Discovering that your beautiful, carefully manicured lawn suddenly looks like a minefield is frustrating to say the least. Your “perfect” Goldendoodle is now methodically scheming to destroy your sanity, as well as your property value.
Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Many dog owners suffer from the same problem – dealing with a dog who has developed a strange affection for digging.
How do I stop my Goldendoodle from digging? Increasing your dog’s physical activity and providing mentally stimulating activities are helpful first-steps in combating their digging problem. The instinct to dig is common to all dogs but often becomes an obsessive behavior with dogs who do not receive enough daily exercise and become bored.
Let’s look at the root-causes of doggy digging and other ways you can stop them from making more holes. Be sure to read the funny (and surprising) ways some owners have gotten their pups to kick the habit.
Do Goldendoodles Like to Dig?
Simply put, yes. Many Goldendoodles love to dig. Although this is frustrating to owners, Goldendoodles are only acting on instinct and honestly seem to have trouble understanding what the big deal is all about.
Digging is a natural behavior for all dogs. Both of the Goldendoodle’s parent breeds, the Golden Retriever and the Poodle, often can’t help themselves when presented with a digging opportunity, and their offspring, the Goldendoodle, shares the same fondness for creating craters.
Many dog behavior experts believe that the need to dig is a throwback to ancient times when digging was essential to a dog’s survival.
Before domestication, dogs would create dens for a number of reasons. Dens provided shelter from the elements, a safe place to rest, and a cozy, sheltered location for whelping.
In Elizabeth Marshall Thomas’ fascinating book, The Hidden Life of Dogs (Amazon), she documents her observances of dog behavior when dogs are allowed to be themselves, without much human meddling.
Thomas describes how her own pack of dogs, when kept outdoors in a large fenced area, covertly created a 15-foot tunnel, with an almost invisible entrance, leading to a den deep inside complete with a domed ceiling. She says, “The den was the dogs’ crowning achievement and the focus of their lives.” Wow.
So, digging is instinctive behavior. That much is clear. With today’s dogs living rather pampered lives, digging is no longer necessary for survival. So why do dogs (yes, even Goldendoodles) still find such pleasure in digging?
Why Do They Like To Dig?
Goldendoodles may dig for a variety of reasons. By observing your dog closely, you might learn what motivates him to destroy your yard. Then again, you might not. Some dogs just simply delight in digging.
It is entirely possible that your Goldendoodle is digging holes because there is nothing better to do. Bored dogs often resort to their own form of entertainment – what owners call destructive behavior.
Lack of Exercise
Could your dog not be getting enough exercise? Goldendoodles are energetic and need a daily workout to release some of that boundless energy. Bulldozing your yard may just be your dog’s way of expending his energy.
Tracking Down a Scent
Dogs are able to hear and smell things that people can’t. There is a chance that your Goldendoodle is sensing the movement of creatures underground. Moles, voles, gophers, rats, and mice could be enticing your dog to excavate the yard.
Escaping the Heat
If the weather is warm, your dog may be digging holes to escape the heat. The further underground he digs, the cooler the soil is. An all-natural air conditioner designed and built by your dog. Pretty impressive.
Plotting an Escape
Goldendoodles do not have a reputation for being escape artists, but if your dog has a buddy on the other side of the fence or picks up on a female in heat down the street, your four-legged friend might be working on an upcoming Houdini stunt.
If your Goldendoodle digs while left alone outside for long periods, he could be suffering from separation anxiety. Goldendoodles are very people-oriented and sometimes do not cope well when left alone. Digging could be his way of relieving this anxiety.
Does your dog only dig holes when he is afraid? Loud noises, like thunder or noisy trucks, can be scary for dogs and might trigger the instinct to burrow into a protective hole.
Dog behaviorist Caesar Millan suggests that participating in an instinctive, natural activity like digging helps to keep a dog mentally “balanced.” So, digging might be a healthy activity for your pup (source).
Spend time watching your dog to see if you can unearth (yep, pun intended) exactly what is triggering the digging behavior. Finding the cause, or lack thereof is the first step in correcting the issue.
How to Stop Your Goldendoodle From Digging
Unfortunately, there is no magic cure or one-size-fits-all remedy for digging. You may need to try several suggestions or a combination of tips before you figure out what works for you.
- More Exercise — One of the most important things that you can do to stop your Goldendoodle from digging is to increase his amount of daily exercise. A tired dog is much less likely to engage in destructive behavior.
- Mental Stimulation — Providing your dog with plenty of mentally stimulating activities will help too. Goldendoodles are quite intelligent and benefit from strenuous mental endeavors.
- New Tricks — Try teaching him some new tricks or purchasing (or making your own if you’re so inclined) a couple of puzzle games and chew toys to help relieve boredom and to exercise his intellectual abilities.
- Supervision Outside — Instead of leaving your dog outside to entertain himself, stay out with him and play a vigorous game of fetch or Frisbee. Staying engaged with him daily through playtime satisfies his desire for human interaction, helps to burn off excess energy, and strengthens the bond that you have with him.
- Provide Shady Spots — If it is hot outside, make sure he has a cool, shaded spot to rest. Providing a kiddie pool for him to splash in is another option that may dissuade him from creating his own cool crater.
- Remove Pesty Critters — Consult a professional exterminator if you suspect that your dog’s digging is an attempt to annihilate the local rodent population.
- Water Them Down — If there is only a particular area of your yard that you would prefer to keep pristine, consider a more aggressive approach and install a motion-activated sprinkler system to protect the area. NOTE: This will not work if you have pup (like mine) who loves water.
What’s Working For Other Owners?
Believe it or not, one of the most common solutions we found owners talking about was putting dog poop in the holes they dig! Yep, you read it right. See for yourself:
“The only thing that’s actually deterred my pup is to put his poop in the holes he makes. I know confinement and keeping an eye on him is also helpful as well as EXERCISE because it could just be pent up energy.”
Here’s another option that was recommended…
You could try building a designated ‘digging area’ and train them accordingly. Think of this as the dog’s sandbox. It can be constructed with a few landscaping timbers and some sandbox sand (this stuff).
Bury some toys or treats, and praise him when he digs in his special area. A kiddie pool could also be transformed into a digging playground.
Just know that if you go this route, you’ll be brushing sand out of their fur instead of dirt and mud. 🙂
Are There Natural Dog Digging Deterrents?
There are several ways to deter digging without the use of harmful chemicals.
- Make use of the holes while adding beauty simultaneously by planting rose bushes in problem areas. This won’t work for holes in the middle of the yard.
- Bury chicken wire just below ground level in places your dog digs.
- Sprinkle cayenne pepper or chili powder in his digging zones.
Is There a Spray to Stop Dogs From Digging?
You can use deterrent sprays such as Grannick’s Bitter Apple or a no-dig spray. But honestly, you’re probably better off getting creative and making your own.
Here are 2 commonly recommended ideas:
- Make a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar or water and ammonia. Add some cayenne pepper or a few drops of a citrus essential oil to make this mix even more potent. Use a spray bottle (like this one on Amazon) and spray in areas your dog likes to dig. Be aware that vinegar and ammonia can damage lawns and sensitive plants.
- You could also heat one chopped onion, one hot pepper, and citrus peels in 2 quarts of water on the stove. Let cool, strain to remove solids, and add a few drops of dish soap. Put the mixed solution in a spray bottle and spray the areas they’re digging in, generously. Caution: This will also kill grass, so be careful.