How Do I Train My Dog To Stop Digging Holes?
It seems adorable at first when you see your four-legged friend dig holes in the yard. After all, it’s a showcase of their instinct carried over from their wild ancestors.
But then, as the days go by, the holes become bigger, more numerous, and a muddy mess! Your dog’s propensity and eventual addiction to digging could be triggered by numerous things, i.e., boredom, hiding toys or food, or a lack of attention.
If you’ve ever caught your dog digging holes when you were busy doing something else, then you know what we’re talking about.
Dogs will also dig to get to something that smells good, like a dead animal or other pet’s feces. And in some scenarios, your furry buddy may consume the dirt, leading to gastrointestinal issues.
So, as much as you love to see them play and bring out their inner wolf, you still want them to stop digging holes in your yard. But how?
Here are a few tips:
1. Keep them busy with something else.
You want to keep Fido occupied so that you don’t get bored and start digging holes. You’ve got a ton of options here, i.e., dog toys, food puzzles, feeders that release treats as they play with them, and more.
Another effective way to keep them busy is enrolling them in doggy daycare or agility training. If you’ve got a high-energy dog, this will help use up some of that extra energy.
2. Use a digging deterrent.
Yes, these things exist. It can be anything from a physical barrier like chicken wire to an olfactory deterrent like cayenne pepper. This works if your dog likes to dig in specific areas of the yard or if you have a limited area they can dig.
As the name suggests, the goal is to make the area less inviting for digging, so your dog will be discouraged from doing it.
Some proven deterrents include:
Roses and cacti are excellent choices. They work by
physically deterring your dog from going near the area.
This can be sprinkled on the ground or mixed with
water and sprayed on the area. The smell will bother your dog and
make them stay away.
You can buy this online or at a pet store. The scent of
predator urine will make your dog believe there is a predator in the
area and deter them from going near it.
This is a great option if you have a large area to
cover. You can set it up so that it goes off when your dog approaches
the area. The sound and movement will startle them and make them
This can be sprayed on the area or used in a diffuser. Dogs
hate the smell of citronella enough to distance themselves from the
Citrus has the same deterring effect as that citronella. You may
use citrus peels, essential oils, or even fresh fruits.
3. Come up with a designated digging area for your pup.
This is especially helpful if your dog loves to dig and you don’t want to deter them from doing something they enjoy.
All you need is to create a small sandbox where it’s okay for them to dig to their heart’s content.
It doesn’t have to be big, just big enough for them to do their business. The goal here is for this sandbox to have a minimal mess. It won’t serve its purpose if it becomes another muddy hole in the yard.
4. Consistency is the key to your training.
You must be consistent with your training if you want your dog to stop digging holes in the yard. It means being firm and not wavering when it comes to enforcing the rules.
Dogs will always find a way to be stubborn, but don’t let that stop you from training them. So, if you started using a digging deterrent, stick to it.
If you create a designated digging area, ensure they only dig there. And if you’re using positive reinforcement, be consistent with the rewards.
5. Always keep it cool.
You’re never achieving anything by yelling at your dog or getting mad at them. Not only will this make them scared of you, but they’ll also think you’re joining in on the fun.
Dogs thrive on positive reinforcement, so praise them and give them treats whenever they do something good. Punishing or physically correcting them will only make things worse.
6. Distract with exercise.
Sometimes, the only reason why your dog can’t seem to stop digging is that it needs an outlet for its energy. If that’s the case, then you should give them more exercise.
Dog exercise can be in the form of more frequent walks, playing fetch, or going to the dog park.
This will help use up all their excess energy and hopefully make them too tired to dig holes in the yard. You need to train your dog to stop digging holes if you don’t want a yard that looks more like the moon’s surface. It gets messier when the rain comes.
The key to stopping this habit is to address it on the get-go. You can’t afford to wait until your dog has already dug several holes. All you have to do is follow the tips above, and you’ll be frolicking in a hole-free yard again.
Updated: Feb 3, 2023
Originally Published: Nov 28 2022