Digging is a completely normal K9 behavior. Yet the reasons behind the activity are varied. Your dog may dig to seek entertainment, comfort, escape or prey. The most effective approach to the problem is to address the cause of the digging. Here’s advice on how to figure out why your dog digs—and how to stop it:

Seeking Entertainment

Dogs may dig as a form of self-play when they learn that roots and soil “play back.” Your dog may be digging for entertainment if: He’s left alone in the yard for long periods of time without opportunities for interaction. His environment is relatively barren—with no playmates or toys.

Build your dog a dig pit. Create a small sand box or baby pool filled with dirt/sand in your yard and burry fun and exciting things there for your dog to find. Encourage him to dig there, and only there. This way he gets to have is fun, and your yard won’t suffer the consequences.

Seeking Prey

Dogs may try to pursue burrowing animals or insects that live in your yard.

We recommend that you search for possible signs of “pests” and then make your yard unwelcome to them. Avoid methods that could be toxic or dangerous to your pets or other animals.

Seeking Comfort or Protection

Dogs may dig holes to lie in the cool dirt. They may also dig to provide themselves with shelter from cold, wind, or rain, or to try to find water. Your dog may be digging for comfort or protection if: The holes are near foundations of buildings, large shade trees, or a water source. Your dog doesn’t have a shelter or his shelter is exposed to the hot sun or cold winds. You find evidence that your dog is lying in the holes he digs.

Provide an insulated doghouse. Make sure it affords protection from wind and sun. Your dog may still prefer a hole in the ground, in which case you can try providing an “approved digging area” as described above. Make sure the allowed digging area is in a spot that is protected from the elements. Provide plenty of fresh water in a bowl that can’t be tipped over. Or if possible do not leave your dog outside unattended. Consider bringing him into the home.

Seeking Escape

Dogs may escape to get to something, to get somewhere, or to get away from something. Your dog may be digging to escape if: He digs along the fence line. He digs under the fence.

Bury chicken wire at the base of the fence. Be sure to roll the sharp edges away from your yard. Place large rocks, partially buried, along the bottom of the fence line. Bury the bottom of the fence one to two feet below the surface. Lay chain link fencing on the ground (anchored to the bottom of the fence) to make it uncomfortable for your dog to walk near the fence. If you already have not, spay or neuter you pet. Your dog may be escaping to get to a potential mate.

Regardless of the reason for digging, we don’t recommend: Punishment after the fact. Finally, if you’ve tried all these suggestions and you still can’t solve your dog’s digging problem, then keep him indoors with you, and be sure to supervise your dog during bathroom breaks.