How to keep an excited dog from digging up the yard

January 21, 2019

Dear Joan: Every now and then, my daughter brings over her dog to spend the day or night with us while she is away on business. The dog is a mixed breed, I guess, but looks a bit like a friendly Doberman with a long tail.

My daughter lives in a condo with no yard; our home has a fair-size yard. Consequently, the dog loves to run around in our yard and dig holes in our lawn. By “holes,” I mean small craters about 10 inches deep and 12 inches round, and sometimes 24 inches long. There might be five or six holes to as many as 14, dug during a three-hour period.

Filling the holes and patching them with new grass doesn’t last. The next time the dog is here, the repaired spots are dug up all over again.

The dog also bites off branches from the smaller trees.

I cannot fence this all in nor keep the dog on a leash away from the lawn. Is there any way to keep the dog from ruining our yard?

— Don Senger

DEAR DON: The first step is to figure out why the dog is so intent on digging.

Some dogs are more naturally prone to digging than others, but because the dog spends a good deal of time in a condo with no access to a yard of its own, I think when he comes over, he’s burning off hours and hours of inactivity. He is the canine equivalent of a kid in a candy store. Dirt! Trees! Grass! Must run, must dig, must taste it all.

When you have a dog like that, there are some things you can do. The first is to find other distractions for him. Take him for long walks and play fetch with him to help burn off some of that energy.

You’ll need to stay outside with him and every time he starts to dig, say no and then distract him with a treat or a toy. Invest in some toys for him to play with on his own, including ones that dispense treats but require the dog to work for them, or sturdy chew toys.

Instead of trying to fence the dog out, consider fencing him in. If possible, create an area where it would be OK for him to dig such as a fenced sand pit or sand box.

There’s also a chance the dog might be after gophers, moles or some other critters living in the ground. You should check that out and get rid of them, if you do.

Dogs need to run and play to be happy and healthy, but they don’t have to be destructive. Aim for the middle ground — and hope the dog doesn’t dig it up, too.



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