away from areas where they'd usually dig. This can be used in your garden as well as out on walks with your dog. Learn more by reading our advice on using a long line lead.

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RECALL YOUR DOG

If your dog is off lead, ensuring they have a strong and reliable recall will make it easier for you to encourage them away from digging in any unwanted areas. This can also be a fun form of enrichment for you and your dog. 

 

CONSIDER USING A SANDPIT

A small sandpit can be a great designated digging area for your dog. Consider placing the pit away from the area where your dog usually digs and filling it with a small amount of soil. This will provide them with an outlet to dig and play in a controlled environment, whilst sparing your flowerbeds! You can encourage your dog to dig and play in the sandpit by placing some treats and toys in the soil.

 

PROVIDE ENRICHMENT 

Alternatively, providing your dog with a range of mental and physical enrichment is a very easy way to give them something to do. Consider getting your dog a snuffle mat to play with, or you could create a deconstruction box for them using a cardboard box filled with scrunched up paper. You could even fill the box with hidden treats and this will encourage your dog to use their nose and brain to search for them.

 

MAKE USE OF A NOSE 'TOUCH' AND 'DROP IT' CUE

A nose 'touch' will encourage your dog away from unconstructive digging areas as you can redirect them to somewhere appropriate. You can learn how to teach your dog a nose ‘touch’ through our existing advice. Additionally, a 'drop it' cue will prevent your dog from holding onto anything they shouldn't, especially when outside. Teach your dog a 'drop it' cue by following our simple step-by-step guide.

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