If you have a dog, there is a good chance that at some point or another you have had one or more holes in your yard, courtesy of your canine companion. Digging is not unusual behavior, but it can be indicative of an issue. Your dog may be digging because he is trying to burry something, or it may be hunting for a rodent or some critter; however, there are other reasons that could be of concern, such as boredom, attention-seeking, and as a means to comfort itself.

In order to correct the digging behavior, it is important to first find out why he is digging. If you can figure this out, you will have a much better chance for correcting the undesirable behavior, because you will be able to address the cause, as well as the behavior.

Digging Out of Boredom or to Expend Excess Energy

Your dog may simply be resorting to digging out of sheer boredom and attention-seeking. In such cases it is important to make sure the god is getting plenty of exercise, and spending quality time with you so that it does not have to dig to expend pent up energy.

Aside from giving your dog more attention, it is also important to withdraw affection and play when he does actually dig when you are present, and give him praise and lavish attention upon him when he is doing something neutral or something that you like. Punishment does not help the problem, and may even make it even worse as the alienation the dog will feel by being punished will result in more attention-seeking (possibly through digging).

As mentioned above, dogs get bored, and easily. So it is important to make sure they get plenty of mental and physical stimulation. Long daily walks (and preferably runs) are a great way to spend quality time with your dog, and provide him with an opportunity to exercise. If you have a back yard large enough for playing fetch, that is another activity in which you can engage to help your dog get a workout.

Discourage Digging

Discourage digging by and make your disapproval clear to him; this has to occur as the act of digging is happening—getting upset with your dog after the digging has stopped will not correct the behavior as the dog will not be able to associate your disapproval with the digging. Aside from discouragement, you can also make the act of digging more difficult and less fun, by fencing off the area where most digging occurs, or putting rocks or covering the area with other material to make digging more difficult, and less enticing.

Digging to Keep Cool

If you live in an especially hot climate, your dog may be digging in order to keep cool. This is accomplished by digging a hole, and then sitting in the cool soil. Pay attention to their digging behavior and see if this is indeed what he is doing. If that is the case, try and find ways to help him cool down without having to resort to digging.

Set Up a Digging Area

As mentioned earlier, digging is natural dog behavior, so it is unlikely that you will be able to completely stop the digging, especially if your dog is of a breed (i.e. Dachshund) that was designed to dig. What you can do, however, is provide a well demarcated digging area, and teach your dog to only dig there. With this approach you can allow your dog to do what comes naturally, while at the same time keep your yard from looking like Swiss cheese.