If you're a proud dog owner and a green thumb enthusiast, you might have already experienced the frustration of finding your furry friend digging up your beautiful garden beds. As much as you love your pup, you probably don't love the sight of ruined flowers, uprooted vegetables, and dirt all over the place. Such scenarios often beg the question, "How can I stop my dog from digging up my garden?"
You can stop your dog from digging up your garden by keeping it busy through entertainment and exercise. You can also employ tactics that separate the dog from the garden. Lastly, you can use natural deterrents or repellents to discourage your pup from destroying your beloved garden.
In the rest of this article, I'll discuss simple yet effective ways to stop your dog from digging up your garden. From the best forms of entertainment to natural repellents, I'll cover it all. So sit back and relax as I take you through the guide.
Reasons Why Dogs Dig Up Gardens
Before diving into the ways to stop a dog from digging up your garden, It's essential to get acquainted with the reasons why dogs do it in the first place. That way, you'll know what to aim for when trying to stop them.
While digging is an instinctive behaviour in dogs, some dogs dig more than others. In such situations, you may start worrying that your canine friend is suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Some of the most common reasons dogs dig include the following:
Excessive digging is one of the signs of separation anxiety in dogs.
Separation anxiety is triggered when a dog's owners are away for extended periods, leaving the pup feeling alone and scared. Digging is one way dogs cope with these emotions.
If your pup's digging is accompanied by scratching at windows and doors, excessive barking, and other frantic behaviours, separation anxiety is likely the underlying cause.
Dogs are highly active animals and need a lot of stimulation to stay busy. When bored or lonely, they tend to dig to pass time.
If you leave your pup at home for long hours without giving it something to do, chances are it'll start digging to fight off boredom.
If your yard is enclosed by a fence, your furry friend may try to dig underneath it as an escape route.
In some cases, dogs also dig near walls and fences attempting to reach the other side.
Fortunately, it's easy to pinpoint when your dog is digging in search of an escape route. You'll usually find a tunnelling pattern around the fence.
Dogs have an innate hunting instinct, and digging is one way they express it. For instance, breeds like terriers have high hunting instincts, thanks to their long history of being bred for such activities.
Your pup may dig small holes while looking for rodents, birds, and other animals hiding underground.
If your pup exhibits this behaviour, you'll usually find it digging in random spots and sniffing around the dirt.
In summer, dogs may dig holes to lie in and stay cool, while in winter, they might do it to burrow and find warmth.
If you notice your pup digging large holes or cavities, it may be because they're trying to regulate their body temperature.
Ways to Stop Your Dog from Digging Up Your Garden
Now that you know why dogs dig, let's look at how to stop them.
Exercise the Dog
Most dogs will only dig when they have extra energy to release.
Contrary to popular belief, exercising your canine friend helps dispense off its pent-up energy, making it less likely to dig in the garden.
You can take your pup on walks, play fetch with them, or even engage in agility training.
If you take your pup on walks, consider using a leash to keep it away from digging spots.
A hands-free lead is ideal in such situations because it's shock-absorbing and has two handles for total control.
Take your pup to a designated dog park or play area for supervised digging activities; this way, you can monitor its digging habits and keep it away from your garden beds.
Doing so tires out the dog, ensuring it has no energy for destructive digging.
Keep Your Dog Busy and Entertained
A bored dog is an unhappy dog–it'll likely find ways to entertain itself through destructive activities like digging.
That said, keeping your pup busy and entertained is essential if you want it to stay away from the garden beds.
You can achieve that by providing plenty of physical and mental stimulation through:
- Playing the shell game
- Taking it on walks
- Playing with interactive toys. You can keep these toys in the garden to distract the dog
- Teaching new tricks like going to find its toys
Separate the Dog from the Garden
If the temptation to dig is too strong for your pup, consider separating it from the garden.
You can put your pup in a kennel or another area away from the garden when you're not around to supervise them.
You can also create an animal-proof fence around your garden and ensure the gate is always closed. That way, it won't have access to digging spots.
Use Dog-Friendly Deterrents
If you want to keep your pup from digging the garden beds, consider using deterrents like citrus peels, vinegar-soaked cotton balls, and chicken wire.
You can also sprinkle some cayenne pepper around the edges of the garden bed or spray it with water whenever it starts to dig.
These deterrents will startle the pup and stop it from digging up your garden beds.
Reward Good Behaviour
Nearly all dogs love rewards and tend to go the extra mile, including inculcating good behaviours to get them.
According to the American Kennel Club, reward-based dog training is incredibly effective and helps reinforce positive behaviour in dogs.
Rewarding the pup when it leaves the garden beds alone can incentivize it to stay away from the digging spots.
When you catch your pup in the act of digging, gently but firmly say "no" to stop them. Reward them with treats or praise when they obey. This reinforces the behaviour, helping the dog to connect not digging in the garden with rewards.
Provide a Designated Digging Area
Since digging is a natural instinct for your pup, consider providing a designated area where it can dig without causing destruction.
This way, you can channel its energy towards something productive and encourage good behaviour.
Create a sandpit or an easily movable box filled with dirt and toys the dog can bury and unearth. This will stimulate the pup's natural digging instinct, giving it an outlet for its behaviour.
You can go a notch higher by incorporating the designated digging area with plenty of stimulation and rewards. This way, you'll be able to teach the pup good habits and discourage destructive behaviour over time.
Having a dog that loves to dig can be frustrating, especially when it damages your beautiful garden. However, it's important to understand that digging is a natural behaviour for dogs, and there are many ways to redirect it without causing harm.
So, if you've ever asked yourself, "How can I stop my dog from digging up my garden?" The answer is simple: supervision, deterrents, reward-based training, exercise, and creating designated digging areas.