How to Stop a Lab Puppy From Digging

Some Labs dig from boredom when you're not home.

Some Labs dig from boredom when you're not home.

Labs are like kids: They love to play in the yard and search for treasures. As a natural retriever, the Lab has an instinct to dig that is difficult to break. Luckily, Labs are also super-smart and eager to please, according to the Dog Breed Info Center, so a hole-free yard is in your near future.

Walk your Lab twice per day. A 30-minute walk in the morning followed by a 30- to 60-minute walk a half-hour after dinner helps your Lab burn off his ample energy. Digging helps your Lab release pent-up excitement -- but if he gets sufficient exercise his desire to dig will be reduced. In addition to daily walks, your Lab will benefit from a game of fetch with a ball or a Frisbee.

Lay a strip of chain-link fencing that's 2 feet wide on the ground around the perimeter of your fenced yard. Attach it to the bottom of the fence. This prevents your Lab from being able to escape by digging under the fence. The surface will be uncomfortable for your dog to walk on, and he's not going to be able to dig a tunnel if the fence strip is wide enough. Other options include burying chicken wire below the fence or burying the fence a few feet below the ground's surface.

Correct your pup in the act. If you walk outside and your Lab is digging, loudly say “No!" When he looks at you, give him a treat. Once he stops digging, distract him with play. If he returns to digging, say “No!” again, giving him a treat when he responds to you. He will soon realize he gets the treat when he stops digging.

Insert his feces into his favorite digging locations and then re-cover the area. The scent of your Lab's own feces should discourage him from digging in that spot, according to Labradors Worldwide.

Create an approved dig area for your Lab puppy. Use a child-size sandbox and fill it with soil. Bury toys and bones in the dirt for him to find. If you catch him digging outside of the dig zone, say “No!” and bring him to the approved spot for digging.

Items you will need

  • Treats
  • Toys
  • Chain-link fencing
  • Chicken wire (optional)
  • Sandbox (optional)
  • Soil (optional)


  • By digging a hole, your Lab protects himself from environmental elements. Keep your Lab inside on hot, cold or windy days.
  • Consider adopting a second dog. If your Lab spends a lot of time alone, a canine companion may distract him from digging and give him a playmate to help burn energy. You'll come home to a tired dog.


  • Avoid toxic or dangerous methods for removing burrowing animals or insects from the yard since something unsafe for wildlife is also unsafe for you Lab.
  • Punishing a Lab for digging can increase digging provoked by anxiety. Physical punishment can cause even a Lab to gain an aggressive temperament.

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About the Author

Melissa McNamara is a certified personal trainer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa. She writes for various health and fitness publications while working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing.

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