We love our dogs, but our yards don’t. Dogs dig up the lawn in a heartbeat, eager to bury a bone or chase a gopher, leaving gaping holes and piles of dirt.
Here’s how to keep your dog from digging up your yard. (If it’s your garden instead, here are tips on how to keep dogs out of your garden.)
1. Tire out your dog
A napping dog is not a digging dog, so exhaust your pet with regular walks and active play.
“Home owners with big yards think they can just open the back door and their dogs will be entertained,” says Tim Link, a dog expert and author of Wagging Tales.
“That’s boring for an animal,” says Link. “You have to mix it up. If a dog is stimulated, he’ll get into a lot less mischief.”
To activate your animal, try:
- Hiding a favorite indoor toy outdoors so he can hunt for it.
- Playing catch with a ball or Frisbee.
- Taking her on frequent walks.
- Setting up an agility course.
2. Offer a digging spot of his own
Dogs dig for thrills, for a cool place to lie down, and for a place to bury bones. It’s an instinctive behavior you can’t eliminate, but you can redirect it by building your pet a digging box.
It doesn’t have to be big – a shaded, 4-by-4-foot space will do. Fill it with sand, cat box filler, or wood chips. Then let your dog watch you bury a toy or treat in the box. When he goes after it, praise his efforts — dogs would rather be rewarded for digging in their box than scolded for digging in your garden.
3. Nix the bones
Instead of offering your dog a bone that he’ll want to hide in a hole, give your pet rawhide or veggie-based chews that he’ll eat rather than bury.
Also, buy your puppy a busy ball ($10-$15) that dispenses treats as he bats it around. It’s a challenge and exercise, which will keep your dog’s body and mind active.
4. Get rid of unwanted pests
Dogs often dig around fences and shrubs to hunt prey — such as rats, gophers, and moles. Beat him to the job by humanely getting rid of rodents. Don’t use poison to kill the critters, because it could kill your pet, too.
5. Keep your dog company
If you know your dog likes to dig or eat outdoors, don’t leave him unattended. Let him watch you plant your garden and explain what you’re doing and the behavior you expect.
Yep, your read that right.
Link says dogs understand and respond to human conversation, so long as it contains high praise and clear directions, and is followed by a reward for good behavior.
You might say, “Sebastian, you’re the best dog in the world, and I know you love to dig. But I don’t want you digging up the lawn and ruining our beautiful yard. Now, let’s get a treat.”