Dog Days of Digging: How to Stop Your Pooch From Tearing Up Your Yard

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By Lisa Kaplan Gordon

We love our dogs, but our yards don't. Dogs dig up the lawn in a heartbeat, eager to bury a bone or pursue a gopher, leaving gaping holes and piles of dirt.

Here's how to keep your dog from digging up your yard. (If it's your garden instead, here are tips on how to keep dogs out of your garden.)

1. Tire out your dog

A napping dog is not a digging dog, so exhaust your pet with regular walks and active play.

"Homeowners with big yards think they can just open the back door and their dogs will be entertained," says Tim Link, a dog expert and author of "Wagging Tales."

"That's boring for an animal," says Link. "You have to mix it up. If a dog is stimulated, he'll get into a lot less mischief."

To keep your animal active, try:

- Hiding a favorite indoor toy outdoors so he can hunt for it.

- Playing catch with a ball or Frisbee.

- Taking her on frequent walks.

- Setting up an agility course.

2. Offer a digging spot of his own

Dogs dig for thrills, for a cool place to lie down, and for a place to bury bones. It's an instinctive behavior you can't eliminate, but you can redirect it by building your pet a digging box.

It doesn't have to be big -- a shaded, 4-by-4-foot space will do. Fill it with sand, cat box filler, or wood chips. Then let your dog watch you bury a toy or treat in the box. When he goes after it, praise his efforts -- dogs would rather be rewarded for digging in their box than scolded for digging in your garden.

3. Nix the bones

Instead of offering your dog a bone that he'll want to hide in a hole, give your pet rawhide or veggie-based chews that he'll eat rather than bury.

Also, buy your puppy a busy ball ($10-$15) that dispenses treats as he bats it around. It's a challenge and exercise, which will keep your dog's body and mind active.

4. Get rid of unwanted pests

Dogs often dig around fences and shrubs to hunt prey -- such as rats, gophers and moles. Beat him to the job by humanely getting rid of rodents. Don't use poison to kill the critters, because it could kill your pet, too.

5. Keep your dog company

If you know your dog likes to dig or eat outdoors, don't leave him unattended. Let him watch you plant your garden and explain what you're doing and the behavior you expect.

Yep, you read that right.

Link says dogs understand and respond to human conversation, so long as it contains high praise and clear directions, and is followed by a reward for good behavior.

You might say, "Sebastian, you're the best dog in the world, and I know you love to dig. But I don't want you digging up the lawn and ruining our beautiful yard. Now, let's get a treat."

This story was originally published on HouseLogic.

See more on HouseLogic:
The Link Between Clutter and Depression
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Dog Days of Digging: How to Stop Your Pooch From Tearing Up Your Yard

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