Controlling a Digging Puppy

The way some dogs dig up holes in a yard, you'd think they were professional gravediggers. Unfortunately, while this may be amusing for guests, for the dog owner, it is an immensely frustrating problem that demands immediate solutions.

Why do pups dig?

While the behavior may be frustrating, your puppy will most likely dig out of his natural instincts. In the wild, dogs would dig holes to store leftovers. They'd also make dens in the earth in which to sleep and raise pups. So in a way, your puppy is instinctively expecting this treatment, and learning to dig for its own perceived reasons of survival. They somehow sensed that burying food could keep it safe from other predators.

One possible solution to this problem is to limit your puppy's access to scraps of food and bones. If he has nothing to bury, he won't dig so much in the first place. Additionally, make it clear to your pup where he can and cannot dig. You could section off a part of your yard, and teach your pupthat it is only acceptable to dig there. Bury toys in the dirt to encourage her. If you see her digging in the wrong section of the yard, reprimand her, then lead her to the correct spot and praise her. She will eventually learn where she can dig, and where she can't.

If your puppy persists, try putting some chili powder in a watering can with water, and wet the patches you would like her to avoid. This acts as an excellent deterrent, as dogs do not like the smell of Chili. Ground red pepper and aversive substances like bitter apple will also do the job.

Additionally, in the summer months, digging dens provides puppies with a cool environment in hot weather, and warmth in cold weather. So it is your job, as a responsible dog owner, to combat this need by providing your dog with plenty of warmth or coolness, depending on the season. In the cold months, provide your dog with a comfortable dog house or shelter he can stay warm in. In the summer, provide a cool, shaded area, and if you have the space and money, a small wading pool. Pups love the feel of water on their backs, so if you give them an easy way to cool off, they will reward you by limiting the digging they need to do to stay cool.

How to Stop Puppies from Digging: More Solutions

Practice building a digging pit exclusively for the puppy. This would prove to be the most effective way of focusing puppy's digging habit. A pit of around 3ft with a depth of around 18-24" would solve the purpose. Look for an area that does not welcome direct sunlight and cold winds. Building a frame from railway sleepers would be ideal. Rest the frame level on the ground and dig out about 8-10" of soil. This provides a pit of the required depth. Fill this pit with sand. Mix the sand with the soil, if the soil is fairly loose. This also saves the task of having to remove so much soil. Let your puppy watch the pit being dug so he understands it is his digging area. If your puppy happens to dig elsewhere, kindly redirect it to the correct location. Always praise your pup when she digs in the correct area.

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