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Trouble in the backyard
Even though dogs, especially puppies, are bound to fill your life with pure joy, there’s one problem that’ll probably keep you up at night: how to stop your dog from digging in the yard?
Albeit normal, dogs digging up the entire backyard is bound to become an annoying issue. At the very least, your dog is always going to be covered with dirt and mud!
And let’s face it — not many breeds actually love bathing or jumping in the shower.
In the end, digging is in their nature. However, there are a few things you could do to stop them from making your entire backyard look like you’ve employed a very bad gardener.
How to win the yard battle and influence misbehaving diggers
#1 See if they’re trying to tell you something
Sometimes, dogs can dig up the yard for no other reason but boredom. However, our canine friends are clever creatures and, if there’s something dangerous out there, they want us to know.
Thus, before scolding the dogs or trying to make them understand why they shouldn’t dig, you ought to first find out if your backyard has something more sinister in store for you.
More often than not, there’s nothing scary in your backyard. So if you’ve concluded that your dog needs a bit more training and/or encouragement in other activities, move on to the other tips.
#2 Talk to them, human to dog
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should engage in an entire conversation with your puppy, hoping they will understand. After all, if you’re not fluent at barking, you’re out of luck!
What we mean is that you should make it clear that you don’t think digging up the yard is acceptable.
You are going to use the same words you use on most occasions when your dog is misbehaving.
Training your dog to just “leave” something will prove useful on many occasions, as both puppies and older dogs alike are very curious.
#3 Shower them with attention
Most of the time, your dog decides to dig up your entire yard because they’re just plain bored! So to combat that issue, you ought to invest some time and pay attention to their needs and wants.
Puppies are especially prone to boredom-induced digging, as they have too much energy to handle themselves properly. Therefore, try to engage your puppy in other activities.
A bit of chasing around, some tug-of-war and plain old rolling on the floor could do a lot for your dog’s digging problem. Not only will you stop them from even thinking about digging, but you’ll also bond with them like you’ve never bonded before!
There’s also another positive effect of this extra attention — you’ll tire your dog out.
#4 Turn them into Rocky
One of the best ways to stop your dogs from destroying your backyard is to just tire them out. That way, they won’t have the energy nor the will to dig all day long.
A good way of tiring them out is taking them on long, activity-filled walks.
Of course, you could just opt for a regular, but lengthier walk here.
However, it would be great if you could take them for a long walk and then stop by a park to play catch, for example. That would tire the dog out even more, and it would reduce its energy levels.
Another fantastic idea would be to put a backpack on them while they’re outside. Fill the backpack with all sorts of things, but make sure that it’s not too heavy.
Then, put the backpack on your dog and indulge them by playing some of their favorite games.
With these sorts of activities, the dog will be ready for bed and will probably not even think about making any additional holes in your backyard.
#5 Create distractions
This tip closely ties in with the “pay more attention to your dog” tip. Basically, if you want to stop your dog from digging, you ought to find them a suitable distraction.
Now, there are all sorts of distractions on the dog toy market. From chewy ducks to rubber chickens, teeth-flossing ropes and balls galore, you will easily find something they will prefer more than digging.
A good idea would be to make the distraction into an activity as well. You can use puzzles that come with obstacles they would have to knock down or otherwise destroy or solve to get to their food.
That way, they’ll still have to use their paws for something, so they won’t miss the digging that much. What’s more, these food obstacle puzzles are a great way of tiring them out, as well as giving them some mental stimulation.
#6 Contain their digging enthusiasm
At first, you will not know what is actually making your dog do that much digging in your yard. You’ll probably feel frustrated and decide that maybe you should punish them.
However, this isn’t the best approach. The dog may become angry with you and take your harsh words to heart.
What we recommend instead is that you contain their digging until you find a more suitable solution.
This entails letting them dig a secluded area of your backyard that you don’t mind sacrificing. But an even better choice would be to build a dog sandbox for them!
But how will you make them use it? Easy!
Just remember to bury some treats or some foul-smelling things in the sand. That way, the dog will basically smell all the things they can smell in the yard, thus making it easier for them to just dig the sandbox instead.
#7 Give them a place they can call their own
Sometimes, dogs decide to dig up the yard because they need a safe place to hide from the heat or cold. Being too warm or too cool makes them quite anxious, which often leads to them digging a hole underground where they can protect themselves.
If you’ve been supervising your dog’s digging habits and you’ve concluded this is why they’re digging holes, then it’s time to do something about it. They need a proper home outside, and you ought to provide them with it.
In essence, dogs are not that needy, so they don’t require a dog mansion. Hence, you can easily build them a dog house with your own two hands.
There are very useful tutorials on this online, so you can browse through some and decide on the design that would make your dog feel extra comfortable. However, make sure you’ve taken their needs into account.
Your dog will need enough space to curl up and to wind down after a long day of walking, barking and chewing toys. Moreover, the dog house has to be properly insulated to actually protect them from snow or too much sunshine.
Finally, make sure the dog house is decorated according to your dog’s taste (yes, that’s possible!) Add a few toys in the house so that they can play when they get bored. What’s more, ensure there are huge bowls with food and water near it.
A good idea would be to make the bowls stationery, i.e., they cannot be easily tipped over. That way, you won’t have to go outside even in the worst heat to fill up the bowls again.
#8 Discourage them with your sneakiness
Sometimes, your dogs will need some tough love if you want to stop them from digging up your entire lawn. For that, a chicken wire fence is a good idea.
This fence will discourage the dog from going near the part of the yard they love digging up the most.
However, there’s a chance your little canine friend is a bit smarter than you’d expect. They just might dig underneath it instead!
If that happens, then try the rock technique. All you have to do is bury rocks in the area they love digging the most and watch what happens.
More often than not, dogs will find digging up rocks quite unpleasant and strange, so they might stop digging altogether.
Finally, if nothing else works, you’ll have to employ some sneaky techniques. Burying a balloon underground and having your dog find it will prove quite effective.
Just the sheer popping of the balloon could discourage them from digging up your yard forever! However, if that’s a bit too harsh for you, you could also go the safe route and use some orange peel (or lemon or grapefruit) to make the area smell unpleasant to them.
Most dogs hate citruses, so they’ll stay away from that part of the yard. Still, some dogs love them, so they might even think you’re encouraging them to dig a bit more.
If that’s the case, then you’ll just have to opt for some of our other tips.
Even if they’ve dug up your entire yard, your dog still loves you more than anything else in the world. So if you love them too, use some of these tips and try to safely and politely discourage their behavior.
The key ideas you ought to remember here are:
- Start by supervising the digging and determining which part of the yard they love the most.
- After that, use some of our less harsh tips to stop them.
- Whatever you do, don’t punish your dog for their digging habits. It’s in their nature and quite normal.
In the end, if you want to stop your dog from digging in the yard, you’ll have to get to know your canine friend a bit better. Luckily, these tips will prove useful too, as you’ll have a much easier time curbing their digging enthusiasm by knowing what to do!
Dave is a lifelong animal lover and founder of MyPetAcademia.com. He loves helping people so he took his passion for animals into the world of blogging. He and MyPetAcademia aim to provide tips that will help pet owners better understand their little friends.