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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November 16, 2016 Flag

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

A dog laying on the carpet.

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April 14, 2009 Flag

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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July 27, 2010 Flag

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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November 8, 2011 Flag

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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January 18, 2007 Flag

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

Related Content(article continues below)

Photo of a puppy digging.

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June 5, 2010 Flag

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

By Don

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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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May 5, 2009 Flag

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

By oldladyrules from Hampton, IA

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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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April 17, 2009 Flag

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, 2010 Flag

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.

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April 17, 2009 Flag

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, 2009 Flag

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, 2008 Flag

Q: My newly adopted dogs have made a mockery of the lawn and garden in my back yard. Besides rocks, what can I use that is bug free and safe that will keep them from dragging mud in my house and deter them from digging up my flowers?

Jennieb from Pt. Pleasant, NJ

A: Jennieb,

Congratulations on your new companions! The first thing you need to consider is why your new canines are making a mockery of your lawn? Dogs dig for a variety of reasons. Are they bored? Are they acting out an instinct to dig out prey? Are they feeling confined or not getting enough exercise? Are they seeking out cool places to lie down? Any measures you take are likely to be unsuccessful for long unless you establish the reason driving their behavior.

They'll simply channel the digging energy into something else, like chewing-or worse. If you have the space, why not designate an area in the garden just for them to dig up? Dig up a small area and fill it with sand instead of dirt. Locate it as far away from the house as possible and their paws will have plenty of time to unload the sand in your grass before reaching the door to come inside. Reward them for using it by burying their favorite toys and food treats in it.

For areas around flowers, you can lay down chicken wire and clip openings around plants. Cover the wire slightly with soil to hide it. If they have spots they seem to favor over and over, try this recipe:

Mince the garlic, onions and jalapenos and combine them with the other ingredients. Let everything marinate in a container overnight, then sprinkle it over problems areas.

Above all, as their pack leader, make sure you let them know what your expectations are for their behavior.

Ellen

Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com

More Answers:

Dog Feces

This doesn't sound pleasant but my son used this method on his dog and it worked for him. Wherever his dog would start to dig, he put some of his dog's own feces in the ground. It took some time but the dog did eventually stop digging. Some dogs will dig more than others. I have read that if you can't stop your dog, is to let them have an area of their own using a sandbox. Make a game of it by burying their toys in the sand so they get to dig.

By mkymlp

Chicken Wire

When our dog used to dig around the fence, we buried chicken wire all around the edge of the fence. We put it only about an inch underground and when she dug, she didn't get anywhere so she stopped digging.

By Kathy in Colorado

Don't Use Mothballs

I've heard that people use moth balls, but moth balls are poisonous, so DO NOT go that route! I've also heard that you can sprinkle pepper flakes or spray with pepper spray, which also keeps bugs away.

By Manson

Answers:

Keeping Dogs from Digging

White pepper or Japanese wasabi horseradish. Place plenty of either in the area where the dogs are digging. If you catch them at it, sprinkle the pepper on their noses. I have a Lab who was a HUGE digger, and this worked like a charm. The wasabi also works for chewers. (08/30/2007)

By Ally

Keeping Dogs from Digging

This sounds gross but dog poo works! P.S. It will fertilize those flowers also---win win situation:) (08/31/2007)

By Lori

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March 19, 2008 Flag

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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