stop Australian shepherd from digging
Photo by Melissa Keizer.

How to Stop Australian Shepherd from Digging

Has your Australian Shepherd picked up the bad habit of digging your yard? Well, this behavior needs to be stopped immediately, as it could get out of hand. Fortunately, this is your top resource for understanding why your pooch is doing this and how to make sure it comes to an end.

Why is My Australian Shepherd Digging Holes?

First things first, let’s take a look at why your Australian Shepherd may have suddenly started digging up your garden:

Your Aussie is Under Stimulated

This is one of the most common reasons that Australian Shepherds start digging up yards. This is an incredibly energetic breed who requires a tremendous amount of exercise. If your dog doesn’t get the required amount, he or she will begin to look for other outlets. Digging is one of them.

Australian Shepherds are also fairly intelligent animals. If they aren’t receiving enough mental stimulation, they may act out due to boredom.

Your Aussie is Feeling Ignored

Many people are surprised to learn just how affectionate Australian Shepherds are. Even more so, these dogs love their humans and crave attention. They are constantly looking to spend time with their family.

If your dog is left alone by themselves for extended periods of time, they may begin to feel nervous or upset. Their loneliness may manifest in the form of digging behavior.

This may be especially true if your dog is trying to dig under a fence. It could be that they are trying to escape to find company.

Your Yard is Infested

It is easy to forget that Australian Shepherds have high prey drives. This means that if they see, hear, or smell vermin or other small critters, they may be obliged to go after them. This is true even if it means digging underground.

So, if the digging has suddenly manifested, it is a good idea to take a look around your yard, especially if you plant vegetables or other vegetation. If there is vermin damage, this could be what your dog is reacting to.

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It is a Core Behavior

It is important to realize that digging is hardwired into your dog’s DNA. It is something their canine ancestors did to keep themselves cool or to bury food.

If you have eliminated other reasons, then core behavior may be the cause of the digging behavior. In this case, though, it is unlikely that the digging will suddenly crop up. It may be something that your pooch has been doing all along.

Don’t worry, there is a way to end the digging even if this is the reason.

Finding a Solution – Understand the Cause

It is important to figure out the reason for your dog’s behavior before trying out any solutions. As you can see from above, there are several different reasons for why your pooch may be digging holes.

So, you should try to identify the trigger before doing anything else.

For instance, does your dog only dig on the days that you aren’t able to walk him or when you can only walk him in the evenings? If so, they simply have too much of pent up energy.

If the digging behavior only happens when you have been gone for several hours or when they have been left outside by themselves, then it is to do with a lack of attention.

In case your pup’s digging behavior begins during the warm months, they could be simply trying to cool down. If you have recently introduced another dog into the household, it could be a sign of anxiety or even trying to hide food from the new pet.

How to Stop Stop Your Aussie From Digging

Now let’s move onto some of the solutions you should try out to reduce and eventually stop your dog’s digging.

Exercise Your Australian Shepherd More

If it’s clear that your dog isn’t getting enough exercise, you should be making an effort to exercise them 1 to 2 hours a day.

Remember, it isn’t enough to just walk your dog. You should alternate their workouts with playing fetch, Frisbee, and even giving agility training a try. When your dog is tired, they will be less inclined to dig.

Also, you may want to consider changing the time of day you exercise your dog. If you wait until evening, then it could be that your pooch is digging out of boredom. Try waking up earlier in the morning and working them out then.

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If you have no choice but to spend extended periods of time away from your dog, you may want to invest in something like an automatic ball thrower. You can train your pooch to use it. In turn, they can keep themselves entertained until you get back.

Pay More Attention To Your Aussie

If your dog feels lonely or like you aren’t focusing on them as much, then digging will become a coping mechanism for them.

Keep in mind that they may do this even if you are home. However, if they are outside and you don’t check on them or interact with them on a regular basis, they may resort to digging.

Due to this, don’t let your dog go unsupervised for too long. Also, if you are in the house, then it may be a good idea to let them in as well. They may feel more at ease when they are able to follow you around or simply can be in the same general area as you.

If you are running errands or headed out somewhere that isn’t work, you should try to take your pooch with you. Get into this habit at an early age and they will learn to behave themselves on car rides and in public.

If you do work long hours, it may be a good idea to consider a doggy daycare for your pup. Being surrounded by other dogs and people may alleviate their feelings of stress and curb the digging.

Exercising with them beforehand and paying attention and cuddling them a few hours before you have to leave is a good habit to get into. When your dog is provided with activity and comfort, they may be less anxious at the idea of you leaving.

Interrupting the Behavior

The digging may not stop right away when you start exercising or pay attention to your dog. You have to make exercise or playtime a more desirable activity for them.

If you see your dog digging, interrupt this behavior immediately. Right away, engage in playtime, pets, walks, etc. Once you are done with this activity, make sure to reward the attention or physical activity with treats or cuddles.

This will help to reinforce the good behavior and slowly end the bad one.

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Create a Digging Zone For Your Aussie

If your Australian Shepherd has been digging since they were a puppy, this behavior could be ingrained in them. In this case, it is going to be pretty difficult to get rid of.

One option that you have is to create a digging zone for your pooch. This can be a single spot in the yard that they are allowed to dig.

Whenever you see your dog digging in other areas, stop them and move them towards the digging area. When they finally realize that they can dig here, make sure to reward them.

With time, they will figure out that this is the right spot for them.

If you want to maintain your yard in good condition, trying filling a kiddie pool or basin with sand and training your dog to dig here.

Keeping Vermin Out

As mentioned, your Australian Shepherd may be reacting to vermin or other small critters in your yard. In this case, the behavior will continue until you are able to keep the pests out of your garden.

Due to this, you may want to consider building up your fence or creating deterrents around your plants. These may work to stop the critters from getting in. In time, your pooch will calm down as well.

If you do have a vermin problem, then it is a good idea to keep an eye on your pooch while they are outside. This way, you will be able to stop them from digging.

You may also want to bring your dog in before the sun goes down. Many critters come out at night. Making sure your pooch is inside may help to curb this behavior.

There are many different reasons why your dog may be digging up your yard. The good news is that there are just as many solutions to this problem. Once you have identified the trigger, you can figure out how to go about curbing this behavior.

Remember to always use positive reinforcements and rewards instead of punishment to prevent digging. In many instances, your pooch is only digging as an automatic reaction to negative circumstances.

Remove these and you will have a happy, well-behaved pup once more. So, go ahead and give these tips and tricks a try today.