There are variety of different reasons why your puppy may be digging in your yard. In the following article, I’m going to address all the common reasons why your puppy may be digging, and how to alleviate the problem.
Digging Because Of Lack Of Entertainment
When your puppy is bored, they may look at ways to entertain themselves by digging holes in your yard. Please check out below the possible causes and solutions to this type of behavior:
- They’re left alone in your yard for long periods of time unattended by their human companions.
- The yard is left with nothing to stimulate your puppy’s mind, with an absence of toys and other objects to keep your puppy entertained.
- Being under three years of age, your puppy hasn’t matured yet and still needs a lot of outlets for their energy.
- They’re a breed specific dog that thrives off digging (such as a terrier), or they’re a working class dog that doesn’t have an assigned “job” to keep them happy.
- They’ve recently seen you digging or doing gardening in your yard, and they’re trying to mimic your behavior.
- Walk your dog at least twice per day. Your puppy or dog not getting enough exercise is a leading cause of behavioral problems in your pet.
- Teach your dog to play fetch or play with them as much as possible. This will tire them out and ensures they get enough daily stimulation.
- Teach your puppy more tricks and commands. Spend just 5 – 10 minutes per day giving them some training
- Keep interesting toys in your yard such as a Kong or another toy stuffed with treats. A busy-box dog toy works just as well. Keep rotating the toys stuffed with treats to keep them interested.
Your Puppy Is Hunting Prey In Your Yard
Sometimes dogs dig to catch prey such as wildlife or insects that live in your yard. They may do this if you catch them digging in one section of your yard, rather than all the boundaries. They can also do this at the roots of trees and shrubs.
- Search for signs off burrowing animals, and fence off the yard or make it unappealing to them. If you notice specific wildlife or insects around a tree or shrub in your yard that your puppy is digging at, either remove the plant, or fence it off completely. This will also stop your puppy trying to dig at the roots of the flora.
- Do NOT use any product or method that is harmful to wildlife. Chances are, if it harmful to animals, it’ll probably be harmful to your dog as well.
Your Puppy Is Seeking Protection or Comfort From The Elements
If you live in an area where the weather gets particularly hot, your dog may try and find a shady area in your garden and dig a hole in the dirt. They do this to lie there as an effort to get cool from the heat.
Likewise, your dog may do this to escape cold weather and shelter themselves from the elements. Another explanation as to why they may to do, is to seek water. The best way to alleviate this problem, is to provide them comfort:
- Call your dog indoors more often to shelter them from the elements when the weather is particularly bad. If your dog has a dark coat, the sunlight in summer will make them swelter from the heat. This is the same for some breeds that have a long coat.
- Make sure your dog’s kennel or doghouse is comfortable from extreme weather such as in the seasons of summer and winter, and make sure your dog is safe from wind, hot sunshine and rain. My father always added a “flap” on the front of our dog’s kennel so that it protected her from the elements.
- Provide plenty of fresh daily water, and ensure that their water bowl cannot be tipped over.
Your Puppy Is Seeking Attention From You
Similar to when you’re getting your puppy used to being confined in their area, some dogs may dig purely to get attention from you. Remember that any attention that a dog gets from their owner (positive or negative) could turn into “attention-getting” behavior. Your puppy may be looking for attention from you if they dig in your presence, or they have limited interaction opportunities with you.
What To Do:
- Give the attention your puppy deserves. Spend some special one on one time with them and play with them.
- As always, ignore the negative behavior and only praise and give attention to your dog when they display positive behavior.
- Ensure that your puppy is getting their daily dose of entertainment and interaction from you. Are you playing, training and spending enough time with your puppy regularly?
Your Dog Is Trying To Escape The Yard
If your dog is continually digging along the boundaries of your yard or along the fence line, they may be trying to escape. Try and make the environment for your pet as safe, secure and appealing place for your dog. Try and figure out what your puppy is trying to escape from, and eliminate those problems.
What To Do:
- Bury some chicken wire at the base of the fence line of the yard, making sure to roll away any sharp edges away from your puppy to ensure they don’t get hurt when they attempt to dig again.
- Place some large rocks under the fence line of the yard, and if you can, partially bury them.
- Bury the bottom of the fence at least 1 to 2 feet under the earth to keep your dog digging underneath it.
What NOT To Do To Stop Your Dog From Digging
If you notice that your dog has been digging holes while you have been at work, or while you have been away from them – do NOT immediately scold your dog’s behavior as they will have no idea what you’re yelling about. Even worse, this will heighten your dog’s anxiety levels and make them dig again.
Creating a Dedicated “Digging Zone” For Your Puppy
What To Do:
- Cover the designated digging zone with lots of loose soil or sand to encourage your dog to dig there, or use a sandbox.
- Make the digging zone attractive to your puppy and place treats and their chew toys underneath the soil of the digging zone.
- When your puppy digs in the digging zone, give them lots of praise to encourage their behavior.
- If you see your dog digging elsewhere in the yard, immediately say to them “No Dig!” and take them to the digging zone. Again, when they start digging in the digging zone, shower them with praise.
- Temporarily make the other spots where your puppy has dug unattractive them by placing rocks or chicken wire over them.
Further Reading On Puppy Yard Digging: