How to Keep Your Dog From Digging & Chewing

by Jon Mohrman
A digging and chewing dog probably needs more attention and stimulation.

A digging and chewing dog probably needs more attention and stimulation.

Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

Dogs who dig up the yard may be after moles or other animals, they may be trying to dig a hole to cool off in or to escape through, or something else may be going on. Dogs who chew excessively might have parasites, an itchy skin condition, an injury, cognitive dysfunction or another problem. But if your dog both digs and chews, boredom, too little stimulation, anxiety, stress or other emotional upset is probably to blame. Still, have your vet check your pet just in case the chewing does stem from a health problem.

Step 1

Provide your dog with new toys, including puzzle toys. These allow your pet to amuse herself when she's not getting attention. Keep a few outside and a few inside so your dog can find stimulation outside without digging and inside without resorting to chewing. Rotate toys so your dog doesn't tire of them and so something new and exciting comes along every few days.

Step 2

Take your dog for more walks and on more trips to a dog park or other suitable large recreation area, as she likely needs more physical activity. If you don't have time, hire a professional dog walker or get a friend or family member to handle this responsibility.

Step 3

Play with your dog actively every day, or find someone who can if you're unable to. Fetch, tug-of-war or just running around the yard together are beneficial. They provide stimulation, attention and an outlet for pent-up energy that may otherwise go toward digging and chewing.

Step 4

Enroll your dog in a doggie daycare or a dog class so she can get more activity and socialization with different people and other canines. The change of scene will do her good too.

Step 5

Consider whether there have been any significant changes to your dog's environment or lifestyle. Such changes can cause anxiety and stress that lead to digging and other destructive acts, as well as chewing, biting and other self-mutilating behavior. Dietary changes, schedule changes, rearranged furniture and other alterations to what's familiar may be to blame; undo them if at all possible. If you've introduced another animal into the home or made other changes you can't undo, consult your vet or a dog behaviorist to help your dog cope.

Step 6

Apply a safe, strong-scented deterrent to the area where your dog digs or chews. Vinegar and cayenne pepper work well. You can use it heavily in the yard, but apply it minimally on your pet, and never on or near her face. For the yard, ammonia and citrus are other options, but don't put these on your dog.

Step 7

Fence off the area of your yard where your dog digs if it comes to it. A decorative fence around your garden can be a nice touch that helps. If you don't want a visible addition to the yard or if you doubt a fence will keep your dog out, bury a large area of chicken wire just beneath the surface of the dirt.

An Item You Will Need

  • Dog toys

Tip

  • Some dogs, like terriers, are born and bred to dig. In these instances, it's not necessarily in your pet's best interest to prevent her from digging. Rather than yielding your entire yard, create a pit where she's free to dig all she wants. Define it with rope, bricks, garden planks, a low fence or other boundaries. If your dog digs elsewhere, clap loudly to interrupt her and lead her directly into her digging area. When she digs there, offer praise and a treat, and she'll quickly learn where she can and can't dig.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Jon Mohrman has been a writer and editor for more than seven years. He specializes in food, travel and health topics. He attended the University of Pittsburgh for English literature and San Francisco State University for creative writing.

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