SPCA New Zealand

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Advice & welfare

Ask a behaviourist
How to stop your dog from digging up the garden?

We recently adopted a rescue puppy, Jack, earlier this year. Now he’s six months old Jack has started digging up my veggie garden while I’m at work! How do I get him to stop?

Congratulations on the recent addition to your family! It sounds like Jack might be a bit bored and digging is a way to keep busy during the day. Puppies are a lot of fun, but they also need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to ensure they are happy and healthy.

Make sure you’re providing an appropriate outlet for Jack’s energy. Give him interactive toys to play with, or food-dispensing toys such as a kong or food puzzle toy, and ensure he’s getting enough exercise by going for walks every day. You could also consider doggy daycare, a friend or family member or a dog walker while you’re at work. Training is also a requirement at this age, so when adolescence is kicking in, be sure to enrol in a basic (or advanced) obedience class with a qualified positive trainer who can give you the tools to guide Jack through this time.

Dogs can also be destructive when they are anxious.

In cases like this I recommend families video their dog while they are out of the home. With the help of a qualified veterinary behaviourist, you can determine if the digging is out of boredom or a more serious issue such as separation anxiety.

Regardless of the reason for the digging, the very best way to protect your veggie garden is to restrict him from the area! Put up a fence or block access to the garden, and only let Jack back in once you’re confident he won’t be destructive.

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