How to Stop Dogs From Digging Up Tree Roots

Tree roots are a stimulating challenge for your dog.
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Digging is a great form of exercise for your dog, but that’s no comfort to you when your garden is destroyed. Dogs like to dig tree roots because there’s a challenge in it; tree roots are like buried sticks. They provide their own reward. Fortunately you can stop this easily with a combination of prevention and cure. By making it difficult for your dog to access his preferred digging spot and by creating an aversion to that area, you are sure to have your lawn looking lush and attractive once again.


Walk your dog regularly. Excess energy is one of the most common causes of destructive behaviors in dogs. In fact, noted dog trainer Cesar Milan believes a tired dog almost always is a well behaved dog.

Give your dog lots of toys to play with. Boredom is another common cause of destructive behavior. With no way to channel their mental energy, dogs inevitably make their own fun. Make sure he has a variety to choose from, otherwise he’ll soon get bored again.

Leash your dog while in the garden until he is trained not to dig. This gives you physical control over his movement, enabling you to prevent him physically from digging up those roots. This is a temporary fix to use until you’re confident Lucky knows digging up the tree roots is not allowed. If you’d prefer to give your dog free roaming rights during the correction stage, put a chicken wire fence around the base of any trees he digs.


Put Lucky on a leash and take him into the garden. Give him lots of verbal praise to begin with. By giving him verbal praise now, you can remove that praise if he tries to get to his favorite digging spot. This is called negative punishment. If you’re a parent, you've probably already used negative punishment. Taking away TV privileges for bad behavior, for example, is negative punishment.

Allow Lucky to explore. If he pulls toward the tree, go with him, but as soon as he gets within 5 feet of the tree, cease the praise. By doing this, you lay the foundations for an aversion to the tree. Over time, Lucky will learn that when he goes near the tree, the verbal praise he was enjoying gets taken away. You don’t need to teach him to leave the tree roots alone; just teach him that being near the tree isn't good for him.

Guide Lucky away using the leash and walk him away. By guiding him away, you distract him from his urge to dig. Repeat this process two or three times a day. With eventual repetition, Lucky will develop a natural aversion to the tree. Combined with regular exercise and plenty of appropriate stimulation in the form of toys and play, Lucky gradually will choose to leave those tree roots alone.

Items You Will Need

  • Leash
  • Toys
  • Chicken wire