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Lawn Care with Pets: How to Keep a Dog From Digging

How to Keep Dog from Digging

Large or small, active or couch potatoes, dogs dig. It’s built into their genes. Yet even as “normal” as digging is, coming home to a yard that looks like a bomb went off or a minefield was placed can make you question whether dog ownership is worth it.  The good news for your four-legged family member is that we’ve got some tips on how to keep Fido from destroying your lawn.

Lawn Care With Pets: How to Keep Dog From Digging

Gone are the days when the family pet needs to dig a hole to hide food supplies, find food or camp out against bad weather. The family dog digs for a number of reasons or for no reason at all–sometimes it’s just fun.


Dogs that are left alone outside for a long period of time with nothing to do will find something to do and it usually is not productive. Digging is a form of entertainment because it’s physical activity and has an end result.

Looking for a cool place to get out of the heat 

The dog days of summer are called that for a reason–it’s hot and steamy in Texas and the American Southwest during the summer. Dogs left outside for long stretches of time with no way of cooling off will look for ways to beat the heat, like digging a hole close to the foundation of the house, where the foundation and fresh dirt are cooler than the air temperature.

Separation anxiety 

If you leave your dog in the yard while you’re at work, the minute you leave, they may start digging. They’re afraid they will never see you again. Think of your family dog as a toddler left at daycare for the first time. They cry for a while, may act out, but eventually will settle down. Unfortunately for dogs, they don’t have the reasoning ability to figure out you’re coming back, so settling down can only happen if they act out by digging.

Not enough physical activity 

Larger dogs especially need quite a bit of physical activity, between one and three hours each day. If your family pet doesn’t have enough physical outlets for his or her energy, the focus will shift to other ways of getting tired, one way or another. This might even mean hiding their own treasure. We’ve all seen cartoons and read stories of dogs digging holes to hide their favorite toy or a bone.

Chasing something, real or imaginary

Dogs looking for trouble will certainly find it, whether it’s real or imagined. Your dog will see the grass move and, if they’re in the right frame of mind, will go over to inspect, and the digging can begin from there.

How to stop your dog from digging

There’s not one absolute solution for stopping your dog from digging, just as there is no one absolute reason behind it. But here are some handy suggestions to try, depending on what you find the mix of problems to be:

  • Provide your dog with a cool spot out of the sun, with plenty of drinkable, fresh water. A covered cement porch or a dog house under shade work well to not only give your pet some respite from the Texas summers, but also to give him or her a place to sleep that’s cool, instead of a hole dug next to the house.
  • Give your dog something to do. There are a wide variety of toys and chews on the market to give your dog something to do while you’re away. Fill a food puzzle toy with peanut butter and freeze it, then give it to your dog. He will get more enjoyment longer, as the peanut butter melts and he figures out ways of getting it out. Breed/size-appropriate chews and bones can also give several hours of interesting play time. This works well for separation anxiety and boredom, especially.
  • Create a “dig” space. Mark an area of your yard with stones or a low fence, remove the grass and fill the space with sand and loose dirt.  Train your dog to use that area for digging, instead of in your rose garden or next to your foundation. Hide treats, bones and toys in the dig space to add variety and interest to your dog’s digging time. If you catch your dog digging outside the dig space, correct him by putting him in the dig space and dig around yourself for a minute or two to remind him.
  • Schedule adequate time for play and physical activity. Make sure you’re spending enough time playing with your dog and giving him the right amount of physical activity. Larger breeds need more exercise and activity, so make sure you’re meeting your dog’s requirements. Regular walking, outdoor play and even agility training will not only meet your dog’s physical requirements but will also challenge his mind, keeping him occupied while you’re gone.
  • Install barriers. If there is a certain part of your yard that you want to keep Fido out of, consider adding hardscaping, such as walls, short fences or large boulders. For your vegetable garden, raised beds, bird netting and tomato cages will deter some dogs from destroying your hard work. You may also add in plants that deter your dog from entering a space. These species might include roses, tall grasses, hedges, thick shrubs or succulents. Do your research to make sure that any plant species you select aren’t poisonous to your pup.
  • Sprinkle powders, granules or sprays in areas dogs are digging. Natural and commercially-available products can be applied in areas where dogs are digging to deter them. Ammonia, vinegar and citrus-based sprays can function as a dog repellent, although you’ll need to careful about how much you apply, since some of these ingredients can damage your plants.

Digging may be natural for dogs, but it doesn’t have to turn your yard into a battle zone. Tackle the problem of digging early, with proper training and the right environment to ensure your dog stays healthy, happy and entertained while you’re gone.

Call Your Local Lawn Care Professionals

With the help of the experts at ABC Home & Commercial, you can design a yard and garden area that includes areas especially for your dog, such as spaces to keep a dog house that’s relatively cool and protected during the heat of the day, as well as “dig” areas and other means of keeping your yard and your family pet safe, secure and happy. Some thought and planning can create outdoor spaces which are both beautiful for your family to enjoy and also functional for your furry family member.

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