Digging is a natural instinct for many dogs, who may be entertaining themselves, hunting or trying to get comfortable. Digging in a designated area of the yard is okay, but if your pup is leaving holes around your yard, it's bound to become an unattractive nuisance. Get to the root of what’s behind the digging behavior and give your pooch some alternatives.
Your dog may be trying to catch critters when he digs; he might be after bugs, rodents or other ground-dwelling creatures through his digging efforts. Check the surrounding area for signs of moles, voles, chipmunks, snake holes, or rabbit or ground squirrel burrows. Humanely trap and release the creatures or block up their tunnels so they don't drive your dog crazy. Don't use any type of poison or trap that could potentially be dangerous to your dog.
Trying to Escape
A dog who is bored, lonely or trying to get to a member of the opposite sex may dig furiously at the ground, particularly if contained behind a gate or fence. Spaying or neutering your dog can help reduce this roaming tendency. Don't leave your dog outside and unattended for long periods of time. Fortify an enclosure by burying rocks along the perimeter of the gate or fence, burying fence posts or wire fencing into the ground or placing chicken wire along the perimeter to prevent escape.
Some dog breeds, in particular terriers, are natural diggers; for them, going to town in the dirt is a driving activity. Give such pups their own special designated digging areas, like sandboxes or patches of ground with shallow, loose dirt. Bury dog toys or appropriate playthings for them to find, and reward your dog when he digs in the appropriate areas. Discourage digging elsewhere by commanding "no dig" and moving your pup to the appropriate yard patch.
Boredom and Anxiety
Furious digging can be prompted by boredom or separation anxiety. Spend time with your dog by playing fetch, going for walks and engaging in other physical activity that will tire him out. Give him a kibble-filled toy to occupy his time when you're not around. Don't punish a dog for digging, which will only make him fear you and dig when you’re not watching.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.