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How to Stop Your Dog from Digging Holes: Proven Methods That Work

Why Do Dogs Dig Holes

Dogs are well known for their love of digging holes. Countless cartoons show a dog burying toys in the yard. After all, digging holes is a natural behavior for a dog. Digging helps dogs relieve energy, find food, and dig dens.

To attempt to stop your dog from digging, you must understand why he wants to dig.

Instinctual Behavior

Digging is rooted far back in the ancestry of a dog. Today, wild dogs dig for many reasons. Digging in the ground can protect a dog from extreme weather (both hot and cold). Furthermore, dogs will dig to create dens, find or hide food, or find water. Your dog may still dig to protect himself from poor weather conditions. Also, digging can create a nice spot to lay or hide toys. On hot days, dogs will dig into the dirt to find a cool place to lay. Generally speaking, the dirt underneath is much cooler than the surface. 

Boredom or Lack of Exercise

Digging is also a way for a dog to burn off energy. Without proper engagement or exercise, your dog will entertain himself. Most of the time, your dog will find ways to entertain himself in destructive ways. If left outside without stimulation, your dog may turn to digging to alleviate his boredom.

Anxiety or Stress

Dogs may also dig when they are stressed or anxious. Just like boredom, digging can harness energy and help burn it off. Digging can be a way to escape a stressful environment.

Identifying Your Dog's Digging Triggers

As seen above, dogs can dig for many reasons. Stress, boredom, and anxiety may trigger your dog to start digging. Now that we know the potential causes, we can discuss how to identify these triggers in your dog.


Dogs need exercise and stimulation to stay healthy (and avoid destruction). If your dog begins digging after extended periods alone, boredom is likely the cause. As an owner, you are responsible for ensuring your dog receives enough exercise. Additionally, you can provide interactive toys when you need to leave.

Hunting Instincts

Some dogs are bred to hunt for rodents in the ground. If your dog senses these rodents in the ground, he may activate these instincts to find the prey. You may need to address the rodent issue or give your dog a specific area to dig.


In extreme heat or cold, your dog may dig to adjust to the weather. Provide cool areas to lay for your dog in the heat. Moreover, you need to give your dog adequate shelter from cold weather.


Dogs may dig when they are anxious or stressed. If your dog is digging due to anxiety, you may need to address the underlying issue and provide calming activities or training to help them feel more secure.

Breed Traits

As stated previously, some dogs were bred to dig. Furthermore, some breeds are just more likely to dig than others. Terriers are more inclined to dig. 

Training Your Dog Not to Dig

Reward-Based Training

Positive reinforcement is an excellent way to train your dog in many skills, including controlling his digging. Rewards can be praise, treats, or playtime. Over time, your dog will learn that repeating this behavior will result in a good thing.

If your dog begins to dig, interrupt the behavior. You want this to be simple with a “no” and redirection of his focus. Try to be consistent with your dog. That is the best way to train him not to dig. Good behavior means rewards.

Distraction Techniques

Another method to stop your dog from digging is distraction. For dogs prone to digging, you can provide a digging-safe area for your dog. This will redirect the behavior to a spot that you accept.

You can provide stimulating toys or activities to aid with boredom or stress digging. 

You must provide your dog with proper exercise. If you see your dog digging, you can offer a game of fetch or go on a walk. Both activities lead to a happier dog and one less likely to dig.

Using Deterrents

Natural Deterrents

If positive reinforcement and distraction fail, you can also try some deterrents. There are natural remedies that are safe for your dog but will deter his digging.

Generally speaking, dogs do not like the smell of citrus. Placing orange or lemon peels where your dog likes to dig will deter him from digging in that area. They will naturally decompose and are safe for the environment.

Just like citrus, dogs do not like the smell of coffee grounds. Sprinkling coffee grounds will deter digging. Finally, you can lay chicken wire over areas you do not wish your dog to dig. The chicken wire will make digging impossible and very uncomfortable on his claws.

Commercial Deterrents

Commercial deterrents on the market may help you with your digging problem. These products are safe for your dog but may help you as you train.

Like citrus and coffee grounds, some sprays will give your dog a distaste for digging. Simply spray them in areas you wish your dog to avoid digging.

Many dog owners have found ultrasonic devices to be incredibly successful. These devices emit a high-pitched sound that is unpleasant for dogs but is too high for the human ear. When a dog hears it, he will generally stop what he is doing.

Finally, you can try bitter apple spray. Bitter apple is an excellent tool to deter biting, chewing, and digging. Dogs hate the taste of it and will avoid items that taste like it.

All dogs are different. What works for one dog may be different from the solution for another. You should try several options before you curb digging.

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