Dogs, digging, and boredom: Your guide to a hole free yard 1

Is your yard a proverbial mine field of holes dug by your dear dog?  Do you hesitate at leaving her outside by herself for fear she’ll dig another hole?  Has your dog ever escaped your backyard because she dug herself an exit?  There’s an answer for your dog’s digging obsession.

To stop your dog’s digging behavior, you will need all or some of the following:

  • Time
  • Patience
  • Engaging Toys (Varsity Ball, Jolly Ball on a Rope, Flirt Pole)


The most important element of changing your dog’s digging behavior is to understand its cause – BOREDOM!  Your dog is bored when it decides to take up digging.  Digging both engages the dog’s mind and entertains her.  The only way to alter the digging behavior is to eliminate boredom.

The Varsity Ball ( is approximately 12” diameter, hard plastic (safe for consumption) and weighs approximately 3 lbs.  This ball carries a 110% indestructible guarantee – if your dog destroys it, the makers will replace it.  For smaller dogs, there is a Varsity Ball Junior with a diameter of about 6” and weighing 1 lb.  More importantly, the ball is a human free workout for your dog.  If your dog is chasing, herding, nudging and batting at the ball all afternoon, she’ll be too tired to dig.

Another option for a great dog workout is the Jolly Pet Romp-n-Roll.  The ball comes in 4.5”, 6” and 8” diameters and weighs about 1 pound.  According to the Jolly Pet website (, the ball was designed to be thrown, kicked, carried and tugged.  We think it was designed to wear your dog out during an afternoon’s workout.

If your dog isn’t the kind to entertain herself, the Flirt Pole may be your answer (available from and Longoriahaus Dog Training).  The Flirt Pole is a 3-4’ pole with a line attached that has a ball or piece or soft leather attached to the opposite end.  Not all dogs are naturally taken with the Flirt Pole.  You will need to move the pole in a manner that makes the object on the end of the line look and act like prey.  The hope is, the more it moves, the more your dog will move.

The goal in using these toys is to exercise your dog to the point that digging (exerting more energy) is no longer appealing.  A tired dog is not bored and will not dig.

If you are a regular reader of our blog, you may notice that corrective behavior is not suggested to remedy digging.  The real answer to correcting digging is understanding your overall relationship with your dog.  Is your dog not getting enough exercise?  Does your dog crave more interactive time with you?  Do you understand what it is your dog needs?

In all behavior problems, the focus needs to be teaching your dog what you want it to do rather than what you don’t want it to do.  Spend time exercising your dog not only to stop the digging behavior but improve your overall relationship.

In the event your dog is drawn to particular spots in your yard despite exercise and interaction, a large amount of black pepper can be spread in and around the hole.  If the area is too large for that or you are protecting something with high importance, investing in an invisible fence may be your best answer.

Remember, a tired dog is not a digging dog.  Work with your dog to find her favorite exercise activity.  You will both benefit from the time spent together.

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