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Training a Dog to Stop Digging

Did you just discover the hole where your flowers used to be? There are many reasons a dog likes to dig including breed, exploration, attention seeking, or wildlife in your garden. This is a guide about training a dog to stop digging.
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By 3 found this helpful
April 14, 2009

To stop your dog digging in your garden beds, put citronella oil into a spray bottle and spray the area. Dogs hate it.

By Lorimay from Perth Western Australia

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April 6, 20100 found this helpful

We have large dogs who love to dig - think I'll try this. Thanks!

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By 5 found this helpful
July 27, 2010

I have 3 dogs and when I planted a shrub or a tree, the dogs would go to the new plantings and start digging it up. I started to leave the dogs indoors while I planted, so they could not see what I was doing. This did help some. But I still got holes next to the big planted items.

I still plant my shrubs and trees the recommended way, but now when I get the hole 3/4 of the way filled, I put dog poop in the hole (you don't need much) and then continue to fill the hole the rest of the way up. The dogs leave it alone. They don't like digging up their own poop. If dogs dig along a fence line put poop in before you fill the hole and they will leave that spot alone.

By xintexas from San Antonio, TX

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Anonymous
July 27, 20100 found this helpful

This sounds like such a strange idea but it makes a bunch of sense! Good tip and thanks for sharing it!

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By 5 found this helpful
November 8, 2011

I have mentioned this before and it does work. This is will not keep a dog from digging, but it will keep them from digging in the same spot or spots. It sounds a little unorthodox, but it is a quick and simple solution.

When you find holes that your dog has been digging in, drop some of their own poo into the hole, and then fill it up with dirt. Dogs don't like digging up their own poo. I have been doing this for years with all the dogs I have owned, and it has always worked for me.

By xintexas from San Antonio, TX

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November 16, 20160 found this helpful

A dog laying on the carpet.

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This is a guide about dog digging in carpet. It is frustrating to try prevent your dog from digging in the carpet.

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January 18, 20070 found this helpful

Question:

How do I get my 3 month old Rottweiler puppy to stop digging up my flower beds?

Heather from South Africa

Answer:

Heather,
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This young age is the perfect time to start teaching your puppy that you're the "leader of the pack" and as such, you have certain expectations regarding the behavior of pack members. Rule #1: digging is only done in designated areas! For these first few months, you're going to have to supervise your puppy while out in the yard. Use his/her digging as an opportunity to modify behavior. I'm a huge fan of Cesar Millan-a.k.a The Dog Whisperer. He uses what he describes as calm, assertive energy to direct a dog's mind and body away from undesirable behaviors. It's all about energy. Control the mind and body and you control the behavior. Cesar maintains that in the wild, dogs need rules, boundaries and limitations in order to survive as a stable and organized pack. Every dog knows its position within the pack and what is expected of him. This pack mentality is one of the strongest natural motivators in dogs and is an effective training tool for humans.

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In the wild, members of the pack learn early on that there are undesirable consequences for certain behaviors. These consequences usually come (swiftly) in the form of a bite from pack leaders. Since you are your puppy's pack leader, when your puppy starts digging, you can mimic this "bite" by turning your hand into a "teeth-like" claw and firmly touching the side of your puppy's neck while directing him away from your flowerbeds. You can use your voice to emphasize your point, but asserting yourself with a firm, physical touch is more important. Consistency is key, but this form of dog psychology really works. Don't punish him/her, just assert your authority. If you have the room, set aside a sandy spot in the corner of the yard just for puppy play and direct him/her to this area. Other physical deterrents include laying down wire mesh or plastic soda bottles filled with water or inserting wire coat hangers into the soil to create a physical barrier. Whatever you do, don't use any chemical deterrents-especially those formulated to keep out wildlife. They seldom work and they can be harmful to young animals if ingested. Some gardeners have also had luck temporarily "poopy trapping" the area with the dog's own feces. For more information on Cesar Millan and his Dog Psychology Center, visit www.dogpsychologycenter.com

Good luck!
Ellen

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By guest (Guest Post)
October 7, 20060 found this helpful

Sprinkle red pepper around the area and in the flower beds won't hurt them, but all critters will stay away from it after getting into it once.

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
June 5, 2010

I would like to know how to stop my dog from digging in my flower bed.

By Don

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
June 6, 20100 found this helpful

<em>Sunday

June 6th, 2010</em>

<dd>The decorative garden fences you can purchase at places like Home Depot or Lowes can sometimes help. If you set them up around the flowerbeds with stones or edging to keep it safe from being dug up.</dd>

<center>Solti</center>

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June 7, 20100 found this helpful

Put his poop in the holes. Black pepper sometimes works too.

Pat

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June 8, 20100 found this helpful

I put a fence up around my garden, but around trees I have put pinecones and chili pepper on top of them. I don't know that the pepper had much effect, but they have avoided the pinecones religiously. My mother-in-law put some pavers around hers, and just separating her garden from the rest of the yard helped a little. I recommend the pinecones, though.

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By 0 found this helpful
May 5, 2009

My outside dog is digging up my yard. What can I do to stop this?

By oldladyrules from Hampton, IA

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
Anonymous
May 8, 20090 found this helpful

Bury some of the dog's poop in the holes where he digs. That very often stops it cold.

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May 12, 20090 found this helpful

You have an 'outside dog' in Iowa? Your dog is bored, so wear him out with exercise and he'll be good. I put my dog in the back of my pickup truck in the canopy and run up and down the highway, and she works herself into a frenzy back there 'chasing' cars in the oncoming lane. that is, when I'm not walking her! You do bring this dog indoors at night? into a crate maybe? I'm imagining this dog in winter, how could any dog survive it?

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May 13, 20090 found this helpful

My shih tzu started digging like crazy every time he was outside. I did ALL of the "tricks" others have listed, absolutely no success. That's because there were moles/voles in the ground! Once I trapped the critters (6 in one day), no more digging. At one time, I had a Pomeranian that did the same thing, and yes there were moles at that place too. These are not aggressive/mean dogs, they just don't like critters underground!

The poop in the digging area may work for some dogs, but also remember, your pet licks its paws!

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By 0 found this helpful
April 17, 2009

Our chihuahuas kept digging the dirt up around their pen (a chain link fence). We found that sprinkling chili pepper around the edges of the fence stopped them from doing it.

Reapply after it rains for best results.

By Joanne from Lugoff, SC

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April 17, 20090 found this helpful

Have you tried Moth Balls? They really stink! Put a few around the OUTER edge of the fence! It will also keep out cats and rodents!

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April 19, 20090 found this helpful

I wouldn't suggest using the moth balls. They are poisonous. When it rains won't they melt to some degree and contaminate the soil which the dog may ingest by some chance? Also I wouldn't suggest chili pepper or anything of that nature. It seems a bit inhumane. That must be terribly painful in the nasal passage when inhaled. There must be a better way.

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April 20, 20090 found this helpful

We have moles that tunnel in our yard and two large dogs that will dig for them! What our dog trainer told us to do was to scoop some of their poop and put it in the hole. They won't go near it! If you are filling the hole, put the poop towards the top and toss a little dirt over it so it's not so gross! My dogs now only dig every once in a while! Good Luck!

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July 27, 20100 found this helpful

By Catherine Forman

Now that you've planted your garden, you need to make sure your pets don't dig it up!

One important question is: why are your pets digging? Are they bored? Does something smell funny over there? Or is it just instinct?

If your pet is bored, he can easily become destructive. Make sure that when your pet is in the yard, he has plenty of entertainment -- a stuffed toy, a special treat, a ball, anything that will keep him engaged. Your pets need a lot of human interaction and activities to be happy.

Your dog may be digging out of instinct. My Nerman will dig himself a shallow hole on a warm day and lay in it. I guess the dirt is softer and cooler than the hard, sun-baked ground. Nerman also likes to bury his rawhides if he isn't going to eat them. And some pets will scuff up a bit of dirt and grass to cover over their bathroom spots.

A dog or cat who is digging out of instinct will be harder to distract away from the dirt in your garden. There are a few ways you can handle this:

1. Restrict access to your gardens and flower beds. Put up a fence to keep the pets out.

2. Offer a substitute digging area. Your dog or cat may love a small sandbox! You can seed the new digging area with special toys or treats; finding the goodies will teach your pet that digging in that spot is a positive experience.

3. Try a deterrent spray, or plant things that don't smell good to your pets. Your local pet store will probably carry a bitter apple spray -- just be sure to reapply after each rain. Planting citronella will keep the cats out of your garden but may tempt your dogs to try and cover up the plant's smell with their own scent.

4. Your local garden store may sell mats with flexible plastic spines (I've seen them called "Scat Mats" in catalogues). The spines make it very uncomfortable for paws to walk or dig but don't actually hurt your pets.

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

June 28, 20100 found this helpful


By Catherine Forman

Now that you've planted your garden, you need to make sure your pets don't dig it up!

One important question is: why are your pets digging? Are they bored? Does something smell funny over there? Or is it just instinct?

If your pet is bored, he can easily become destructive. Make sure that when your pet is in the yard, he has plenty of entertainment -- a stuffed toy, a special treat, a ball, anything that will keep him engaged. Your pets need a lot of human interaction and activities to be happy.

Your dog may be digging out of instinct. My Nerman will dig himself a shallow hole on a warm day and lay in it. I guess the dirt is softer and cooler than the hard, sun-baked ground. Nerman also likes to bury his rawhides if he isn't going to eat them. And some pets will scuff up a bit of dirt and grass to cover over their bathroom spots.

A dog or cat who is digging out of instinct will be harder to distract away from the dirt in your garden. There are a few ways you can handle this:

1. Restrict access to your gardens and flower beds. Put up a fence to keep the pets out.

2. Offer a substitute digging area. Your dog or cat may love a small sandbox! You can seed the new digging area with special toys or treats; finding the goodies will teach your pet that digging in that spot is a positive experience.

3. Try a deterrent spray, or plant things that don't smell good to your pets. Your local pet store will probably carry a bitter apple spray -- just be sure to reapply after each rain. Planting citronella will keep the cats out of your garden but may tempt your dogs to try and cover up the plant's smell with their own scent.

4. Your local garden store may sell mats with flexible plastic spines (I've seen them called "Scat Mats" in catalogues). The spines make it very uncomfortable for paws to walk or dig but don't actually hurt your pets.

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

April 17, 20090 found this helpful

My dog Sammy likes digging holes in our backyard and he won't stop. We have about thirty holes in our backyard now. Any advice on how to get him to stop?

Priscilla from Seattle

Answers:

Keeping Dogs from Digging

My dog used to dig and dig to the point I couldn't stand it or keep up filling holes. My first idea was to find out WHY he did it. I found out there were moles in the ground! I had to rid my yard of moles, or let him dig til he had "gotten" them all.

Yes, the poop in holes helped, but not enough. You may want to take a sample of your soil to your local Ag office and have it tested. Maybe he smells something good?

Allowing him to dig, is only reinforcing or okaying the bad habit. You may need to stay outside with him and correct him every time he starts to dig. (03/12/2009)

By xsnos2

Keeping Dogs from Digging - daily walks

Lots of dogs start digging from boredom, pent up energy and lack of mental stimulation. Are you walking your dog enough? Do you spend playtime with them, not just put them in the yard and leave alone. Taking your dog for a daily walk is like reading a newspaper for a human. While your dog gets exercise he will also smell scents from other dogs and people on your walking route. Consistency lets a dog know he has time to investigate outside his confinement during "his" scheduled time and satisfies his curiosity. My dog was abused and had behavioral issues when I got her as a pup. Putting her on a scheduled walk 2x daily gave her a calming personality and more obedience. (03/12/2009)

By racers7

Keeping Dogs from Digging

Get an inexpensive sandbox with a lid. Fill it with clean sand and hide toys in it. When the dogs go out take the lid off and let them dig away to uncover new "treasures". I saw this on a television show about misbehaving dogs. (03/16/2009)

By zynfandel

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March 10, 20090 found this helpful

Any suggestions on how to keep my miniature schnauzer from digging in the yard? It looks likes the moon, all craters! Thank you.

Karen from Charleston, SC

Keeping Dogs from Digging

Answers:

Keeping Dogs from Digging

We use the dog poop theory too. It does work but when it rains they start back up. We even have a place set up for him to dig at. We hide treats there sometimes and toys to keep him going there. We just keep filling in the holes and putting poop there. (11/09/2008)

By Angela

Keeping Dogs from Digging

The dog poop idea does work, but only if it doesn't rain. LOL. We also have a spot for our dog to dig at. We hide treats, bones and toys there to keep him interested. (11/09/2008)

By Angela74

Keeping Dogs from Digging

Use critter ritter from Home Depot. It works great. (11/09/2008)

By mark m

Keeping Dogs from Digging

My daughter had a beagle and a black lab! Jeez, those dogs made a mess!

Then, we finally gave them their own yard. She got a spot that was off the porch, cool under the deck in the summer and with dog houses and inside shelter in the winter. They had about 20' by 20' to run, dig, make a mess and have fun. They couldn't see anyone on the street or in the neighbors places, so the barking was reduced greatly.

The fencing was recycled from a house being torn down, and the rest of the yard was transformed into the yard for the humans. If you have the room, this might help. Good Luck! (11/10/2008)

By Poor But Proud

Keeping Dogs from Digging

Purchase ALUM (not aluminum). Spread it in digging area.
It's got a nasty taste, but harmless. Good luck! (11/11/2008)

By eviesav

Keeping Dogs from Digging

Give your pet a stout kennel of 6' x 4' with a rubber mat flooring. These are made for and are tough enough for horses and cattle. Your dog won't get sores and won't harm it with his digging action. Some kennels come with rain-proof covers while others have enough room for a dog house in them.

Dogs also love to sit on top of a dog house. Put the dog house in the middle of the kennel, away from the sides or ends of the kennel to prevent him from using it as a stepping stone to jump over the kennel walls. Better yet, take your dog for a walk on a leash when he has to go out. You'll both get exercise and your garden and yard won't suffer from a bored dog digging. (11/14/2008)

By north790

Keeping Dogs from Digging

If the dog goes back to the same hole(s) to dig, try scooping up some of his poop and putting it in the hole(s). Most dogs are naturally tidy and don't want to soil their paws with "nasty" stuff. (11/15/2008)

By Yogi's Mom

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November 9, 20080 found this helpful

My newly adopted dogs have made a mockery of the lawn and garden in my back yard.

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February 1, 20050 found this helpful
Click to read more ideas from older posts on ThriftyFun.
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March 19, 20080 found this helpful

I have a four month old puppy that has started digging holes in the lawn. He's not digging a lot but he does have about six small ones now.

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