How Not to stop your Puppy from Digging

Alfie Loves digging

Digging for a treasure!

Ever since I was a tiny little puppy, my humans have received a weekly email from Dogster, with tips and ideas on puppy training. Its usually quite basic advice like ‘don’t forget to socialize your puppy’ or  ’how to potty train your dog’ and we usually have all of it covered already. This week however I saw her read the email very carefully – the topic was ‘Four ways to stop your dog from digging’ and if you click the link you can read the whole article.

I was a little concerned at first – I love to dig, and don’t want to give it up anytime soon. I soon realized however, that their advice wouldn’t make much difference and felt quite relieved. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with their ideas as such – but I’m what you’d probably call a power digger and their suggestions probably wouldn’t even scratch the surface of my ‘digging problem’.

I’m a clever pup though, and I do understand that humans don’t want their gardens ruined. So I thought, why don’t I list the advice and tell the humans why its no good and won’t work. Then, I’ll give my own suggestions on what distractions might convince me to keep my paws above ground. Sound like a good idea?

Four Ways to Stop Your Puppy from Digging – and why it won’t work

  1. Leave Nothing to Bury. Hmm what humans don’t always seem to realize is that although dogs love to bury toys and bones, the digging is sometimes about what you might find. And there is plenty underground just waiting to be found!
  2. Don’t Leave Your Puppy Outside - Dogster suggest that you should never leave a ‘digger’ outside for more than 15 minutes. My research suggests that in that time I could not only rip up the entire lawn, but also dig my way halfway to China. In my experience you don’t need more than 30 seconds to dig a reasonably sized hole.
  3. Offer Hydration. Hmmm I guess they have a point here – digging does make me thirsty, but having water available won’t stop me digging anytime soon.
  4. Keep His Interest. Now this is the best of their ideas, and one that I would actually enjoy. The problem is that humans tend to want to do other stuff whilst in the garden, like gardening or having a cup of tea. Just giving me a toy to play with isn’t gonna keep my interest for long.

    Alfie Digging

    You can dig with your nose too!

I’d agree to stop digging if…

1. I got a sandpit of my own. It would need to be really deep and filled with exciting treats and toys for me to explore and dig out.

2. They bought me a soap bubble machine. I’ve seen them advertised and they look really fab – I can imagine myself chasing bubbles for quite some time before I feel the need to dig again.

3. They played an endless game of fetch with me

4. They arranged a play date with a dog friend

5. They spread out some kibble all over the lawn – I love sniffing out treats!

What do you think dogs – do you have any other suggestions?



  1. says

    I’ve never been a digger, except where the bird food has fallen on the ground and I think I might have missed some. Shadow on the other paw, well she could be on the British Olympic digging team. She seems to have grown out of it to some extent, but if the weeds in the grass get to a certain level of growth, well, you’ve never seen anything like it. I think what put me off was when we had moles and they were digging up everything and I mean EVERYTHING.

  2. says

    Digging for bird food sounds sensible enough, personally I prefer to get my whole nose in there and rummage around amongst the worms and creepy crawlers though :-)

    Moles sound exciting though, bet they didn’t stay in your garden for long once they realized they shared the space with three dogs!

  3. says

    I like your suggestions better than that other article, Alfie. My parents have a springer spaniel who likes to dig. She seems to dig because she smells all kinds of critters in the ground. I really don’t see any way to stop the dog from digging unless the human is going to be out there to supervise at all times and play fetch or otherwise distract the dog. Possibly the sand pit idea would work. I’ve heard lots of positive reinforcement trainers bring up that idea. But that reinforces the digging and the dog will still be dirty and covered in sand. Wet sand, if it’s rained.

    The only real option I have come up with is an e-collar with a remote. Correct the dog the instant he digs. Reward with the absolute best treats the moment he stops. That doesn’t sound like very much fun for the dog. But if the digging problem is a serious problem, it might be the right option for some.

    Most people probably just accept that their dog is going to dig and do the best they can to supervise the dog when he’s outside.

    • says

      Your parents Spaniel has a point – there really are lots of yummy creepers and crawlers in the ground to dig for.

      My humans are trying very hard to keep their eyes pinned on me while I’m in the garden, and the second I start digging I get told off, but often I’m too quick and have managed to dig a reasonable hole before they even spotted what I was up to.

      All I want is to either be left alone to dig and rummage around, or to have my humans’ undivided attention, it really is that simple. So lately my humans have reverted to keeping me on a lead next to them while they’re in the garden enjoying a BBQ or coffee. Then, when they have time to play with me I get to run around freely. Its not ideal, but it keeps me out of trouble.


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