How To Keep Your Pets From Digging

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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