Help! My Dog Keeps Digging in My Garden
Some dogs are natural-born diggers but there are ways to stop this unwanted behavior.
You’ve worked hard on your garden, picking weeds, preparing the soil, and planting flowers. It can be disheartening to see all of your hard work go to waste when Fido decides to dig.
Dogs dig for a wide range of reasons. Genetics play a key role in the temperament of dogs, making some breeds more likely to dig. The act of digging can also provide stress relief, cure boredom, and help pets deal with separation anxiety. In some cases, dogs will dig as a means to escape the yard.
Regardless of why your dog is digging in your garden, you’ll likely want to stop this behavior immediately. Check out these tips on how to stop your dog’s unwanted digging and keep your garden free of unsightly holes.
- Set Up a Deterrent
Sometimes the simplest thing you can do to prevent your dog from digging is to block the area. Consider installing a sturdy, flexible barrier, such as garden fencing, to prevent your dog from getting into the garden area. If you don’t like the look of fencing, you can create a deterrent with large boulders, rose bushes, or thorny shrubs.
- Create a Dig-Friendly Zone
Dogs often dig just for fun and in the right environment, digging can be a harmless activity. Consider setting up a designated area where your dog can dig without the worry of being reprimanded. Cover the digging area with loose soil or build a small sandbox. Bury dog toys as a signal to your dog that it is okay to dig there. If you catch your dog digging elsewhere, firmly and loudly say “No dig!”
- Offer a Cool Place to Relax
If you notice that your dog tends to dig only when the weather is hot, it may be because he’s trying to cool off. Digging and rolling around in the soil can help keep your dog cool when temperatures soar. If you’re dealing with this type of situation, redirect your dog to a shaded area, such as under a tree. If there is no natural shade in your yard, consider purchasing or building an all-weather doghouse.
- Get Enough Exercise
Digging is a common side effect of boredom. If your pup has a lot of excess energy to burn, he may find digging to be a pleasurable outlet. Try to help burn off your dog’s pent-up energy by ensuring that he gets enough exercise every day. Take your dog on walks at least twice per day and engage in interactive play, such as a frisbee. A treat dispenser can also help keep dogs busy and prevent destructive habits caused by boredom.
- Cover the Area with “Bad” Smells
Dogs have a naturally keen sense of smell. If there is a particular place in the garden that your dog likes to dig, consider covering the soil with a smelly ingredient that will cause your dog to stay away. Red cayenne pepper is an excellent example of a smell that most dogs do not like. After just one sniff, your dog will likely walk away.
- Limit Toys and Bones
Dogs can be quite territorial, especially when they live in multi-pet households. To prevent other animals in the home from stealing their stuff, dogs may bury them outdoors. To prevent this type of behavior, limit the number of toys and bones that you give your dog. With fewer possessions, your dog will be less likely to feel the need to hide the extras.
- Spray a Repellant
There are numerous commercial products on the market designed to deter dogs from digging. These sprays often contain natural herbal ingredients that will not harm your dog or your plants, such as garlic, clove, and thyme. If you don’t feel comfortable using an over-the-counter product, consider making your own homemade spray with ingredients like apple cider vinegar, citronella oil, or citrus fruit.
- Practice Training Prompts
Dogs are smart animals and can usually be trained to follow simple instructions. Simply teaching your dog “No!” can help deter unwanted digging behavior. If your dog is new to training, start with simple commands such as “stop,” “sit,” and “place.” Over time, you can introduce new commands that help you gain greater control over your dog’s behavior.
- Add Pointy Plants
If you have ever been stabbed by a cactus, you know how uncomfortable it can be. This same sensation can be experienced by a dog that jumps into a garden that has prickly plants. There are plenty of varieties of pointy plants to choose from, such as thorny rose plants which are grown in most locations in the U.S. Do your research to determine which plants are best for your location.
- Treat Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is a common problem in pets. This extreme attachment can cause a variety of issues, such as pacing, peeing or pooping in the house, barking and howling, chewing on furniture or other items, and digging in the yard. Treating separation anxiety requires pet owners to take a personalized approach. Some temporary solutions include the use of calming sprays or supplements. You can also try leaving an unwashed piece of your clothing at home so that your dog can experience the comfort of your smell.
Speak with a Professional
If all else fails, it may be time to speak with a professional. Start by discussing your concerns with your vet and rule out any medical conditions that could be contributing to the behavior. A professional pet trainer can often help limit or stop digging by teaching the dog how to follow the proper commands.