Sassy uncovers the dirt on digging dogs


Dear Sassy,

How do I stop my dog from digging holes in the backyard?

Dear Digger,

Almost all dogs will dig on occasion. Certain dog breeds, such as Dachshund and Terriers, were bred to dig into burrows after rabbits and other small game. However, any dog breed can develop a digging habit for many reasons: Boredom, Physical Comfort, Escape, Anxiety, or Hunting.

Step one in solving the problem is to diagnose why your dog digs. Then you can follow advice tailored to your (and your dog’s) situation. According to the Humane Society, “Not getting enough exercise is a leading cause of problem behaviors.”

Boredom:  If your dog is being left alone in the yard for long periods of time, he might be digging to entertain himself.

Sassy suggests entertaining your dog by playing fetch.  Also, put dog biscuits inside a Hol-ee Roller X Extreme or put peanut butter or freeze wet dog food inside of a rubber Kong toy to keep him busy while you are away.  Take him on daily walks to help burn off excess energy.  Teach and practice tricks and commands each day.

Escape:  If your dog is digging holes along the fence line or under the fence, he is most likely trying to escapeTry to determine why your dog is trying to escape.  Is he bored?  Or is he being led by his sex drive? 

Sassy suggests neutering (or spaying a female) your dog to help keep him from escaping to find a mate.  To deter digging, you can also bury chicken wire or large rocks along the bottom of the fence line.  Do not leave your dog unsupervised in the yard for long periods of time.

Anxiety: Your dog may be digging under the fence because he has separation anxiety or is scared by something else, like thunder.

Sassy suggest you speak with your vet about ways to help with anxiety issues.

Physical comfort:  If your dog is lying down in the large holes he digs, he may be trying to cool himself in the moist dirt.   Or he could be digging a place to provide protection from the weather or to find water.  

Sassy suggests you keep dogs inside on very hot or cold days.  Make sure he has good shelter, shade and plenty of water.  He may even enjoy a wading pool during the summer months!

Hunting:  If your dog digs near the roots of trees or shrubs or just in certain places in the yard, he may be seeking small burrowing animals or insects that live under the soil.

Sassy suggests you consult an exterminator who can help you rid your yard of the prey.  Remember to use pet friendly solutions, such as a mole repeller that uses sound to get rid of the pets.


Sassy says, “No to Punishment.” You might be tempted to punish your dog for digging holes.  However, physical or verbal reprimands won’t solve the behavior problem and may make the issue worse if the dog becomes fearful or anxious. 

 Allow Your Dog to Dig?

If your attempts to deter your dog from digging fail.  It is recommended to designate a digging area in your yard.   Make a sandbox or fill a wading pool with loose soil or sand.  Bury bones, treats and toys in the sandbox to encourage digging in the designated area.  Create a game of finding his favorite toys in the sand and praise him when he digs in the correct area.  Say “No Dig” if you see him digging in another area and then redirect him to the sandbox.

What does the Dog Whisperer Say?

“…make a specific place in your yard where your dogs are allowed to do their digging.” suggests Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan, author of dog training book Cesar’s Way.  “If that is still not acceptable to you, you need to find a way to drain the energy they release by digging.  Exercise is always the best way to drain any dog’s pent-up energy. Running with your dog, swimming with your dog, hiking with your dog – there are so many options.”

Sassy gives advice to dogs and their people, with the help of her person Martha Caster Lloyd.   Martha owns a Pet Sitting & Cage Free Grooming Service in Sachse, TX (

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Sassy would like you to help her friend Sheba

Sheba has been at the Rowlett Animal Shelter a long time and her time is running out!  Sheba’s a favorite at the shelter.  She is a very loveable two year old Shepherd mix.  She is a calm dog and likes to be by someone’s side.  She would make someone a great best friend.  She likes to play with toys and will quietly entertain herself.

Sheba is about 40lb medium sized dog and is now available to adopt. This dog has been tested positive for heartworms and started on Revolution.  The vet has prescribed Heartguard to cure her heartworms and she comes with almost 2 year supply.  She is spayed and has been given a Rabies shot, DHPPC combination shot, Bordatella and Strongid T. worming. The adoption fee for this animal is $30 for Rowlett residents, $25 for non residents and $5 for seniors.

If you are interested in meeting Sheba, visit the Rowlett Animal Shelter, 4402 Industrial St, Rowlett, TX. 75088   Phone: 972.412.6219


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