How to Reprimand a Dog for Digging a Hole in Your Backyard

More playtime can limit unwanted digging.
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It's in a dog's nature to dig, and some seem to love tearing up delicate shrub roots and pawing at the fence line. Dogs often dig to let out energy, so offer more exercise to a digging dog as a first course of action. Reprimand and redirect digging behavior.

Step 1

Start putting your pooch on a leash whenever you let him outside, so you can reprimand the digging behavior more easily.

Step 2

Stand outside with your pet and watch for digging behavior. Keep one of his favorite dog toys with you.

Step 3

Say "Leave It" in a firm tone when your pup starts to dig. Jerk the leash lightly to get the dog's attention.

Step 4

Initiate play with the dog toy. If your dog loves tug-of-war, present the object and try to get him to play. If your pooch prefers fetching balls, get his attention and throw a ball. Your goal here is to interrupt the undesired behavior, as you just did, and redirect your pup to more appropriate play behavior.

Step 5

Praise your dog for playing with you.

Step 6

Keep a soda can or tin can filled with pennies outside. If your dog starts to dig, throw the can near him. Dogs dislike the noise, so this can act as a deterrent. Try this if your dog does not respond to the "Leave It" command.

Step 7

Engage your dog in play behavior again. When he's distracted in play, he can't dig.


  • If your dog continues to dig, consider giving him one corner of the yard for digging so he can get his instinctive needs met. Otherwise, continue to reprimand and redirect his behavior.