What Can I Spray on My Yard to Keep Dogs From Digging?

Dogs may dig for numerous reasons. While it can be cute, this can tear up your yard and make a big mess. Figuring out why your dog is digging in the first place is key. There are many ways to deter digging so you can have some peace of mind and keep your yard looking great. What might discourage one dog may not work for all dogs, so some trial and error may be involved.

Digging Dog
Dogs may dig for numerous reasons.
credit: btplaczek/iStock/GettyImages

Is cayenne pepper safe?

Cayenne pepper is not harmful to your dog or puppy if swallowed or ingested. However, the American Kennel Club states that it can cause eye irritation if the dog gets the cayenne pepper on their paws or rubs their face in it. For this reason, it's best to use another scent to deter your dog instead.

Give citrus a try

Oranges, lemons, and grapefruit are a very strong and overpowering scent for dogs, even though us humans enjoy it. You can protect your lawn by placing slices of oranges or lemons throughout it. They also recommend spraying lemon water as a dog digging deterrent.

Vinegar as a deterrent

Vinegar is a smell dogs strongly dislike, so it can discourage them from digging in your yard. Vinegar can be unhealthy for plants, so do not spray it directly on your lawn or garden. HowStuffWorks recommends soaking biodegradable coffee filters in white vinegar and then allow them to dry in the sun. When they are dry, cut the filters into thin strips and scatter them around your yard to keep dogs from digging in that area.

Ammonia dog digging repellent

Ammonia is very strong and one of the scents dogs dislike the most. However, it can kill plants. So if you want to use it to prevent digging, you can soak coffee filters with ammonia and use the same process as with vinegar. This will keep your grass happy.

Use citronella oil

Much like insects, dogs do not enjoy the smell of citronella, so it makes for a great digging repellent. Garden Season recommends mixing a half cup of citronella oil with four cups or water and putting it into a spray bottle. They recommend spraying the mixture wherever you do not want your dog to dig for a week or until your dogs gets in the habit of avoiding these areas.

Try mustard oil

Do do not like the taste or smell of mustard oil. According to Garden Season, you can spray a small amount where you do not want your dog to go and it works well as a repellent. Once your dog gets a whiff of it, they will avoid that space.

Spray essential oils

Several essential oils work great as a natural way to discourage digging. While us humans may use essential oils for their fresh scent, certain ones are unappealing to dogs. Garden & Happy recommends eucalyptus, lemon, cinnamon, sour apple, orange, and lemon eucalyptus essential oils. They suggest using food grade or therapeutic grade essential oils, not ones that you diffuse for scent.

Diffusing essential oils may have harmful chemicals added to them and are not recommended. Add a few drops of these essential oils to water and mix in a spray bottle. Spray where your dog is digging to keep them away.

Use rubbing alcohol

The strong scent of rubbing alcohol will keep dogs away. Do not apply rubbing alcohol directly on plants or grass as it is harmful to them. You also want to avoid spraying it to avoid getting in in your eyes or your dog's eyes. Instead, Garden & Happy recommends soaking cotton balls in rubbing alcohol and scatter them in your yard or use soaked coffee filters the same way you would vinegar and ammonia. Dogs will not go near the the spot once they get a whiff of rubbing alcohol.

Dog poop . . . seriously

Need a last resort? Try using your dog's own poop! This unexpected suggestion actually works quite well. Garden & Happy suggests scooping up some of your dog's poop and bury it in a hole near where your dog has been digging. Your dog will smell their poop and avoid digging it up. Once your dog has been trained to leave the spot alone, you can remove the poop and refill the hole. Stop your dog from digging with this home remedy.

Create a digging zone

If your dog really enjoys digging, the Humane Society recommends creating a designated digging space in your yard. Either use a child sized sand box or create your own digging area with sand or soil. Hide items your dog's toys in the designated digging area to encourage digging here. When your dog digs there, praise them verbally or with a treat to reinforce this new positive behavior.

If you catch your dog digging in another area of the yard, the Humane Society recommends stopping the behavior with a loud noise and firmly say, "No dig." Then immediately redirect them to take them to the designated digging zone. Your dog will appreciate you allowing them to continue this fun activity in a more positive way.

Why do dogs dig?

There are many reasons that a dog may start digging in your yard. According to the American Kennel Club, the most common reasons are boredom and anxiety. If dogs are bored they may dig just for fun. They may also notice that it gets your attention. even if it is negative attention.

If they are merely bored, try adding toys or playing and exercising them more. The American Kennel Club also notes that your dog may also be trying to escape since dogs are very good escape artists.

Some dogs dig as stress relief. They may be suffering from separation anxiety according to the America Kennel Club. Digging provides mental and physical stimulation. If the is the case, try providing your pup with other ways to keep occupied, such as toys and more exercise and play once you get home.

Try using some of these scents and see which one your dog responds to best. Each dog is unique and what works for one dog may not work for another. Some trial and error as well as patience may be needed. Your yard and garden will thank you.