Behavior - Digging

Do you have a dog who loves to dig? Are you wondering if it's possible to have a nice garden and dogs, too?

 When considering this problem, realize that digging is a powerful instinct in dogs. What options do you have?

 1. Direct digging to an acceptable spot and train the dog only to dig in this area.

You can direct the digging to a specific area in the yard. This requires a few weeks of supervision, and also "seeding" that area regularly with treats and toys to make it interesting for the dog to dig there. 

To teach dogs to use a specific area for digging, you have to supervise them outdoors at all times during the training process. You prepare their area, and "plant" treats and toys there. Actively encourage and praise them when they go to that area, and even more when they dig. When you find them digging elsewhere, say "No--Dig in your spot" (or whatever phrase you want to use, just keep that phrase consistently), lead the dog to the proper spot and praise there. Keep putting treats and toys in the ground at that area, to keep the dogs interested.

 2. Outdoor supervision.

You can supervise the dog at all times it's in the yard and redirect all digging into other activities (play with you or with toys, for example), but dogs left alone in a yard are likely to dig. 

You can try housing dogs indoors with the family, using a crate to keep the dog safe when you are asleep or not home. When the dog goes out, you watch her. End of digging problem. 



  1. Morgan,Rhea V. (2010) Small Animal Practice Client Handouts, Saunders, 2010. Print

  2.,  Client education resources.