Dogs & Digging

Digging is a natural, if not always desirable, dog behavior.

How to Avoid Digging Problems

Let your dog live in the house. He is a member of your family. Dogs who live outside will often dig, and act in other undesirable ways, to relieve boredom, stress, or anxiety.
Spay or neuter your dog. Pets who are intact will try to find a mate. They will burrow under fences, get lost, injured or worse trying to escape.
Give your dog a safe place to dig. If it’s possible, designate a section of your yard as his “place” – hide favorite bones, toys or treats (when he’s not looking), and let him discover them!

How to Stop Existing Problems

Find out why your dog digs. Is he bored? Is he suffering from separation anxiety? Is he trying to escape? Is he hunting something? Once the root of the problem is discovered, you will be better equipped to solve it.
Supervise outdoor play. Do not leave your dog in the yard alone, and never tie him up. If he’s been digging to hide toys, food or other items, don’t let him bring them outside.
Give your dog plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. A tired dog is a happy dog – make sure your dog exercises appropriately for his breed and age. Let him exercise his mind too – provide meals in a Kong® or other fillable toy, and give him special toys when you’re away.
Obedience train your dog. Group classes are a great way for him to build confidence. Little sessions before you leave home will help keep him stimulated. If he’s suffering from separation anxiety, private sessions with a trainer can help you overcome the problem.

Change the environment

Discourage wildlife. Remove fruit from trees often, keep tight lids on garbage cans, and do not store pet food outdoors.
Extend the fence. If your dog had been tunneling under the fence, get it fixed. Extend it at least two feet underground with bricks, concrete or the like.
Plug the hole. If your dog won’t leave a previously-dug hole alone, try burying his feces in it and covering the hole. He won’t dig in that hole again, but will likely dig others if you do not correct the root of the problem.

Please note, articles in the Animal Resource Library are for reference only, and are not meant to diagnose or treat any medical or behavioral issues your pet may be experiencing.