Digging dogs can be a real problem. The digging can destroy your yard or garden. It can cause a huge mess, and it can give your dogs a way to escape. The good news is that there are ways to stop dogs from digging.
First, you have to determine why your dog digs. There are three main reasons. One of the easiest to correct is when your dog digs because it wants to cool off. If your dog is in the back yard all day without any shelter from the hot sunshine, he's going to try to find some comfort. Burrowing into the ground is one way for him to cool off.
Another reason dogs dig is frustration. Imagine being cooped up in a yard with all sorts of sounds and smells going by just beyond your reach. That's a really difficult situation for your dog. He wants to get out there and interact with those people and other animals. The desire to get to the other side of the fence can motivate dogs to start digging.
A third reason dogs dig is simply because they are bored. Like people, dogs need a way to keep themselves occupied. Even if they are only outside for a half an hour, there's a good chance your dog is going to get tired of simply basking in the sun and is going to start looking for other ways to stay busy and pass the time. Since digging is a natural behavior for most dogs, your garden will become your dog's new favorite toy.
You can learn more about why dogs dig by reading How to Stop Your Dog From Digging (PDF), a brochure created by the Oregon Humane Society.
The good news is that digging dogs can be stopped once you understand their motivation. For example, if your dog digs to stay cool, then invest in some type of shelter – a dog house or a cover for the dog run – that will provide him with a way to get out of the hot sun or other elements.
Dogs who are frustrated or bored require a little more creativity. However, the best way to stop the behavior is not to leave them outside unsupervised for long periods of time. If you're outside with them, then you can correct the unwanted behavior. If he's outside alone while you're at work, then he'll be able to dig without worrying about you scolding him.
Of course, if you have to keep him outside, you should accept that he's going to dig. Digging dogs should then be given an alternative place to dig – one you don't mind if they destroy. Set aside a portion of your yard, fill it with soil or play sand. Then encourage your dog to dig there by burying pieces of bone, favorite toys, or even treats in the area. You can find more tips on protecting your garden from digging dogs (and your dog from your garden) by reading Garden Tips for Dog People from the Partnership for Animal Welfare.
If you don't want your dog to dig at all, then provide him with plenty of other toys and bones to keep him occupied and make sure you take him on a long walk before placing him in the backyard. The walk will drain away some of the excess energy in your dog which leads to those feelings of frustration and boredom.