Dogs dig for many reasons so you should really try to figure out why. If your dog is digging in a shaded area or near a water source then he is probably just hot! Just like pigs cool off in the mud, dogs will cool off in the dirt. You need to make him a dog house in an area that is always shaded. If Fido is digging in only one or two spots consistently, then you might want to thank your dog because it looks like you have small animals under your lawn like a mole. He must be digging after them when they come out of there hole. If the digging is in multiple spots with no consistency then your dog is digging for fun and/or is bored! This means that there is no way for you to be able to tell where Fido is going to dig.
Start out by going to Costco and by a giant tub of cayenne pepper. Liberally apply it in all of his favorite digging spots as well as mixing it a little in the loose dirt areas. If he likes to dig under the fence line, make sure you put it all the way around. If this doesn’t do it, make a combined effort with the pepper and add moth balls just under the surface of normal digging spots, around plants, etc.
If that still doesn’t do it you are going to have to collect Fido’s feces for a few days and mix it in with the soil filling where he likes to dig most and has made soft holes. They don’t like the smell of there own poo so this should work, but it is a short term solution unless you want to bury poo forever.
This idea is best when used at the beginning of a weekend where you can devote the weekend to training your pooch, two weekends are best. With the combined efforts above, buy some balloons and blow them up enough to where they will be loud when popped. When Fido starts to dig (and you must be outside keeping an eye on him during training) pop the balloon. Timing is everything so it needs to be right when he starts to paw the ground. It is then very important that you look very stern as if you were scolding a child that way you look like you don’t approve of his digging along with the balloon. The reason for this is so he can’t sense any kind of positive energy from you. It needs to be a calm, authoritative energy. Try not to let him see the balloon by keeping it behind your back. Dogs have amazing hearing so popping it behind your back will be fine, just remember timing is key! It needs to be right when he starts to paw the ground. Make sure the dog thinks it came from no-where specific. You can’t associate it with you. He needs to think it magically happens when he is digging. When you don’t have a balloon, mimic the sound by clapping your hands only once. It is important that the sound isn’t repeated and that you don’t make any noise either. Just the stern stance and the abrupt sound.
What to do after you make the sound with hands or balloon-you then calmly walk over to were he was digging, standing over it facing him. In a way you are claiming that spot as your own. Puppies pick up on this but they will still try to get to the spot because they test and test. That is what they do, so if he tries to paw under your feet you block him. Try not to lean over and instead use your leg/foot to block. This may take many tries. When he goes to a different spot or waits till you move you just repeat the entire process over and over.
Another great idea is the idea of a designated dig box. This is very necessary if the breed your dealing with is a terrier breed. They are designed to be Earth-bound dogs and dig. There are many terrier breeds that dig no matter what because it is the nature of there breed so your best bet is to teach them where they can dig. The best version is a wooden box that blends in nicely with the yard. Fill it with mostly sand and soil if you like. Bury some of his bones, treats, toys in it to encourage him to dig there. When you catch him digging in another spot you do as stated earlier, claiming the area he was digging and when he finally gives up, lays down, or just goes somewhere else you encourage him over to his own box every time.
- The important thing is to do ALL of these things consistently every time in order.
- Pepper/moth balls/feces
- Popping Balloon/Hand Clap from behind/side without him seeing
- Standing over the spot he was digging and wait for him to be completely submissive or disinterested in that particular spot
- Have him go to the sand box with love and encouragement
The hardest part of all of this will be to be patient and consistent. Also, you can’t let the dog outside unsupervised. I know this could be the most difficult part, but if you do and he starts digging where he wants you are undoing the work you have previously done. To accomplish this task it could take months and if you give him too much freedom too soon he will revert back to it and you will have taken a few steps backward in training. It happens though, so be prepared. For every step you take backward, you can take two forward. It just takes a little more work. You can also put chicken wire under ground around your garden as well as the fence row if that is where he predominantly digs. Just make sure the wire is facing outward so it doesn’t cut Fido’s pause.
If you get frustrated, aggravated, tense, etc., while working with him just take him back inside for a break. I suggest taking a book outside, work materials, etc. along with your balloons
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