A dog digs a hole in the back yard of his home.

Hi Cesar,

My boyfriend and I have three dogs. Two are Rottweilers (three years old and one-year-old) and one is a Labrador retriever (nine months old). Our dogs love to dig and now our backyard is in shambles. We tried burying their poop in the holes so they would not dig anymore, but that didn’t stop them.

We are moving to a new house and want to break them of that habit. Is there something else we can do to stop the digging?

Please help!


Cindy Kozma

Cesar Millan’s Answer:

Hi Cindy,

We know that digging can be harmful to people’s environments, but, at the same time, digging for some dogs is an activity that keeps them balanced. Digging is a form of exercise and distraction, and, for a dog, it can be simply a matter of being bored and having nothing else to do. It’s especially common if it’s in their breed to be diggers; when it’s part of their nature, they’ll often drain some of that extra energy by doing something that they are instinctually familiar with.

Human parents will bring their child to the playground and let them play in the sandbox because digging is part of our nature as well.  Today, we don’t use that ability often, but deep in our genes, we still crave it. So we have a specific place we allow kids to dig. That can be one option for you – to make a specific place in your yard where your dogs are allowed to do their digging.  If that is still not acceptable to you, you need to find a way to drain the energy they release by digging.  Exercise is always the best way to drain any dog’s pent-up energy. Running with your dog, swimming with your dog, hiking with your dog – there are so many options.

So my question to you would be: do you know the energy levels of your dogs and are you challenging them enough physically so that they don’t feel the need to dig, bark, jump, or chew? Are they exercising, and for how long? If it isn’t long enough, then I would recommend intensifying that exercise. If you don’t have enough time, that’s when I would recommend putting backpacks on them, which can help by turning 30 minutes of actual exercise into an hour.

Stay calm and assertive,
Cesar Millan

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