A dog can dig for any number of reasons, most of them curiosity, playfulness or pure dog boredom, but there are times when a dog’s digging can be a problem. It becomes a problem when your dog digs out of separation anxiety because you have left home for a while. It becomes a problem when your dog views being in the backyard the same as a prisoner views being in prison, and wants to escape. It becomes a problem when your dog digs to get attention. It may not become a problem if your dog is digging just to get cooler during the summer, or to get out of the rain, but it can become one. So, to stop your dog from digging, you should first find out why your dog is digging in the first place.
Never use punishment as part of training your dog to stop digging. This will create a negative impact on your dog’s personality, to where it will dig when you aren’t looking, because of stress. Instead, train your dog to understand and respond to the word “no” or “stop” whenever you see your dog digging where she is not supposed to, and then treat her when she responds the right way. Praise her. This will get her used to the attention and the treats, and she will stop digging at your command.
Another idea is to set aside a certain patch of land in the yard that is designated “doggie digging area,” then train your dog to go into this special area should the urge to dig hit her. Train her not to dig anywhere else. Again, immediate reinforcement of good behavior is a must.
One way to get your dog used to digging in her special place is to have many of her favorite chew and play toys in the area. This will encourage her to play in this area and not anywhere else in the yard that you don’t want dug up. Or, you can block of the off limits areas of the yard, to keep your dog only in the special digging area. This last suggestion would be especially important if you keep a garden in your yard. As a drastic measure, perhaps you can install sprinklers in the entrance to the areas you do not want your dog digging. Most dogs do not like to get wet, and this would be a great guard to keep your dog away.
A great way to stop your dog from digging is to play with her. Keep her engaged and active doing other things she enjoys, such as catching balls, running around the yard, anything to keep her mind off digging. Take her out for long walks to help her burn that energy that she would normally use for digging. A tired dog is a non-digging dog.
To stop your dog from digging when you are not at home, you might want to be sure that your dog is loaded up on plenty of toys and activities or games that she can play with on her own. One big reason the dog is getting into the digging habit is because she is just plain bored. An active dog doesn’t have time to think about digging, thus you save your yard from the onslaught of her paws (ps: trim those dog nails).