How to stop dogs from digging

How to stop dogs from digging

In our Healthy Active Pet community, we recently had a comment thread around how to stop dogs from digging.

And it turns out that how to stop dogs digging was a really common problem that many dog owners have.

So, we thought we would ask our resident canine specialist to give us her feedback on the subject and we have also included some of the advice the community shared with us too.

How to stop dogs digging

Although it can be very frustrating when a dog digs, it is important to remember that digging is a normal instinctive behaviour for most dogs.

Dogs will generally dig for a particular reason, identifying the motive to why your dog digs is the first step to addressing the problem and implementing strategies to tackle the underlying cause.

Some of the reasons why are dog might dig include:

 Boredom

 Playing

 Instinct

 Trying to escape

 Seeking protection

 Release of energy

Dogs can start digging if they’re needs are not being met. Ensuring your dog is getting sufficient exercise, such as walking your dog daily, can help to prevent a range of behavioural problems.

Some dogs will dig if they are lonely or require attention, it is important to spend time playing and interacting with your dog every day.

Providing your dog with active toys and chew toys, such as Kong filled toys with food or treats, will keep your dog busy and entertained.

Rotating toys will help to keep things interesting for your dog.

Providing your dog with a raw bone a couple of times a week will also help keep them occupied for a good length of time.

It is important to introduce raw bones gradually to your dog’s diet and the bones should be large enough that they cannot swallow or fit the whole bone in their mouth. Learn about bones and what is safe to feed your dog here

Lack of appropriate shelter can be another contributor to why your dog is digging.

Dogs will dig in hot weather to lie in the cool dirt. They may also dig to provide themselves shelter from cold, wind or rain.

How to deal with digging

Providing an alternative ‘acceptable’ digging area to your dog could eliminate unwanted digging behaviours.

Choose an area of your yard which is okay for your dog to dig.

To encourage them to use this ‘acceptable’ digging zone, make the area attractive to your dog by burying chew toys for them to discover and reward your dog with treats and praise if they use the spot.

If your dog begins to dig in an unacceptable area, encourage them back to the ‘acceptable’ area and when they start digging praise them.

You can also make unacceptable digging areas unattractive to your dog by placing rocks in the area or fences around it.

Digging to escape

If your dog is digging along the fence line, this might be an indication that they are trying to escape.

Dogs will try to escape for several reasons, such as separation anxiety or looking for company.

You will need to figure out why your dog is trying to escape and try to remove these incentives by providing them with an environment that is safe and appealing place and that your dog’s needs are being met.

Always supervise your dog when they are outside and take preventative measures to counteract digging around the fence line, such as burying your fence a few feet into the ground.

Digging to cool down

A dog’s coat can protect them from both the heat and cold weather, however, when a dog does need to cool down, they will sometimes dig to cool their underbelly.

Provide your dog with plenty of fresh water and shade if they spend a considerable amount of time outdoors, limiting your dog’s time outside on hot days


Dogs which lack stimulation may be inclined to dig. Supervise your dog when outdoors and provide them with a toy to keep them busy.

If your dog digs in one or two spots you can discourage this behaviour by placing something in these spots such as chicken wire or rocks.


Some dogs will dig because they simply find it fun to do so. If this is the case, you can give your dog a place to dig by creating a sandbox where they are allowed to dig and release their natural need to do so.

Things to avoid

Avoid punishing your dog when they dig as this will not solve the underlying issue and could worsen the behaviour by provoking fear or anxiety.

Avoid using fertilisers which are attractive to your dog, such as blood and bone.

If your dog’s needs are met and the recommended strategies don’t solve the digging behaviour, limit your dog’s time outdoors and supervise them during toilet breaks.

You should consult a veterinary behavioural specialist.

Advice from dogs owners in the Healthy Active Pet Community

Shannon says, "A good way that doesn't rely on scare/discomfort tactics, is creating a dig spot. Depending on the size of the dog, a half clam shell pool filled with dirt/sand is ideal. Hide some toys/treats, in it and use positive guidance to reinforce that's where they did."

Sandy says, " Buy a sandpit hide treats in it and train the dog to dig in it instead it’s natural behaviour so instead of stopping encourage it but in a controlled spot instead. Worked for all my dogs"

Jo says, "A lot of great advice here already 🙂 but digging might be a breed specific need for your dog, so a sand pit at home is a fantastic idea, but also going to places and letting them dig regularly is another great outlet if you don't have room for a sand pit at home"

You can also join our private community here

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