How to Make a Puppy Stop Digging

Three Methods:Treating Specific Digging BehaviorsBuilding a Dog Digging PitInstalling Dog-Proof Fencing

When puppies dig, it can be annoying and even destructive. Once the cause of the behavior is found, however, they can usually be trained to stop the habit. Since puppies are young, it can be easier to adjust their behavior. With the right combination of preventative measures and conditioning, you will be able to help your puppy control its digging habit.

Method 1
Treating Specific Digging Behaviors

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    Redirect your dog when it digs for fun. Dogs may dig purely for entertainment.[1] You may notice your puppy digging along with other play behavior, such as running around and jumping. This can be the most difficult type of digging behavior to prevent, since it is so rewarding to your puppy. However, you can:
    • Offer your puppy a dedicated digging area.
    • Erect fencing to deter your puppy’s digging habits.
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    Make sure that your puppy is comfortable. Dogs may dig to find cooler (or warmer) and more comfortable places to lay.[2][3][4] In hot weather, dirt below the surface will be cooler than at the surface (this is especially true in shaded areas such as under trees), while in cool weather it will be warmer. To reduce this type of digging behavior:
    • Make sure that your puppy has access to a shaded or covered area, such as a dog house.
    • You can also provide your puppy a shallow wading pool to keep cool.
    • When it is especially hot, you may want to allow your puppy access to the indoors and air conditioning.
    • If your puppy is cold, offer it a blanket, insulated dog house, or some time indoors.
    • If your puppy digs to find a more comfortable place to lay, offer it a dog bed or other soft surface.
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    Reduce your puppy’s stress. Dogs may dig to express anxiety, such as when they are separated from their owners.[5] You can help your puppy get over separation anxiety in order to stop its digging habit and reduce its stress level.[6]
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    Prevent your puppy from burying treats and toys. Dogs may dig in order to bury “valuables.”[7] The wild ancestors of dogs would bury food so that they could return to it later. Your puppy may express this instinct by burying food, toys, treats, and other objects. To discourage your dog from digging for this reason:
    • Don’t give your puppy treats it won’t finish right away.
    • Remove treats and store them or throw them away if your puppy doesn’t finish them right away. Seek professional help if you need it.
    • If you give your puppy a digging pit, it can learn to happily bury toys and other objects without destroying your yard.
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    Reduce your puppy’s boredom. Your puppy may dig if it is bored. If your puppy is left alone outside for long periods, or has no toys or other things to play with outside, it may turn to digging for entertainment.[8] This behavior can usually be corrected easily, by giving your puppy more to do.
    • Make sure to walk your puppy at least twice a day; it needs plenty of exercise and stimulation. If your puppy feels confined in a pen, yard, or other area, it may dig to try and escape.[9][10][11]
    • Play games with your puppy frequently, such as throwing a ball or frisbee for it to fetch.
    • Give your puppy plenty of toys to play with outside, and change these frequently to keep it interested.
    • Teaching your puppy new tricks can also keep it active. There may even be dog training classes in your area for the two of you to enjoy.
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    Control prey animals. Dogs may dig to find prey, such as moles, rabbits, and badgers.[12][13] The best solution is to humanely trap and remove these animals. Contact a humane animal control service for assistance.
    • You can also make your yard unattractive to these animals.[14] For example, if you have chipmunks running rampant in your yard, surround it with plant-free gravel and remove wood or rock piles.[15] Contact professional help if you need it.
    • Avoid using poisons or other dangerous methods to control unwanted animal residents in your yard, as these may harm your puppy as well.

Method 2
Building a Dog Digging Pit

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    Set aside a dedicated digging location for your puppy. If your puppy has its own play area or sandbox, it can practice its digging instincts without ruining your yard.[16] Try dividing your yard into cared-for areas (lawns, gardens, etc.), and a place where your puppy is free to dig.[17]
    • You can use a commercial sandbox, or simply cover the designated area with loose soil or sand.
    • Use bricks, stones, sticks, or fencing to help your puppy recognize the digging area, and keep it from making holes in other places.[18]
    • If your puppy has been digging up specific areas of your yard, place rocks or chicken wire over them while it gets used to the digging pit. These deterrents will discourage your puppy from digging in those spots.
    • Some experts recommend burying dog feces in an area where a dog digs.[19] Their theory suggests that dogs do not like to dig in the presence of feces. However, this will only discourage your puppy from digging in a specific area, and will not stop the general behavior.
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    Encourage your puppy to dig in its pit.[20] Take some of your puppy’s favorite treats or toys and bury them in its designated dig area. Your puppy will enjoy uncovering these treasures, and begin to associate that area (instead of your lawn, flower bed, etc.) with digging.
    • If your puppy has trouble understanding, make sure it sees you bury the treat or toy first. Alternatively, you can bury one and then uncover it yourself while your puppy watches.
    • Once your puppy starts to get used to the digging area, try putting new treats in it, or bury them deeper. This will keep your puppy interested.
    • Whenever your puppy digs in its area like it is supposed to, give it a treat. The positive reinforcement will encourage the behavior you want.
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    Troubleshoot if your puppy won’t dig like it is supposed to. If your puppy still has a problem with digging in areas you don’t want it to, even after trying to train it to use a designated digging area, then you will need to devote closer attention to the problem.[21] Watch your puppy as it plays outside. When you see it start to dig in an area that you don’t want it to, clap your hands sharply to get its attention. Then, immediately lead it over to the dig area and encourage it to dig there instead.
    • Be persistent. It may take some time to adjust your puppy’s behavior.

Method 3
Installing Dog-Proof Fencing

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    Consider installing fencing to deter your puppy’s digging. A physical barrier can either prevent your puppy from digging in a particular area, or make it difficult enough that your puppy loses interest.[22] You can either simply install garden fencing in sections of your yard that you do not want your puppy to enter (and possibly dig in), or you can construct a more dog-proof fencing system.
    • Motion-activated fencing lines that make a noise or spray water when something crosses them are another option for keeping your puppy out of a certain area. However, these may be costly, and may not prevent your puppy from digging in the ground around them.
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    Gather the supplies you will need. Fences can be constructed of various materials. To create a fencing system that is safe enough to not hurt your puppy while still discouraging its digging habit, however, you will need to gather specific materials from a hardware, garden, or home supply store:[23]
    • Chicken wire
    • Chain-link fence
    • Large rocks
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    Lay the fence foundation. Start by burying chicken wire along the line of where where you want the fence to be.[24] This will be the actual material to stop your puppy from digging in the ground; it is strong enough that your puppy can’t dig through it, but soft enough that your puppy won’t be hurt if it tries. Do make sure, however, to bend back the edges of the chicken wire.
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    Lay large rocks on top of the chicken wire.[25] These rocks will weigh the chicken wire down so that your puppy will not be able to dig it up easily. Bury the rocks partially in the dirt, so that you will know where the chicken wire is located.
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    Install the chain link fence.[26] Make sure that the bottom of the chain link fence is buried one or two feet below the surface. Installing the fence to this depth will ensure that your puppy cannot dig out easily.
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    Lay more chicken wire on the ground.[27] Roll out more chicken wire on the ground along the fence line; you anchor it to the bottom of the chain link fence. This layer of chicken wire will make it unattractive as a digging area to your puppy.


  • Contact your veterinarian if you can’t get your puppy’s digging under control. Your vet can review your puppy’s case and help determine if there is a health- or stress-related cause to your puppy’s digging, and can help you find a solution.

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Categories: Dog Obedience