Stop your dog digging under fence
There are many reasons that contribute to your dog’s desire to dig. As a result the dog will suggest their own solutions: if your dog’s not getting enough exercise (generally speaking, at least forty-five minutes’ worth of vigorous walking per day), take him for more walks. If he’s bored, give him some toys and chews to play with during your absence, and wear him out before you leave so he spends most of the day snoozing.
An escape-artist dog might need to be crated, or at least kept inside the house where he’s less likely to be able to break free. For those dogs who just like to dig as a pastime in itself, though, here are a few basic tips for controlling inappropriate digging as much as is reasonably possible:
- Restrict your dog’s access. This is the most effective thing you can do: if he’s never in the yard without active supervision, there’s no opportunity for digging.
- Use natural deterrent. 99.9% of dogs will shy back, horrified, from the prospect of digging anywhere that there’s dog poop. Even the ones who like to eat poop (a condition known as coprophagia) generally won’t dig anywhere near it – it offends their basic, fastidious dislike of soiling their coat and paws.
- Use nature’s own wiles. If the digging is bothering you because it’s upsetting the more delicate blooms in your garden, plant hardier blossoms: preferably, those with deep roots and thorny defenses. Roses are ideal.
- A more time-consuming, but super-effective way of handling the issue: roll up the first inch or two of turf in your yard, and lay down chicken-wire underneath it. Your dog won’t know it’s there until he’s had a few tries at digging, but once he’s convinced himself that it’s pointless (which won’t take long), he’ll never dig in that yard again.
Accept your dog’s need for an outlet: give him a place to dig
If your dog is set on tunneling your yard into a grassless, crater-studded lunar landscape, but you’re equally determined to prevent this from happening at all costs, please take a moment to consider before embarking on a grueling and time-consuming preventative strategy.
Setting yourself the goal of eradicating all digging behavior, period, is pretty unrealistic: it’s not fair on you. You are setting yourself up for failure and it’s not really fair on your poor dog either. If he’s a true-blue digger, it’s just part of his personality, and he needs at least some opportunity to express that.
Allocate your dog its own space for digging
But a lawn and a dog don’t have to be mutually exclusive: the most humane and understanding thing for you to do in this case is simply to redirect his digging energy. You do this by allocating him an area where he’s allowed to dig as much as he pleases. Once this zone’s been established, you can make it crystal-clear that there’s to be absolutely no digging in the rest of the yard – and you can enforce your rules with a clear conscience, since you know your dog now has his own little corner of the world to turn upside down and inside out as he chooses.
But what if you don’t have a “spare corner” of the yard? What if the whole thing, grass, flowerbeds, and gravel path, is just too dear to your heart? That’s OK too – invest in a sandbox, which you can place anywhere in the garden. You can even make one yourself – the deeper, the better, obviously. Fill it with a mixture of sand and earth, and put some leaves or grass on top if you like – get your dog interested in it by having a scratch around yourself, until he gets the idea.
- Dog deterrent spray:Natural Dog Deterrent Spray
- Dog invisible electronic fence: Petsafe Wireless Pet Containment System
- Playpen or dog gate:Playsafe Pet Playard
Make sure the boundaries are clear
To make it clear to him that the sandbox is OK but that everywhere else is a no-dig zone, spend a little time supervising him. When he starts to dig in the box, you can encourage this by shallowly burying a few choice marrowbones in there, praise him energetically – and if he starts digging anywhere else, correct him straight away with an “Ah-ah-aaaah!” or “No!”.
Then, redirect him immediately to the sandbox, and dole out vociferous praise when digging recommences. To really clarify the lesson, give him a treat when digging gets underway in the sandbox – the close proximity between the correction (for digging out of the sandbox) and praise/reward for digging in the sandbox will ensure that your point strikes home.
For more information on recognizing and dealing with problematic behaviors like digging, chewing, barking, and aggression, check out Secrets to Dog Training. It’s a detailed how-to manual for the responsible owner, and is packed with all the information you’ll need for raising a healthy, happy, well-adjusted pooch: from problem behaviors to dog psychology to obedience work, Secrets to Dog Training has it covered. You can check out Secrets to Dog Training by clicking on the link below: