Q: What can I do about my dog’s determination to dig in the backyard. It looks like a gopher invasion with all the holes! He also digs before circling in his doggy bed, causing rips to the cover. Help!

Digging is an exploratory behavior and instinct plays a role. Dogs in the wild dig to build a den to protect their puppies. Terriers (earth-dog) and dachshunds were bred to dig and hunt for prey.

Try to figure out why they are digging: attention, bored, anxious, fearful, lacking mental or physical stimulation, trying to escape under a fence, or to stay cool in summer or warm in winter? I think most dogs dig because it’s fun!

Digging is self-rewarding; the more a dog practices, the worse it can get.

Whether your dog is burying a bone in the backyard, or circling their bed, they’re just trying to create a comfortable place to lay and claim a safe spot. You should see how much tossing and turning I do in my bed to get comfortable!

When my dogs are in the yard, I’m the playground monitor so I can spot digging at the start. I call “come,” reward them for coming, than redirect to another activity. If they don’t come, that means training is necessary. Once I have a better recall (usually) that’s all it takes.

The best deterrent for digging is to place garden rocks or bury bricks where you don’t want them to dig. Once they hit the hard surface, they usually stop. You can also bury your dog’s poop (they don’t like to dig there).


  • Create a digging pit (or sandbox) and let your dog dig to China! Encourage digging in that spot only.
  • Teach a foolproof “come”. If you catch your dog digging elsewhere, call “come” in a happy, non-threatening voice. Praise your pup and redirect back to the digging pit or to a behavior incompatible with digging (retrieve game, interactive toys. etc).
  • Become more exiting to your dog than a gopher!
  • Make sure your dog’s physical. mental and emotional needs are being met at home.
  • Management, supervision and exercise are key!

For dog beds, keep nails trimmed and use a cover. I let my dog dig in his bed to get comfy, but if he continues to interrupt my TV show, I calmly say “lay down” and offer a chew toy.

What’s the upside of digity dogs? Digging keeps nails short and will tire your pup out!