How to Deal With Your Dog’s Incessant Digging

How to Deal With Your Dog’s Incessant Digging
Photo: Sjogger, Shutterstock
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A dog that likes to dig can pretty quickly destroy your yard. Here’s how to fix those holes (as well as a few ideas for stopping your dog from digging in the first place).

How to fill in holes your dog digs

The first thing to know is that you shouldn’t just push the dug-out dirt back into the hole. You probably wouldn’t be able to do this anyway, as dogs that dig typically make a huge mess by kicking dirt everywhere.

Instead, you’ll need to bring in topsoil and, if you have grass, seed and a sod patch. Family Handyman suggests these steps for repairing dog-dug holes:

  • Fill the hole with topsoil, water, and add just enough soil to be at the same level as the ground.
  • Add seed, following the instructions on the bag, and water.
  • Top off with soil as needed to below ground level, with the gap equal to the thickness of your sod patch.
  • Roll out the sod over the hole, and cut the edges to fit.
  • Remove the sod and shovel out the hole as needed so the sod patch will sit flush with the surrounding ground.
  • Put the sod in place and water it daily until it takes root.

How to get your dog to stop digging

Of course, you’ll be doing this endlessly if you don’t address the underlying reason your dog is digging holes in the first place. Dogs may dig up your yard for a number of reasons:

  • They’re bored and need entertainment or a job to do.
  • They were bred to dig.
  • They are searching for prey, like burrowing animals or pests.
  • They’re hot (or cold).
  • They’re trying to escape after or away from something.
  • They’re seeking attention.

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It may be hard to figure out the root of the problem at first, but there are certain patterns and behaviours that can help you narrow it down. For example, your dog may be prey hunting if they dig primarily in one spot, around tree roots, or in a path pattern. If they lay down in their holes, they may be seeking protection from the heat. Dogs left alone for an extended time may be more likely to dig for entertainment or attention.

How you stop the digging depends on the underlying cause, but in general, look first for what your dog might need, like a toy or shade or water. Frequent walks, minimising unsupervised time and engaging your dog with tricks or commands can help, too. Punishing your dog generally doesn’t. And if you’re ferreting out pests, be sure to avoid toxic products that your dog could also ingest.

The internet is mixed on the strategy of filling holes with poop to deter your dog from digging in the same spot again. Most dogs won’t go after their own poop, but some might.

Finally, if the digging continues, you may be able to train your dog to dig in a designated area — a pit filled with soil or sand and your dog’s toys. Reward them when they use their digging pit instead of other parts of your yard.

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