How To Train Your Puppy Not To Dig

As I have discussed in many of my previous blogs, you take on a lot of responsibility when adopting a puppy.  One of the biggest is to train your pup well, so it stays healthy and gets the chance to grow into an adult dog.

However, keeping your puppy safe isn’t the only reason to train them. For example, a puppy or dog that barks all the time can be annoying for you and the people around you, including your neighbors. That makes teaching your puppy not to bark, or at least bark less frequently, essential.

Indeed, many of the things you will want to train your puppy don’t have anything to do with keeping them safe but instead keep them from being destructive. Training your puppy to only chew on their toys, for example, rather than furniture, your shoes, and other items.

I have a decent-sized backyard which, for a puppy, is fantastic. I let mine out in the yard to play, go potty and enjoy the outdoors. However, one thing that I had to train her about first is the subject of today’s blog, how to train your puppy not to dig.

The answer is that, first and foremost, you need to catch your puppy in the act of digging and interrupt their behavior with a loud noise, like a hand slap. Then, firmly and loudly, tell them, “no dig!”

Next, you should place something over the area where they were digging to make it unpleasant for them to dig there again. This, however, is only one of several methods you can use to stop your puppy from digging.

I have several other methods for you below and the answer to several other related questions. Why is my puppy always trying to dig, for example, and do puppies grow out of digging holes? 

Read on to discover all of these methods and answers and keep your puppy from making a mess out of your backyard.

Why is my Puppy Always Trying to Dig?

Here’s the thing about puppies and dogs; digging is something they do instinctually (innately). They’ve been doing it for millennia, and some dog breeds have even been bred to dig for hunting purposes.

For many dogs and puppies, digging a hole is fun and something they enjoy doing very much. It’s as much a part of their core being as barking and sniffing other dogs’ butts.

There are several other reasons your puppy might be trying to dig all the time. One of the most common is during hot weather when they get too warm and dig a hole in the dirt to lie in it and cool off.

The hole your puppy digs will often be in a shady part of your yard under a tree or hedge. Near a water source like a puddle or leaky hose is often where your puppy will choose to dig to cool off even more.

Some puppies will dig to try and escape wherever they’re being held outside. If you keep your puppies in a large outdoor pen, it’s almost expected they will try and dig a hole under it to get out.

Puppies often dig holes out of sheer boredom when they don’t have another dog or human to play with and no bones or toys to chew on.

One other reason your puppy might be digging all the time is that there are moles, chipmunks, or other small animals in your yard. Your pup can hear and smell these critters and will often dig to try and get to them.

Do Puppies Grow Out of Digging Holes?

Typically, puppies and adult dogs do not grow out of digging. Some will dig less as they get older, but most will happily dig holes until their dying day. Most terrier breeds, which were bred to dig for millennia, will continue digging their entire life.

Tips to Stop your Dog from Digging

You can do several things to prevent your dog from digging, although some work better than others. The best include:

  • Give your puppy interactive toys that occupy their time, energy, and interest more than digging. Some puppies dig out of boredom and, if they aren’t bored, won’t dig.
  • Don’t put your puppy outside by themselves for an extended time.  The longer pups are left to their own devices, the higher the chance they will start digging.
  • Have pests and vermin removed from your yard. Getting rid of squirrels might be impossible, but you can usually eradicate chipmunks, moles, and other burrowing rodents humanely. If that’s why your puppy is digging, it’s a good solution.
  • Use a repellent spray. You can spray it where your puppy digs to prevent them from doing it again. If you use a repellent spray, I recommend purchasing one that‘s natural and not filled with chemicals.

Will Vinegar Stop a Dog from Digging?

In some cases, yes, vinegar will stop your puppy or dog from digging, at least in the same spot. Dogs and puppies don’t like the smell of vinegar, and it is often an effective method to stop their digging.

The best way to use vinegar is a mixture of 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water. Put it in a spray bottle and spray it in the area where your puppy’s been digging. Vinegar isn’t the perfect remedy, but it works like a charm in some cases. 

Another often effective method is to spray lemon water the same way you spray the vinegar-water mixture.  Squeeze the juice of 4 or 5 lemons into a quart of water, put it in a spray bottle, and spray it where your puppy’s been digging.

How to Stop a Dog from Digging in the Same Spot?

The vinegar and lemon water methods of stopping your puppy from digging will also work to stop them from digging in the same spot. There are several others, including:

  • Rubbing alcohol. Puppies and dogs hate the smell of rubbing alcohol. A good way to use it is to soak cotton balls in alcohol and spread them around where your puppy has been digging.
  • Essential oils, including eucalyptus, cinnamon, and lemon, are a great way to discourage your puppy from digging. They might smell wonderful to humans, but dogs don’t like essential oils. 
  • Your puppy’s own poop.  Yes, this sounds extremely weird, but dogs avoid their own poop. If you put some of their poop around the holes they’ve been digging, they will avoid those areas.
  • Soak coffee filters in ammonia and place them around the area where your puppy has been digging. Ammonia has an incredibly strong scent that dogs very much dislike.

One product that some people believe is a great remedy to prevent dogs from digging in the same spot is cayenne pepper. However, if your puppy gets cayenne pepper on their paws and then rubs their face, it can cause them serious pain. That’s why I (and many vets) recommend against using cayenne pepper as a hole-digging deterrent.

Final Thoughts

Now you know several methods for how to train your puppy not to dig,  many of which will work quite well. As I mentioned at the outset of today’s blog, the best way to train your puppy not to dig is to catch them in the act and use the command “no dig!” 

Then, use one of the preventative methods we talked about today to keep them from digging in the same spot again. It will take some time and persistence, but your puppy will eventually get the hint that digging is not allowed. 

Keep in mind that, while they may dig less after training, digging is innately dog and something they’ve been doing since the dawn of doggy time. You may be able to reduce their digging habits but eliminating them is practically impossible.

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog about how to train your puppy not to dig and that all of your questions have been answered. 

If you have more questions about how to be a pet parent, please take a look at my other blogs. I do my best to fill them with excellent advice, tips, and information. 

Until next time, best of luck keeping your puppy from making your yard look like Swiss cheese!