Help!!!!! Digging dog!

We have a not-quite-one-year-old border collie/lab mix. She is exercised daily (long walks, running, playing frisby, etc.), always has bones to chew on, and has a bunch of toys to play with. We have a fenced in backyard that she loves to run around.
Problem: she’s an incessant digger. She digs dozens of holes in a short period of time. We can’t leave her out there unwatched for more than 10 minutes without her digging a huge hole. My husband just called me at work to tell me that she just dug up a whole section of the irrigation system. He had put her out there for about 15 minutes while he cleaned the kitchen floor.

What do we do? Any products we could use to discourage her? Behavioral techniques? What’s her problem??

I have a dog that dug.
She went one step further and caused a brick path to collapse. One second I was standing on it, the next I was shoulder deep in a hole.
Anyway, the training methods people recommended to me were:
Bury the dog in the hole. Obviously only it’s legs or something.
Push the dog’s head into the hole and start to throw dirt on it.
Let the dog have one hole, or a small area it is permitted to dig in, and tell it off for digging anywhere else.
Every time you catch the dog digging a hole, shut it in the laundry or somewhere similar for 5 minutes or so.
None of these actually had any effect on my dog, but now she is nearly five, she has stopped digging except for one hole every summer in the wettest, shadiest part of the yard. She only does that to keep cool, but I have no idea why she was obsessed with digging in the first place.

Thanks, Mousseduck. I don’t think we’ll bury her in the hole, but training her to dig in one specific place may help. I hope this is something she outgrows, but if anybody has anything else they can suggest, I’d be so grateful!

My dog (a dalmatian/boston terrier mix) has nearly every bad habit a dog can display:

She digs “friendship tunnels” to the yard next door, which contains three pitbulls. As far as I can tell, she’s doing this selflessly, as they don’t seem to be encouraging her.

She dissassembled our outdoor lighting system and then cut the power to all backyard electrical systems.

She ate all the rainbird-style sprinkler heads and broke off all the standard style ones.

She eats poo; both hers and our other dog’s (she prefers his, but isn’t picky).

She ate a 4’x4’ section of carpet in the middle of the living room.

Some other items eaten by my dog: a can (peel-top) of powdered baby formula, the “poop scoop”, the other dog’s harness, several ball-point pens, a tv stand, several kitchen chairs (wood), a baby pacifier, a lint remover (with refill roll).

She does have an obedience certificate, however, and has been visited by multiple dog behavior specialists. We have put cayenne pepper on everything and she just eats it up. She has been yelled at, spanked, had her nose shoved in things, been cooped up, put outside, heavily exercised, praised, derided, and threatened with legal action. None of this has had the slightest impact on her behavior except that she gives me the “I know I’ve done an awful thing, but I can’t remember what” look a lot.

I have come to the following conclusion: My dog is as dumb as a box of rocks.

Two more suggestions.

Put a pile of her feces in the hole, she won’t want to dig THERE again. Of course, this doesn’t stop her from digging elsewhere.

A trainer suggested the following, I hope I can explain it.
When you find a new hole, or new excavation in an old one, drive a post into it and tie the dog to the post for half an hour, coming out once in the middle to tell her “Bad dog, no digging”. Leave the post there when you remove the dog. Repeat with every new hole, leaving the poles as “reminders”. After several (or several dozen, if the dog isn’t very bright!) she should catch on that digging leaves her tied in the hole. Your yard may look odd, but it is supposed to work.

Otherwise, I’d suggest a concrete pad and chain link kennel for when she can’t be watched.

Good luck!

I think digging is usually a sign of boredom. How about keeping the dog inside with you?

My cat tries to dig holes every morning… first in the bed, then on the carpeted floor. It looks hilarious, because he has no claws, and he just ends up polishing the carpet/bed. Maybe if you cut your dog’s claws down far enough (a bit at a time to avoid cutting the quick) he would be unable to dig. I have no idea if this would work or not, but it’s worth a try…

I suggest busy work. If you’re a teacher, make her grade papers. If you’re and exec., give her some filing to do. Maybe make her do a door-to-door survey would keep her both occupied and exercized.

Of course, the only problem with this would be her lack of thumbs. But then, you could just get her working on an attachable opposable thumb prosthetic.

Hope this helps.

We once lined the bottom of a hole with bricks to stop a rabbit (and later a dog) from tunnelling over to the neighbor’s yard. Rabbit was in love with a tortoise, go figure.

Funny now (but not at the time), our dog dropped dead in a hole she was digging. No, really. She was digging a hole in my mom’s rose garden (a large no-no, but she loved to), when she had a massive heart attack and fell head-first into the hole. My brother came home and found her, it was bad. But we can laugh about it now, in a good way.

We were never able to break her of digging (until that last hole), but she usuallly dug to bury something. A dog run would cure that, but then she might just “bury” things in our couch or carpet.

We’ve actually tried the feces thing, but it just causes her to dig new holes in different places. Then, when the feces has gotten old and degraded, she’ll go back to that spot.

We’ll try that pole thing this weekend…good idea!

porcupine I guess she could be bored, but like I said, she gets a ton of exercise, has numerous toys, and always has a bone to chew on. My husband and I don’t have kids, so she gets a lot of attention from us. Short of throwing the ball to her every second of every waking moment, I don’t know how we could keep her more entertained. She’s a seriously stimulated dog. She is normally an inside dog (she sleeps inside, lays on the couch with us, spends most of her time there), but it would be nice to be able to let her run around in the grass for awhile without having to stand right on top of her. She likes it out there, too. When she’s in a non-digging mood, she’ll take her bone out there and lay in the sun, watch the neighbor kids play through the fence, or just tear around at top speed. Usually, however, she’s in a digging mood.

I too had this problem for quite some time with my wolf hybrid Zen. Only later did I find out that the neighbor’s dog (over the back fence) was high strung and playing the pathetic “damsel in distress” routine. So, Zen, being a studly hound would oblige and burrow over to rescue her. On top of this, it was finally revealed that the neighbor’s dog was digging from her side as well. That sure cut down on the whuppin’s for Zen.

Chaining Zen to a tree was one of the few things that interdicted the Houdini act. The final resolution was to get him some real entertainment in the form of a breeding bitch, which he is mercilessly humping even as I type this. Even then, I found that he had dug one hole under the fence and gained the wisdom to finally crawl back into the yard by the time I got home, but we’ll gloss over that right now. (Dem wolves be smart!)

My vet did make one good suggestion though. Go to your feed depot or butcher and buy a huge honkin’ femur (thigh) bone from a cow. Bury this almost entirely in the earth with only a few inches showing above ground. You may need to anchor the bone to the bottom of the pit if your animal is particularly strong.

Your critter will be so interested in gnawing off the small amount of bone that it can expose (a little at a time) that it will be distracted from its usual backhoe routine. This made about as much sense as anything that I’ve heard.

Past that, you may want to have a “designated digging area” and be done with it as was previously suggested.


I neglected to notice that you said you’re puppers is a BC/Lab cross. IOW, a bundle of energy. How about getting some unruly sheep? :wink: I don’t think it’s possible to tire a BC out. Good Luck.

That might be the best suggestion yet, porcupine. You’re right, she’s is one hopped up dog. My husband and I take her out to the golf course every evening. He walks on one side of the fairway and I walk on the other. This makes her desperate to herd us so that we walk together, so she runs back and forth between us at top speed. Then she comes home and digs a hole. :slight_smile:

Uh, Scuppers, it might be thought that your dog is not the one who’s dumb as a box of rocks…

C3, nothing wrong with fido a 12 guage wouldn’t take care of.

Seriously, some dogs are just diggers, and you’re gonna have to either live with it, try to confine their digging to one area, or lose the dog. All kinds of things you can (and should) try. You can probably find as many suggestions as there are training books at your pet store or on the library shelf. But no guarantees any will work.

Geez, I’d be a bit tweaked by the first sentence if the second didn’t make clear that you’re no one whose opinion I need to concern myself with.

You know, not all dogs cause the amount of damage you describe. Exactly what are the beast’s saving graces that make up for it destroying your home? But I’m sure you’ve done all you can do. It’s gotta be just some genetic thing beyond your control. After all, she has a certificate! And she’s been “visited” by experts. Have you tried a canine psychologist dear?

Not sure which is stupider- keeping such a destructive beast, or admitting same on a public forum.

I guess every pet needs a master, and you’ve got yours.

And I guess the “Seriously” leading off the 3d par wouldn’t suggest anything to you. Hey, here’s a dollar. Buy yourself a clue.

She’s very loving and a beautiful animal with a sweet but destructive nature.


The “certificate” remark was a testament to the worthlessness of such things. “Experts” was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the folks who described themselves as “behavioral specialists.”


What would you recommend? Oh, wait, we’ve covered that with your joke.


Probably the only thing we agree on.


Nothing, aside from the fact that you’re one of those folks who tosses off asinine comments and then couches them in what they believe to be humor.


I’ll go shop for one in The Pit, which is where anything we have to say to each other from this point forward probably belongs.

I’ll see your “probably” and raise you a “certainly.” I can’t believe this stuff arose in a simple thread about dogs.

Dinsdale, you started this – do not do it again. Others, do not rise to the bait. Have faith that Chronos and I will doing our job here, OK?

Do you have any moles in your yard? I also have a border collie/lab mix named Bandit and he only digs when moles are present. I had him on a leash at a park and before I knew what was happening, he dug up a mole, snapped its neck and dropped it back on the ground!

Bandit is a very high energy dog who needs a lot of excersize and attention. He herds our other two dogs, maybe you could get another dog?

At your wits end yet?
Sometimes you have to get physical.
Suggest a shock collar. Or when you see that the dog has dug a fresh hole scoop the dog up in your arms and throw it into the hole.Make it hurt.Throw dirt on the dog while it is in the hole. Anything that would make you mad if someone did it to you.
Sounds sort of cruel but you are enforcing the BAD DOG thing. You are telling the dog that that hole is making you very mad. Hopefully he/she will get the idea.