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6 Ways to Stop a Dog From Digging Up Your Plants [and Garden!]

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Stopping a dog from digging up plants in your garden or yard can feel impossible if your pup is blessed with a talent for creating holes. Some dogs are natural diggers, and some aren’t, but why would any dog go to all that work to dig a hole?

I have five dogs, three of which love to dig. While they dig, the other two look at them like they’re crazy. They just don’t have that digging instinct.

It’s similar to water. Some dogs love it, and some hate it. Two of mine love to swim, only one likes to play with the hose, and the other two aren’t sure about water. However, some circumstances can turn a non-digging dog into a practical tilling machine.

If your dog is a digger, what can you do to stop your dog from digging holes in your garden or lawn?

To stop a dog from digging up plants and creating holes in your yard or garden, you can keep them entertained and cool. Giving dogs exercise and company, offering them shelter, and using deterrents can also help keep them from digging.

Why Do Dogs Dig Up Plants and Gardens?


Dogs dig up plants, gardens, and yards because they are genetically predisposed to digging holes or have developed a habit of digging. Dogs may dig due to a breed trait, but digging may be a sign of boredom or stress in other cases.

So, let’s get to the bottom of this and investigate why dogs might start digging up your plants and garden.

Your Dog May Be Predisposed to Digging or Hunting

small dog digging
Small dogs, traditionally bred for hunting, make excellent diggers because they can fit into rabbit, gopher, and groundhog burrows to retrieve them.

Some dogs are earth dogs, according to the American Kennel Club.

Earth dogs naturally hunt for small animals and insects in the ground. Examples of such earth dogs are dachshunds and small terriers.

Over years of selective breeding, these dogs are the perfect companions for hunters who need help catching burrowing animals. For example, I had a fox terrier when I was little, and she always had her nose in a hole, sniffing out mice, rats, other rodents, and snakes.

However, few of us likely have these dogs for hunting purposes. Still, there’s little you can do about that instinct to dig except to be patient and set some boundaries with your dog.

Your Dog May Be Bored or Needs More Exercise

bored dog face
Boredom is no fun for dogs, and it’s no good for your garden if your dog likes to dig. So, get out and enjoy the day with your pup or play together indoors.

Most dogs need a lot of exercise. They might take out all their energy on your garden if they don’t get enough. Otherwise, they might chew up your shoes, harass the neighbor’s cat, or bark at small woodland creatures.

Even if you have a huge yard where your dog has lots of space to play, they may still need you to give them a good workout.

If your dog seems too energetic and frequently digs up your plants, you might need to add more playtime to your routine. In cases such as these, making your dog happy and giving them the activity they crave is what will save your plants from your dog’s digging. Everyone wins here.

Still, finding the time and energy to get enough play into the day can be challenging. That’s especially true when it’s very cold outside.

So, in the interest of helping you find ways to get enough activity in during the colder months, here’s a great article on cold-weather activities you can do with your dog!

Your Dog May Be Too Hot

dog digging on beach
While digging in the sand is fun, most dogs tend to dig up sandy beaches to find a cooler place to put their paws.

Another reason that dogs may dig is due to hot weather. Dogs dig when it’s hot for the same reason pigs roll in the mud. The earth is cooler and moister under the surface, and your dogs may be trying to get some relief.

So, to help your dog get some relief on a hot summer day, ensure they have plenty of water and a cool space to retreat to.

I know I just recommended exercise. However, if your dog digs due to heat, don’t let them run around in the full sun all day. Instead, move your playtime to a cooler point in the day. Early morning and evening are great times to spend some one-on-one time with your pup.

Your Dog May Be Lonely

Dogs are pack animals and don’t like to spend too much time alone. After all, that’s why they make such good companions for humans.

So, if your dog is bored and lonely, that’s likely bad news for your mulch and plants. In these cases, your dog may experience separation anxiety, looking for opportunities to take out their stress turn.

They just might eventually turn to the dirt.

How to Stop a Dog From Digging Up Plants In Your Yard

dog digging hole in garden
Dogs dig holes for lots of reasons!

To stop a dog from digging in your yard and destroying your garden plants, give them more exercise, offer them some toys and puzzles to keep them busy, consider getting your dog a companion, and use digging deterrents. You might also want to set up a digging zone for your pup.

Let’s unpack this and discuss the details to help you stop your dog from digging up plants in your yard.

1. Give Your Dog More Exercise to Stop Them From Digging Up Plants

golden retriever walking on gravel
Getting some exercise might be a great way to keep your dog from digging up your plants, but it’s also a healthy habit that will keep you and your pup happy.

Lots of exercise can stop your dog from digging up plants in your garden, especially if they’re digging because they’re bored.

Finding a good routine for playtime can help you ensure that you and your dog get enough activity. Plus, getting outdoors and playing games together is good for you, too.

Try taking your dogs on walks around the neighborhood after work or first thing in the morning. You could also go to a park and explore a bit when you have time.

You can also try doing agility training with your dog. Training is great because it strengthens your relationship and leaves you both feeling fulfilled.

Swimming at a nearby lake is another excellent way for both of you to get some exercise.

2. Offer Your Dog More Toys To Keep Them Busy

If your dog seems to be digging from boredom or separation anxiety, Get some interactive toys to keep them busy. Dog toys are much more than stuffed animals and tennis balls these days. It never fails to amaze me how cool they can be.

For example, my dogs love toys like these treat-dispensing balls and puzzles!

Here are some great toys and a wonderful book full of incredible ideas to keep them busy:

Daily training can also keep your dog from becoming bored, giving them something to look forward to. I know my dogs always look forward to 7:00 PM, their training time. They will even pull me away from whatever I’m doing to make sure I give them plenty of treats.

3. Consider Getting Your Dog Some Companions

golden retriever and cat snuggling
We all get lonely, and dogs might resort to digging when they don’t have anyone to interact with for long periods of the day. A friend can keep your dog happy and entertained, even when you’re not around.

If your dog is the only pet, you might want to think twice about getting your dog a friend. Two dogs keep each other occupied, leaving less time for digging holes. Plus, if your dog is genuinely lonely, getting them a friend would be best for their happiness and health.

Friends don’t necessarily have to be dogs, either. Your dog might be friends with a cat, chicken, or horse. One of my dogs spends quite a few hours a day running up and down the fence line with his horse friends.

4. Use a Digging Deterrent or Repellent To Stop Dogs From Digging Up Plants

rue flowers
Rue is an excellent repellent for digging dogs, and it’s a beautiful flower that’ll add some color to that bare patch.

Dogs often like to dig in the same spot over and over again.

So, to stop them from digging up your plants, watch them for a few days and identify the digging spots. Then, place some large rocks there to stop your dog from digging there. Otherwise, you can use some fencing mesh to block off the area.

Just make sure it’s not sharp or dangerous for your pup in any way!

You can use scents to deter them from digging too.

Rue, for example, is a very effective flea-repellent plant, and it also works to keep dogs and cats away. You can use lemon peels, vinegar, cayenne – anything with a strong, non-appealing scent.

5. Give Your Dog a Cool Spot and Plenty of Water In Hot Weather

Providing your pup with indoor access or a dog house in warm weather might solve your digging problem if your dogs only dig when it’s hot outside.

I highly recommend doggie doors for your pets so they always have the option to step inside.

However, if you spend a lot of time outside with your dog or if your dog is outdoors-only, giving them a “chill spot” can help you keep them from digging.

Providing them with shade and water goes a long way in keeping them happy.

6. Create a Place Where It’s Okay for Your Dog to Dig

We have a dig zone. Not because we chose to have a dig zone, but because our dogs love to dig there so much, there was nothing that would stop them.

All I do is fill it back up when it gets too big, deep, or awkward to mow around.

I’ve planted lots of plants around the hole, too.

It creates a shady, cool zone for our dogs to chill and dig as they see fit. Make sure you choose tough, perennial plants because if your dogs are like mine, they’ll plop themselves right in the middle of them!

elle and dog
But then, who could deny this face?!


Dogs might dig up your plants, garden, yard, or any other area with enough dirt for many reasons, ranging from loneliness to a natural hunting instinct.

Sometimes, you might want to create a particular spot for your dogs to dig. Still, you can also use deterrents like fencing to keep them out of your garden.

Still, the most effective solution to keep a dog from digging up your plants is to make sure your dog is happy. Give them plenty of exercise, keep them cool in the summer, and give them plenty of affection and company. These solutions won’t just stop your dog from digging – they’ll make you and your pup much more content.

More Reading on Dogs and Keeping Animals:

6 Ways to Stop Your Dog From Digging Up Your Garden

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