The American Dog Trainers Network


a rainbow-colored separation bar

How To Prevent Destructive Digging

Inactivity and long periods of isolation in a yard, garage or other enclosure can contribute to a variety of behavioral problems, including destructive digging and chewing, nuisance barking, hyperactivity, extreme neediness for attention, and indiscriminate and inappropriate aggression (ie: towards children, innocent passers-by, and other dogs).


Causes of Destructive Digging

  • Inactivity and insufficient exercise.
  • Boredom and lack of stimulation
  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Frustration, and prey-drive or territorial aggression.
  • This is a common reaction to seeing dogs, other animals, or  people
    (including children that tease or run by) on the other side of  fence.
  • Attempts to escape, in order to roam or play with neighborhood  dogs
  • Genetic propensity. Terriers are especially prone to dig
  • Prey drive and hunting instint (digging for moles, rats,  gophers, rabbits, etc.)
  • Digging into the cool earth in order to escape hot  temperatures
  • To explore or find something new or interesting
  • Natural denning instinct
  • To bury bones, toys, food or other objects.
  • To look for "hidden treasure", good smells, etc.
  • Because digging is fun.




Solutions for Destructive Digging

  • At least 1 to 2 hours of active outdoor exercise (yard  exercise is not enough!)
  • At least one long (45-90 minutes) leash walk per day
  • Play dates with other friendly dogs (unless your dog is  dog-aggressive)
  • Create a digging pit (at least 5' x 5') filled with dirt or a  sand-clay mixture.
  • Sufficient daily companionship
  • Other contructive outlets such as: obedience training,  agility, flyball,
    flying dics, trick training, retrieving, tracking, Schutzhund,  SAR, etc.
  • Filling holes with dog feces to discourage your dogs from  enlarging holes.
    (This will not prevent your dog from digging new holes  however.)
  • Squirting a light water spray (with a water pistol or hose)  towards dog just as s/he begins to dig a hole. (Obviously, this  is NOT recommended during winter or cool weather.)

Copyright 1995 - 1999,  Robin Kovary

Photo Credits











Robin Kovary is the American Dog Trainers Network helpline director
 and canine behavioral consultant.