What’s the Most Effective Way to Prevent Digging in Dogs with High Prey Drives?

April 22, 2024

If you have ever strolled into your yard only to find yet another hole dug by your energetic canine, you may have asked yourself: why does my dog love to dig so much? The simple answer, especially for certain dog breeds, is that digging is an innate behavior driven by their high prey drive. This doesn’t mean that your lawn has to be sacrificed. In this article, we will divulge the most effective ways to prevent your dog from turning your yard into its personal excavation site.

Understanding Why Dogs Dig

Before we can explore solutions, it’s important to understand the root cause of dogs’ digging behavior. By knowing what drives these actions, you’ll be better equipped to find the best solutions.

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Dogs love to dig for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s a natural instinct, especially for breeds with high prey drives. Hunting breeds such as terriers and dachshunds have been bred to dig for prey, like rodents, that hide underground. For these dogs, digging is a hard-wired behavior that allows them to satisfy their drive to hunt.

But it’s not just hunting breeds that love to dig. Other dogs may dig because they’re bored or anxious, they’re trying to cool down, or they’ve caught the scent of something interesting beneath the surface of the yard.

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Training to Prevent Digging

Training is the first line of defense against unwanted digging. It’s not about punishing the dog for digging, but rather redirecting their energy into more acceptable behaviors.

The key is consistency and positive reinforcement. Start by observing your dog to identify what triggers their desire to dig. Are they bored? Are they anxious? Do they have excess energy? Once you’ve identified the cause, you can tailor your training accordingly.

If your dog is digging out of boredom, make sure they’re getting enough physical and mental stimulation. Regular walks, playtime, and interactive toys can help keep your dog entertained. Training sessions can also be a great way to engage your dog mentally and physically.

For dogs with high prey drives, using toys that mimic the movement and sounds of small animals can help satisfy their hunting instincts.

Utilizing Food and Toys

Food and toys are great tools to keep your dog occupied and steer them away from destructive digging behavior. You can use these items to create stimulating activities that will keep your dog busy.

One effective way to keep dogs entertained is by using food-dispensing toys. These toys release small amounts of food or treats when your dog interacts with them, providing both a mental and physical challenge. They can keep your dog engaged for a significant amount of time, reducing their desire to dig.

Another option is to create a digging box. Fill a large, shallow container with sand or soil and bury toys or treats for your dog to find. This allows them to dig in a designated area without destroying your yard.

Installing a Dog-Proof Fence

Another crucial step in preventing your dog from digging up your yard is to install a dog-proof fence. This will not only keep your dog confined to a designated place but can also help prevent them from digging under the fence.

Consider a fence that goes underground or has a rigid base that your dog can’t dig under. You can also use landscaping features, such as large rocks or thick shrubbery, along the base of the fence to deter digging.

Remember, a fence is not a substitute for supervision and training. It’s a tool to help manage your dog’s behavior, not the sole solution.

Selecting the Best Breeds for Your Yard

If you’re considering adding a furry friend to your family, keep in mind that some breeds are more prone to digging than others. Breeds with high prey drives, like terriers and dachshunds, are more likely to dig because it’s in their nature to hunt for prey underground.

If you want to maintain a pristine yard, consider breeds that are less likely to dig. Breeds like the Bichon Frise, Shih Tzu, and Maltese are all less likely to turn your yard into a dig site.

Understanding the natural instincts and behaviors of different breeds can help you make an informed decision when choosing a dog, ensuring a harmonious relationship between your new pet and your yard.

Creating a Digging Zone

Creating a designated digging zone can be a highly effective strategy to prevent your high prey drive dog from damaging your yard. This controlled space allows your dog to satisfy its digging instinct in a way that’s manageable for you.

To create a digging zone for your dog, choose a patch in your garden that’s out of the way. You can use a child’s sandbox or build a custom area with landscape timbers or similar materials. Fill the space with loose soil or sand that’s comfortable for your dog to dig in.

Next, make the digging zone attractive for your dog. Bury some of your dog’s favorite toys or treats in the zone. When your dog starts to dig in an inappropriate area, redirect them to the digging zone and reward them when they start digging there. This encourages your dog to associate the digging zone with positive experiences and reinforces the behavior you want.

Remember, patience is key. This type of dog training can take some time and doesn’t always produce immediate results. However, with consistency, your dog will eventually learn to use their designated digging area and leave the rest of your yard undamaged.

Engaging a Professional Dog Trainer

Engaging a professional dog trainer can be beneficial, especially if your dog’s digging behavior is stubborn or particularly destructive. Dog trainers have the skills and experience to identify what’s driving your dog’s behavior and how to address it.

Professional dog trainers use various methods to curb unwanted behaviors in dogs. They can teach you effective techniques to redirect your dog’s digging behavior into something more constructive. It’s also a great avenue for socializing your dog, as they’ll likely interact with other dogs during training sessions.

Trainers can also provide your furry friend with rigorous exercises that can help work off excess energy, reducing their need to dig. It’s a worthwhile investment, especially if it helps preserve your yard and keeps your dog happy and occupied.


Preventing a high prey drive dog from digging doesn’t have to be a battle. Understanding why dogs dig and using strategies like training, utilizing food and toys, installing a dog-proof fence, creating a digging zone, and seeking help from a professional dog trainer can make a significant difference.

It’s key to remember that dogs with a strong prey drive are not being naughty or destructive on purpose. Digging is a natural instinct for them, and they need our help to manage it in a way that respects their innate behavior while also protecting our yards.

While this may require some effort and patience, the result is well worth it – a happy, satisfied dog, and a yard free from holes. After all, our dogs give us so much joy and companionship, so it’s only fair we invest in their happiness and well-being too. So, let’s grab our dog toys, put on our dog trainer hats, and start creating a digging-free environment for our beloved pets!