HOW TO STOP A DOG FROM DIGGING

Spring is in the air! Snow is melted, trees are waking from their slumber, and Spring flowers are peeking through the soil. The soft ground is just right for gardening. Your dog agrees and he can't wait to dig up that soft, fresh earth! Will your dog make like an excavator and destroy your beautiful yard and garden before Summer? Not if you follow these tips on how to stop a dog from digging!

Understand Why Dogs Dig To Learn How To Stop A Dog From Digging


Before we get into how to stop your dog from digging, let's talk about WHY dogs like to dig in the dirt so much. 

Reasons Why Dogs Like To Dig In The Dirt


🐾 The main reason why dogs dig in the ground is that it's a natural, instinctive dog behavior.  Digging dates back to dogs wolf ancestral days when wolves needed to dig for hunting purposes. Wolves often had to dig to seek out small prey for food. They would bury leftover food or bones from their hunt, hiding it from other predators, so they could return for another meal later.  This behavior has carried through to today's domestic dogs. Some domestic dog breeds are more prone to digging than others.

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How To Stop A Dog From Digging. Icy enjoying her Dig Pit. 


🐾 Digging is intentionally part of some domestic dog breeds genetic makeup. Certain dogs were bred by humans specifically to dig out vermin, keeping farms and other dwellings free of pests that might destroy crops, and other property.  Terriers, for example, are champion diggers.  The name Terrier comes from the word Terra, meaning earth so it's no surprise they were born to dig! 

This intentional breeding strengthened the natural digging instinct of certain dog breeds, for a specifically to benefit humans.  To stop this type of dog from digging requires a lot more effort, because their digging instinct is so strong.

🐾 Even for dogs not bred for the purpose of eliminating pests from the property, the smell and sound of mice, rats, gophers, moles and other small critters will often excite almost any breed of dog, small or large, compelling the dog to dig in garden beds to capture the critter.  That's why so many stuffed dog toys are made in the form of furry little critters!

🐾 Some dogs will dig a wide, shallow hole simply to get relief from the heat on a hot day.  My Siberian Husky, Icy, does that a lot.  I finally bought her a Cool Mat to lie on for those hot Summer days. She loves it!

🐾 Dogs often dig holes to bury a favorite toy or chew stick, hiding it somewhere safe where they can come back for it later.  

🐾 Some dogs dig out of sheer boredom and loneliness. They just need more mental or physical stimulation!  Such stimulation should be provided before a dog's digging becomes an ingrained habit.

🐾 Some dogs have issues with anxiety and digging offers some relief. I had a foster dog, a Chihuahua named Buttercup, who suffered from severe anxiety. Not only did she dig holes in my yard to hide in, she "dug" indoors as well. She tried to dig out of her crate, she dug into the blanket I gave her, and even dug into the carpet!  For Buttercup, the digging was a byproduct of her anxiety, so she needed to first be treated for her anxiety, rather than a digging problem.

🐾 Dogs dig to escape a yard or kennel. There can be a lot of reasons for this; boredom, fear, or they just want to escape to look for their family members if they've gone out and left the dog alone in the yard.

🐾 Many dogs dig simply because it's fun and it feels sooo good!


How To Stop My Dog From Digging



Now that you know this type of behavior is natural and can be very strong in certain breeds, lets talk about how you can get your dog to stop digging. If not stop the digging completely, at lease reduce how much your dog digs and where he digs.  

Remember that your dog is not being "bad" or misbehaving when he digs holes in the yard, he is just following his natural instinct and being a dog! Dogs do not deserve to be yelled at or punished in any way for digging mulch or digging in the flower beds. It's a natural behavior, but it is a behavior that can be redirected and curtailed with a little effort and thought on your part.

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How To Stop A Dog From Digging Up Your Yard. Icy relaxing in the yard


I am no stranger to my dog digging up the yard, my Siberian Husky Icy loves to dig!  She can dig a tunnel faster than you can say "Wanna treat?"  When she was almost a year old her digging became a real issue. She dug holes everywhere, our yard looked like a minefield!  I read articles and talked to trainers and other dog owners about it and they had a lot of advice on how to stop my dog's digging. Some of their home remedies for how to stop a dog from digging were:


Natural Deterrents To Stop A Dog From Digging 



🐕 Bitter sprays. Bitter spray is a great natural deterrent for chewing, and can also deter dogs from digging in a certain area or digging up plants or other objects. I've used bitter spray both indoors and outside to keep my dogs away from plants, shrubs and other things I want them to stay away from.  If your dog is digging in a relatively small area, you can spray that area with bitter spray. You may need to do it frequently at first, especially outdoors, since the scent and taste of it fades out. Eventually, your dog probably won't want to dig, or even hang out, in that area.  If the area is large however, read on...

🐕 Bury your dog's poop in places she is targeting for digging. It should make it unpleasant for your dog to dig where her poop is!  Honestly, this didn't work so well for me. It didn't prevent my dog from digging, it actually just made a big, stinky mess!  

🐕 Bury large rocks where your dog habitually digs. This didn't work well for us either, Icy started digging up the rocks & playing with them. Sometimes she even brought the dirty rocks into the house! Not cool Icy, not cool. LOL!

🐕 If your dog likes to dig holes and bury stuff, try this. When your dog is done playing with a toy, chew stick, shoe, or other item she likes to bury, rather than let her get to the point where she needs to hide it in the dirt, take it away yourself. Distract your dog momentarily, remove the item and put it away until next time. 

You don't want to upset your dog or make her feel she's being punished by having something taken away from her. Distract your dog, then discreetly take the item away, keeping it out of sight.  Remember to give it back at your next outdoor playtime!

🐕 If your dog is digging up the yard in order to get to small critters underground like mice or moles, you can have them humanely removed. Please don't kill these tiny critters! They deserve our compassion and respect.  Instead, consider having a pest control company humanely remove them from your yard and relocate them elsewhere. If you can remove the temptation, it may help curtail your dog's digging.


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How To Stop A Dog From Digging Under A Fence



🐕 If your dog is digging under the fence in your yard and escaping, that is very dangerous and needs to be stopped immediately.  We never leave our dogs in the yard unattended, it can be disastrous.  Not only will your dog look for inappropriate ways to relieve his boredom and loneliness, but someone can easily steal your dog from the yard when no-one is watching.  Pet theft has been increasing rapidly. More than 2 million pets are stolen every year in the U.S. !  If at all possible, please don't leave your dog alone in the yard.

🐕 If at times there is no way for you to keep your dog inside and he must be in the yard, try placing wire mesh at the bottom of the fence. Bury wire mesh several inches into the dirt along the bottom perimeter of the fence.  If you are installing new fencing, bury the fence a foot deep and place wire mesh and rocks at the bottom. 


I tried most of these dog digging remedies, but they didn't stop my determined dog's digging. Rather than give up in frustration, I decided to look for a way Icy could satisfy her need to dig without turning my yard into a mine field. 

After some research and thought, I finally found a way to let my dog dig to her heart's content without destroying our yard! It was about where I let her dig.  

By luring Icy to a DIY Dig Pit made just for her, I created a space where my dog was not only allowed to dig, but ultimately preferred to dig! This turned out to be the most effective method for me to get my dog to stop digging up the yard.

How did I do that? By giving my precious pooch a designated patch of earth she could call her very own.  I looked around the yard for a good place to make a Dig Pit for Icy.  I decided that the area behind my husband's shed was the perfect spot.  My dog could dig to her heart's content behind the shed, out of site.  Once I had chosen the perfect spot for Icy's Dig Pit, here's what I did:

🔨 I blocked off a 6' x 4' area for my DIY Dig Pit behind the shed. 

🔨 I loosened up the dirt to make it nice and inviting. Dogs seem to love freshly dug up dirt, which is probably why they love to dig up our flowers moments after we've planted them!

🔨 Now I  needed to let her know there was an exciting place to dig, just for her.  I took 2 or 3 of her favorite chew sticks and placed them into the ground, with about 2 inches sticking out of the dirt so she could easily find them.

🔨 I brought her over to the Dig Pit and showed her the first chew stick. It was so exciting for her, she had found buried treasure!  She found and scarfed down all the chew sticks in minutes. 

🔨 Over the next couple of days I continued to bury treats, rubber toys, and chew sticks in her Dig Pit once or twice a day.  She quickly learned that good stuff awaited her in the magical Dig Pit! She couldn't wait to get out there and see what treasures awaited her discovery. 

Before long, her preferred spot to dig became the Dig Pit, and soon after she never bothered to dig anywhere else in the yard. Why would she want to dig anywhere else when there was always something more exciting waiting for her in the Dig Pit?

I continued with the Dig Pit concept when we moved to two different houses. It was always so exciting for Icy to see what each new Dig Pit had in store for her.  Seeing Icy bound out the back door excitedly to explore what's waiting for her in the Dig Pit never gets old! She's happy, I'm happy.

Now you've got a great list of possible solutions to stop your dog from digging! Give it a try and see what works for you and your dog.

Leave us a comment and let us know what you think about these ideas. We LOVE hearing from you! 


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TIPS ON HOW TO PREVENT DOG THEFT

Since the COVID19 Pandemic, pet theft is on the rise. You don't have to be a victim, there are steps you can take to help prevent dog theft and keep your dog safe.

According to the AKC (American Kennel Club) pet theft statistics show that around 2 million pets are stolen each year in the U.S. Petfinder reports that only about 10% of stolen dogs are ever returned home. These are alarming statistics, the threat of pet theft is real!

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How To Prevent Dog Theft


Recently, pet parents were sent reeling after the brazen theft of Lady Gaga's French Bulldogs, Koji and Gustav. Her dog walker was walking the dogs at night when dognappers jumped out of a vehicle and grabbed 2 of her 3 Frenchies. A struggle ensued and the dog walker was shot by the dog thieves as he attempted to stop them. Thankfully he's making a good recovery and both dogs were returned unharmed. It's important to be aware that sometimes dognappers get violent!
UPDATE 5/2021: The thieves who stole Gaga's dogs were apprehended. 5 people were arrested and charged; the 3 people who committed the dognapping and shooting, and 2 who were accessories to the crime after the fact. The "good samaritan" who "found" the dogs and returned them to police was no good samaritan! She is a 50 year old woman involved in a relationship with the father of one of the 3 thieves. She is one of the five people criminally charged. Apparently, the thieves didn't know they were Lady Gaga's dogs, they just saw 3 high priced dogs and wanted to profit by stealing them! The dog walker, Ryan Fischer, had recovered from the shooting, but needed to be hospitalized again due to a collapsed lung related to the shooting. ABC News provided more details on this story.

The information below can help you keep your dog safe and prevent dog theft.

WHY SO MANY DOGS ARE BEING STOLEN AND HOW TO PREVENT DOG THEFT


Dogs are stolen for many reasons. Some of the reasons for dog theft are extremely unsavory, but many dognappers steal dogs purely for profit.  Pet thieves steal dogs and sell them to someone else to make money. This is known as "dog flipping". The thieves do so without a care as to the anguish it causes the family who has lost their precious dog, or to the pain it causes a dog who is ripped away from his loving home.

Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and small dogs such as Chihuahuas and Yorkies are some of the most commonly stolen dogs. But purebreds aren't the only dogs being stolen. Mixed breed dogs and cats are also being targeted by pet thieves. The opportunity to steal dogs easily and quickly provides an irresistible lure for dognappers.

Since the Pandemic, pet theft has been increasing. People are spending much more time at home, resulting in an increased demand for dogs, cats and other companion animals.  People not only have more time to spend with a dog since they're home so much more, they are also looking for relief from the stress, loneliness, boredom and isolation that is a by-product of widespread lockdowns around the globe.  

The increase in demand has also increased the price of certain dog and cat breeds, which can also lead to the increase in pet theft.

Dog thieves are very aware of this trend and have been taking advantage of the increased demand for pets to make money by stealing them. They see an easy opportunity to profit from dog theft in a difficult economy.


KEEP YOUR DOG SAFE FROM PET THIEVES



🦴 As an 8 year animal shelter volunteer I can't stress this enough! Microchip your dog and be sure to keep your contact information up to date with the microchip company.  Pretty much every shelter or rescue will scan dogs for a microship upon intake. Veterinarians are likely to scan for a chip as well when someone brings in a newly adopted or purchased dog.

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Pet Theft Is On The Rise. These Tips Can Prevent Dog Theft 

My friend Kevin found his adorable puppy, Pepper in a parking lot. He was about 12 weeks old and didn't have a collar or microchip so the owner couldn't be located. That story had a happy ending for Pepper and for my friend, but I'm sure there was an owner somewhere that was missing Pepper.  If he'd had a microchip his owner could have been found right away.  A microchip helps positively identify your dog as belonging to you and help get him back home. 

🦴 Make sure your dog is wearing a collar with identification tags. Collars can break off, slip off, or be removed. This is why a microchip is so essential. You may also want to consider Tattooing your dog or using a GPS collar. However GPS collars can easily be removed by a dog thief.

🦴 Be wary of strangers who seem to have an unusually keen interest in your dog. If they ask questions like how much you paid for your dog, if your dog is spayed, where you live, and other invasive questions, be suspicious and disengage with them immediately.

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🦴 Spay and Neuter your dog.  A dog that isn't spayed or neutered can bring a dog thief even more money because that dog can be sold as breeding stock.

An unattended Dog Is A Recipe For Disaster


🦴 Never leave your dog in the front or back yard if you're not out there with her, it only takes a moment to steal a pet from the yard. Dog thieves may try to lure your pet to the fence or gate with food or a treat. If possible, make sure your dog isn't visible from the street when in the yard, tempting a dog thief, and keep gates locked if your dog will be outdoors.

🦴 Always keep your dog secured on a leash unless in a fenced in secure dog park. Never let your dog run loose in the neighborhood! 

🦴 Vary your dog walk routes and times of day. Even slight changes can make a big difference if a dog thief is lurking around, trying to predict your routine.

🦴 Never leave your dog tied up outside a store or other establishment. It takes seconds for a dog thief to unhook your dog's leash and make off with him.  

When I was first training my Husky Icy, part of the training was to put our dog in a Sit/Wait and go inside Starbucks while our dog waited for us outside. After hearing about dog thefts in our city and how easy it is to steal an unattended dog I immediately stopped doing that! 

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I never, ever leave my dogs anywhere unattended. Either me or my husband are always close by.

🦴 Many people use them but I am not a fan of dog doors. A neighbor of ours had a dog door for her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. While she was out one day thieves robbed the house, gaining access through the dog door.  

The thieves were teens and enlisted a younger brother to wiggle in through the dog door and unlock the back door so the rest of them could get inside. Thank goodness she had taken her dog out with her that day!

🦴 Never ask strangers to watch your dog while you step away. They may seem nice, but you don't really know who they are or if they can be trusted with your precious dog. I've seen people leave their dog at Starbucks on outdoor patios, asking a total stranger to watch the dog while they run inside - Don't do it!

🦴 Always remain alert at the dog park and keep your eye on your dog. Don’t stand around chatting it up with other dog owners to the point where you lose focus on your dog. Be especially alert if your dog gets close to the dog park gate. It only takes seconds for someone to grab your dog at the gate and make off with her, so pay attention to your dog at all times at the dog park!

Travelers and Dog Theft


🦴 If you take a road trip with your dog, don’t leave him alone in the car while you stop for food, gas, or a bathroom break.  My husband and I never leave the dogs alone in the car, we take turns using rest stops. We either bring food with us in the car or stop at drive-through restaurants along the way on road trips. 

🦴Try not to leave your dog alone in hotel rooms either, a dog thief may be waiting for you to leave your pet alone in the room.  Research dog friendly parks, beaches, restaurants and attractions so you can bring the dog with you wherever you are going.


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Prevent Dog Theft While Traveling

🦴 Be sure your dog has a very strong Recall response. If someone is stealing your dog, a solid recall command might prompt her to wiggle out of a dog thief’s grip enough to run back to you.

I know how unpleasant it is to think of someone stealing your dog, but it's important to be aware and take safety precautions to prevent dog theft. Don't be a victim of pet theft! Please follow these dog safety tips on how to stop dog theft from happening to you and your precious pooch.  Be well and stay safe my friends! 

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