How To Stop A Dog From Digging?

How To Stop A Dog From Digging

Why Dogs Dig

  • Instinct: Derived from their wolf ancestors, many dogs dig for survival or hunting reasons.
  • Boredom: Lack of exercise or mental stimulation leads to destructive digging.
  • Seeking Comfort: Dogs may dig to create cool spots in hot weather or warm shelters in cold conditions.
  • Hiding Treasures: They might bury bones, toys, or other prized possessions.
  • Escape Attempts: Especially when digging under fences or trying to break free
  • Prey Drive: Chasing small animals like rodents or insects.
  • Attention Seeking: If they feel neglected, destructive behavior like digging can be a way to get your attention.

How to Stop Destructive Digging

  1. Identify the Cause: Understanding the reason behind the digging will help you address the problem.

  2. Management Techniques:

    • Deterrents: Use unpleasant smells (citrus, cayenne pepper) or physical obstacles (rocks, thorny bushes) near digging spots.
    • Block Access: Fence off problem areas.
    • Designated Digging Zone: Create a dog-friendly sandbox for them to dig safely.
    • Motion-Activated Sprinklers: These are an effective tool to discourage digging in a specific area.
  3. Address the Root Problem

    • Exercise and Play: Ensure your dog gets plenty of physical and mental stimulation to prevent boredom.
    • Remove Prey: Use humane pest control if rodents are attracting your dog.
    • Eliminate Hiding Spots: Securely store tempting items that your dog might want to bury.
    • Positive Attention: Give your dog plenty of love and attention to prevent attention-seeking digging behavior.

Additional Considerations

  • Breed: Some breeds are more prone to digging (like Terriers).
  • Soft Soil: Avoid overly soft landscaping that encourages digging.
  • Bed Digging: Investigate reasons like anxiety, marking territory, or searching for hidden items.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the reasons behind your dog’s digging is key to finding an effective solution.
  • Patience and consistency are important when changing their behavior.
  • Provide safe alternatives and exercise to satisfy your dog’s natural urges.
  • If the behavior persists or seems related to anxiety, consult a veterinarian or dog behaviorist.

Why do dogs dig?

You have to understand that digging is simply a part of your dog’s nature and may require your extra attention to put an end to it. Digging is good when your dog is fending for itself; however, less welcome on flower beds. Even though it is in its genes, there are a few causes for this behavior, as listed below.


It is a well-known fact that the action of digging is the most instinct your pet inherited from their wolf ancestors.

It is second nature to them. In a few breeds, the need for digging is stronger as it is trained for their digging abilities. Humans have also trained certain breeds to be excellent diggers and used them as burrowing experts.

Hunting Prey

Your pet is still connected to its wild roots and enjoys chasing the potential prey. Your dog is likely to dig if small mammals and bugs are found frequently on your property.

Sometimes the scent of the passing animal is enough to entice your pet to start digging. An increase in animal droppings can be one more reason for your dog’s digging behavior.

Your pet will dig in places around trees or rocks as the chances of finding small prey are high.

Relieve Stress or Plain fun

Dogs are playful animals and sometimes follow certain behaviors like digging in, displaying restlessness, or stress. If you are not giving it enough attention due to an addition of a new dog or another member of your family, it feels left out and will start digging.


Many dogs turn to this destructive behavior due to boredom. If you are not able to keep your pet occupied with fun activities and help in releasing its pent-up energy, you might catch your dog busily digging in your garden.

Not getting enough exercise are a few other factors that would make your pet start digging. Lack of physical activity or mental stimulation is the main reason for this behavior.

Hidden Treasure

Do you have a dog that likes to hide its favorite toys and treats? If your pet likes to enjoy its treats alone, it may have found a place to hide the same to eat later.

Your pet may have a favorite spot in the house or on the lawn to bury the treats and dog toys. Suppose your pet forgets the place where it hid its treasure; it will go around digging more places.


When your dog feels like running away, digging under the fence is easier than jumping above it and escaping. Another reason can be something or someone waiting on the other side of the fence. However, it can prove to be dangerous if it meets with an unfortunate accident or someone harms it.


Dogs also like to dig into shelter against cold, wind, rains, and sun. When it is hot or cold outside, your pets might dig to take shelter. The cool soil helps to beat the heat if your homes do not have air-conditioning systems. During a cold climate, your dog will dig and get into the soil to keep warm.


Few dogs want a space of their own. If your dog has an urge to create its shelter, it will dig and create a den. This nature of creating a den comes from its wild ancestors. You can train your dog to sleep in crates.

How to stop a dog from digging?

You have just returned from a tiring day at work and find mud and dirt all over the house. It is due to your dog’s favorite pastime of digging your lovely flower beds. Nothing can be more frustrating than having to clean it up.

Some other time your dog might be busy digging your yards. Now it is sure to harm you since a yard full of craters will turn into a perfect accident spot.

Dogs dig holes for many reasons, and discovering what is motivating your pet can help you in resolving the problem. Let us look at some of the common causes of your pet’s digging habits:

Cover the area with digging determinants

Your pet’s instinct of sniffing is good to make it stop digging. All you need is a repulsive scent, and your dog’s keen sense of smell is enough to stop the digging.

The most effective is the smell of red cayenne pepper since it will irritate your dog’s nostrils. This is enough to keep it in its tracks.

Your dog would want to avoid such a nasty smell and not dig the area covered by this powder. Few other digging determinants are

  • Citrus peels (Oranges, lemon), Vinegar
  • Coffee grounds
  • Your dog’s poop
  • Rocks in digging spots
  • Rose bushes and Thorny Shrubs
  • Dog Poop

Sometimes an anti-chew spray works as a deterrent.

Deny entry to the digging spot

Is your dog concentrating on digging a certain portion of your backyard or the garden? The easiest way to abstain your pet from doing so is to deny access to that area. Fencing works for vegetable gardens and flower beds.

You have to consider your pet’s breed before choosing the fence. A small fence may keep pugs out, whereas large dogs might easily jump off the fence to reach the digging spot.

For taller and big dogs, you will need a big fence. It may take some hard work to fence off the place where your pet loves digging.

Design a special place for digging

You can give your dog a special place on the lawn or yard and create a digging zone. Dogs prefer soil that is soft and sandy.

You can design a freestanding box or assign a corner for your pet. Dogs love the feel of sand as it is easy to move around.

So, the idea of a sandbox works. You can guide your dog to this spot by hiding its favorite toys or treats. You can regularly hide surprises in your dog’s sandpit so that it does not dig anywhere else.

Water Blaster with Sprinkler system

Few dogs hate to take water. If your pet hates rain and puddles on the ground, it will avoid those places.

You can use water as its digging deterrent. Every time your dog goes into the garden near its digging spot, spray your pet with water, and it will move away from that place.

Instead of using the garden nose each time to sprinkle water, you can install a motion sensor sprinkler system. If the sprinkler notices any movement in the garden, it will squirt water and soak your dog and make it avoid that place.


Dogs are energetic creatures, and few breeds require lots of exercise. Lack of physical activity and exercise can lead to boredom and unwanted digging.

As dogs like to sniff, allowing your dog to sniff by taking it for long walks is good to keep it away from the digging.

You have to spend more time with your pet to keep it active, or else it will find a way to unleash its energy by destroying your well-maintained lawn.

Providing proper ways to burn off your dog’s energy will keep it occupied and away from destructive activities.

Get rid of rodents

If you find your pet digging at the same place every day, it may be due to an animal hiding in there.

Your backyard can be a house to many small animals like squirrels, rats, mice, rabbits, lizards, bugs, insects, frogs, and toads.

These animals leaving trails and smells are enough for your dog to dig that place. If your pet is from the breed that hunts, it is sure to smell these animals and prey on them.

You need to remove these animals from your area so that your pet stops digging for them. Pests can be kept in control with the pest control methods, but make sure it’s dog safe.

Avoid using soft, sandy soil in your garden or lawn.

If you have filled your garden with soft sandy soil, be ready for your pet to start its favorite activity, which is digging.

Dogs like to play in the soft sand as compared to rocky soil. Rocky soil can damage your pet’s paw, so it will not go near the area with this type of soil.

But sandy soil is loose and soft, thus making it easy to dig and play. Hence if you fill your garden with soft, sandy soil, it is time to change it.

Attention seeker

Dogs love attention. Your dog will love praise, cuddles, and treats from you. However, if you are not spending enough time with it, your dog will follow any behavior that will get your attention.

Your pet knows that digging and destroying your lawn or garden is the only way to get your attention. The moment your dog starts digging, you are bound to notice and stop it from destroying the grass.

You may reward your pet for its good conduct. So now your dog has connected digging with attention, and it knows that every time it digs, you are sure to notice.

Why do dogs dig the bed?

Dogs have scent glands in their paws, so digging into a bed can be a way of marking it as their own. The main reason why your pet might be digging the bed is to give itself a comfortable place to lie down.

This survival instinct comes from their wild ancestors, who used to create a shelter to protect themselves from the environment.

Dogs have sensitive noses, and if your pet has been digging into the carpet, it is smelling food particles stuck in the carpet fibers. There are a few more reasons why your pet might be digging the bed:

  1. To mark its territory – Dogs have scent glands at the bottom of their feet, and these glands secrete a distinct pheromone. So, if your dog digs the bed, it is its sign of marking the bed as its own.
  2. Investigating – Your dog might be digging the bed if it feels there is something hidden in it. If your pet feels something like a treat or toy hiding inside the bed, it might want to dig into the bed.
  3. Anxiety – If your pet has been continuously digging and it does not have any calming effect on it, it might be due to anxiety.

You can prevent damage to your pet’s body while scratching or digging is trimming its nails.

As discussed above, there are several reasons why your pet is digging. There are also different methods to deal with every reason. Despite all the measures, if you are unable to stop your pet’s digging habit, it is time to consult a vet.

Aapt Dubey
Aapt Dubey

Aapt Dubey, a devoted canine enthusiast and experienced dog Owner, brings boundless passion to our team. With a heart full of love for our four-legged friends, Aapt is dedicated to sharing insights on dog care, behavior, and training to make every pup's life happier and healthier at

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