Many are the dog parents who have gardens pockmarked with holes, industriously put there by their canine companions. There are more than a few frustrated dog parents whose precious gardens have been decimated by the constant digging and scratching, and just as many worried pooch parents are afraid that their best buddy will dig their way out under the fence.
If you’re one of these pawrents, you’ve come to the right place. We’re about to dig into (see what we did there?) why dogs dig and excavate (ok, we’ll stop), the reasons behind this doggie behavior, and what you can do about it.
Why do dogs dig?
First off, what gives? Why do dogs dig? The good news is that, according to research, digging is an entirely normal canine behavior. Some breeds, like terriers, are more prone to digging than others. These breeds are usually tenacious and likely to chase their prey as long as they need to - even into tunnels in the earth.
Dogs dig for several reasons. These are common reasons for dog digging:
- Chasing small critters like moles and mice;
- Digging a shallow hole in the ground provides a cool place to lay on a hot day;
- Pregnant female dogs will dig as part of their pre-birth denning instinct;
- Dogs often bury items like bones that they wish to keep safe from being stolen;
- It’s an excellent vent for pent-up frustration;
- Scent-marking territory;
- It’s a bunch of fun.
Read more: Pica in Dogs: What Is It And How to Treat It?
What can you do to stop your dog from digging?
So, you’ve reached your limit; your lush lawn is a thing of the past, and your plants and flowers have all been savagely dug up. You’re having sleepless nights because you’re worried that Fido will finally dig their way out from under the fence and make a break for it.
You’ll need to address the reason your dog is digging in the first place.
Some dogs dig out of boredom and lack of any other stimulation. Make sure you’re walking your pal at least twice daily and keeping them challenged with fun toys. Throw a few balls so your dog can chase a bit. Puzzle toys are also a great way to keep your pup mentally stimulated and challenged.
Bored dogs also benefit from training, so maybe revisit those puppy classes, or try teaching Fido a new trick or two.
Does your dog lie in the holes that they dig? Are these holes usually in the shade or near the base of buildings? This could mean your pup may be looking for comfort or protection. Make sure your dog has a shelter that they enjoy and find comfortable. This might also signal that they are spending loads of time outdoors and would maybe benefit from coming inside more.
Is your dog digging under the fence? This doesn’t only mean that your dog is trying to get out; it might mean that your dog wants something on the other side or is afraid and wants to get away. Often, dogs trying to get out are unneutered male dogs.
The best way to stop this kind of behavior is to put a barrier in place to discourage digging. Burying the base of the fence deep in the ground to prevent digging or make digging uncomfortable by using a chain link fence on the ground near the place where the puppy digs.
However you tackle this issue, the thing to remember is that shouting at your dog is not going to help. In fact, if your dog is looking for attention, when you react, the dog is getting what they want.
NEVER, and we can’t stress this enough, punish your dog for digging. Yelling and shouting can cause your dog to feel anxious and afraid, and in the end, it’s unlikely to result in behavior change. What will lead to a change in behavior is praising desirable behaviors instead.
You know the saying that if you can’t beat them, join them? Well, we're not suggesting you begin digging in your garden, but we are suggesting that maybe you should give up trying to stop the behavior and instead channel it appropriately.
Offer your dog a designated digging zone where they can dig to their heart’s content. Whenever your dog digs in this area, praise and reward them. Whenever they dig in inappropriate places, use a stern ‘No dig!’ command and redirect them to where they’re allowed to dig.
With enough time and consistency, your dog will soon learn where they can and cannot dig.
Home remedies for digging dogs
The following can also be used to discourage dig digging:
- Don’t allow your dog to take treats and toys outside if they like to bury these.
- Partially bury smooth rocks in places you know your dog likes to dig.
- Strong natural scents like citrus peel, vinegar, or cayenne pepper can put your dog off an area.
- Plant thorny shrubs or rose bushes in areas of concern.
Digging is a very normal (if sometimes a little annoying) canine behavior. But what happens when your dog starts displaying some concerning behavior or symptoms? Do you rush to the vet and risk paying for a visit that could have been avoided? Or do you wait it out and potentially jeopardize a worsening of your best pal’s health?
This is the eternal plight of owning a pet. Are you being overly cautious? Or are you being too relaxed?
Thanks to Petcube’s Online Vet service, the good news is that you can have a team of trained veterinarians available at the ping of a cellphone. That’s a team of professionals to ask about anything related to your pet’s health. 24/7. For just $20 a month.
Ask the team absolutely anything related to your pet and get answers in real-time. You can even add photos and videos of your concerns to help the team to better help you. It’s really that simple.
What is the best home remedy to stop dogs from digging?
Many natural home ingredients can be used to deter a dog from digging. One of the best home remedies for dog digging is cayenne pepper. Sprinkle a small amount of this where your dog digs the most.
Other home remedies for dogs digging include vinegar and citrus peel.
Why is my dog digging in my bed? Why is my dog digging in the couch?
Your dog is digging your bed or couch to mark their territory. Dogs have scent glands on their paws. This scent basically tells other dogs that you’re taken.
Your dog might also dig in the bed, on a blanket, or on the couch to make it more comfortable. It’s the dog equivalent of fluffing a pillow.
How to keep a dog from digging under the fence?
The best way to stop your dog from digging under the fence is to find out why they are doing it in the first place. It could be that they want to follow you when you leave for work. It could be that the pretty lady dog down the street is in heat, and your unneutered male dog wants to…ahem…make their move. It could even be that there’s a noise or a smell that is frightening your dog, and he is trying to get away.
Petcube's interactive dog camera can help you with that by recording what your doggo is doing when you're away from home, that way you know what specifically triggers this digging-everything-around reaction from them.
Resolve these issues, and you’ll solve the digging problem. Otherwise, you can try to discourage your dog from digging under the fence by placing some kind of physical barrier to prevent this. Some rocks, a thorny shrub, or any obstruction will make it difficult or unpleasant for your dog to dig under the fence.
Why is my dog digging at the carpet?
Your dog is digging the carpet for one of a few reasons. Partly, this is your dog’s way of creating a soft and comfy place to sleep.
It’s also possibly a case of transferring scent and claiming that spot from other dogs or cats in the house.
This may also indicate your dog is bored and looking for something to play with.
Why is my dog digging holes all of a sudden?
If your dog has suddenly developed a digging addiction, this is your dog’s way of telling you that they might feel lonely or bored. If your dog spends long periods alone, digging holes is how they will entertain themselves without a playmate or a fun toy.
Which breeds are commonly digging dogs?
- Terriers – Airedale Terriers, Fox Terriers, Jack Russel Terrier, Bedlington Terrier;
- Border collies;
- Siberian Huskies;
- Miniature Schnauzers.
How to keep a dog from digging in the flower beds?
The best way to keep your dog from digging up your flower beds is to provide some kind of barrier like a fence. While this is a simple and effective solution, we realize it might not be the most aesthetically pleasing.
You can try to repel your pup with strong-smelling home remedies like citrus peel, cayenne pepper, or vinegar.