How to Stop Your Dog from Digging
by Damien Andrews
Dogs love to dig. Some more than others. And no matter what, they always seem to dig where you don’t want them to. Whether it’s a hole under the fence to escape into the neighborhood, or a trench through your flower bed, it’s undesirable, and often very involved to repair. Take heart, you can stop your dog from digging in the places you don’t want it to.
Before we get to the surefire way to stop your dog from digging, let’s touch on ‘distracting’ your dog from digging. Some dogs get crazy with their digging because they have nothing else to do. They can make a backyard look like a prairie dog town. Think of it as a nervous habit. Sometimes, stopping your dog from digging can be as simple as giving it something else to do – something you find less destructive.
Get your dog a toy that is interactive and semi-indestructible, such as a tough plastic ball which rolls. Go outside and get him interested in playing with the ball. If you play with it, the dog will want to play with it. This might just be all you need to stop your canine from trying to be a backhoe.
Another great toy is a 24” long piece of 4” PVC pipe. It’s practically indestructible, rolls and makes noises when played with, and gives the dog several ways to grab it with its mouth. Dogs also like to try and hold it down with their front paws – which makes it extremely interactive. My dogs spend hours playing/fighting with their PVC pipes. Toys such as this may be all you need to stop your dog from digging.
While a dog digging in a flower bed is certainly undesirable, the worst digging a dog does is to escape a fenced yard. Here’s a guaranteed way to stop your dog from digging out under the fence and running away.
To positively stop your dog from digging tunnels under your fences, you’ll need a couple of things: Some plastic-coated metal clothes line and some tent stakes. Be sure to get the multi-strand wire – not solid wire. Multi-strand is much easier to work with. Both of these items are inexpensive and readily available at hardware and discount stores. For tools, you’ll want a heavy hammer (a ball peen hammer works fine), some wire cutters and some pliers.
You’ll be installing wire on the ground inside of your fenced area. You’ll want the wire inside the bottom of the fence between 6”-1*” depending on how large your dog is. The larger the dog, the further inside the fence the wire goes.
Go to a corner of the fence and partially sink a tent stake. Secure the wire to the top of the stake, beneath the bend, and drive the tent stake so the top is below the ground level. Now move down the inside of the fence about 15’. Again, partially sink a tent stake and secure the wire to it. Make sure the wire running between the stakes is taut. Again, drive the stake below ground. Repeat this process until you have done the entire fence line.
If you come to a driveway or sidewalk or other obstruction, cut the wire after the last tent stake, twist it tight to the top of the stake, and start again on the other side of the obstacle. When you first do this, the wire will be visible. That’s okay. It will utterly disappear under the grass over the next couple of weeks. Lawnmower blades and rotary weed cutters won’t get anywhere near it.
When the dog tries to dig out under the fence, its paws will rake across the taut plastic-coated wire – which the dog will not like at all. They will try several locations before learning that digging is futile. After they fail in several places over a short period of time, they’ll completely quit trying.
This same method can be used to stop your dog from digging in specific areas. You simply need to place tent stakes and wire as necessary to fit the configuration of the area you want protected. When my dog decided to start excavating a den underneath an outdoor spigot, I used one 120” piece of wire and two tent stakes. That stopped him from digging there immediately.
Don’t allow nuisance digging to lessen your enjoyment of your four-legged friend. It’s easy and inexpensive to stop your dog from digging where you don’t want it to.