How to Stop Boston Terrier Digging

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by Lily Ferreras


Does your Boston dig like a maniac?

Digging is a common behaviour problem for Boston Terrier owners. This usually happens when a Boston is left alone and full of energy for long periods.

Want to preserve your garden, backyard or lawn, keeping it “patch-free”? You’re in the right place! Continue reading to discover how to stop your Boston Terrier from digging up all your garden!

Do Boston Terriers Like to Dig?

I’ll make a prediction and say since you’re reading this, then there’s a 90% chance that yours definitely does!

Boston Terriers love to burrow and dig holes (and your garden is a prime candidate); digging is in their nature.

Did you know that the word “terrier” comes from the French word “Terre”, which means earth? The connection between this breed and the earth dates back to its love to dig the earth.

But, do they dig for a particular reason? It’s important to understand why your Boston digs to prevent this behaviour.


Why Do Boston Terriers Dig?

Digging holes is actually a natural instinct that is harmless. However, if your pooch is digging holes excessively, there might be another reason behind this behaviour. 

While digging is a healthy and common canine behaviour, it can be a source of stress for dog owners. It’s perfectly understandable that you get upset every time your Boston digs your backyard.

Apart from holes, your pooch can easily chew flowers destroy your garden.

So, it’s essential to find out the reason your Terrier is constantly expressing himself by digging.

Here are the main reasons why Boston Terriers dig (source):

  • Genetics: Boston Terrier’s need to dig is wired in their genes. This breed is the result of crossing an English White Terrier (now extinct) and a Bulldog. Terriers were bred as farm dogs and used for hunting small game like rabbits. They were required to dig holes and burrow into them to get their prey. That behaviour is rooted in most Terriers, including Boston Terriers. So, if you have rodents or pests that hang around your garden, your dog might be trying to stop them by catching them.
  • Boredom response: If your Boston digs up your roses for fun, then he’s bored. If your pooch has nothing to do, he’s likely to dig (i.e. he will find a fun and entertaining activity).
  • Stress relief: Digging is a stress reliever. It’a way for your Boston to deal with anxiety and fear. If he starts digging holes as soon as you leave the garden, this is usually a sign that your dog is experiencing separation anxiety.
  • Escape opportunity: If your Boston Terrier digs holes under fences, this usually means that he’s trying to escape. Don’t leave your pup alone or unsupervised in your garden. He might have seen things outside of your garden that captured his attention (an object, a person, or another dog). Remember that dogs are naturally curious!

Also, Boston Terriers like to burrow under the covers. It’s another instinctive behaviour.

Bostons can be major snugglers. They have bed-hogging tendencies and love to burrow under a blanket, possibly next to you! I think this side of them is adorable and probably you are happy to indulge your pooch. 😉

According to dog behaviourists, this burrowing behaviour could also be a result of anxiety. This can be the case if your pooch spends long hours alone.

Read also: Why Do Boston Terriers Sleep Under Covers?


How to Stop Boston Terrier Digging

Whenever you “catch” your Boston digging, the best (but hard) thing to do is control your urge to shout and ask him to come over. A reaction from you only reinforces this behaviour.

You won’t be able to immediately stop your Boston Terrier from digging, however, you can prevent excessive digging and redirect him to an acceptable digging spot.

Depending on the root cause of the digging (mentioned above), here are some solutions:

  • Genetic root solutions:
    • Arrange an acceptable digging spot outdoors.
    • Add a safe digging opportunity indoors.
    • Swap bones with toys.
  • Boredom root solutions:
    • Provide physical and mental stimulation.
  • Escape root solutions:
    • Dog-proof your garden.
  • Other solutions:
    • Prevent overheating.
    • Trim your Boston Terrier’s nails.

#1 – Arrange an Acceptable Digging Spot Outdoors

Boston Terriers are diggers because it’s part of their nature.

This is why it is important to understand your dog’s natural instincts so you can then be able to channel it in a non-destructive way.

The best thing that you can do for both of you is to have a dedicated digging spot by, for example, getting a sandbox. You can get a compact plastic sandbox or bigger wooden sandbox (Amazon links).

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Get a sandbox for kids, the size will depend on your dog’s size really (not the size of your garden), so make sure you have the space for it!
  2. Fill it with clean sand.
  3. Bury your dog’s favourite chew toys.
  4. If it’s the first time your dog is playing with a sandbox, show him how to dig the toys up.
  5. Soon he will understand that he will be rewarded for his efforts — and you will avoid having to deal with a messy garden or fill in another hole along your fence!
  6. Praise your Boston when he uses his sandbox.

Insider Tip: After your dog finishes playing, make sure to cover the sandbox to avoid neighbourhood cats and other animals using it as a litter box.

Also, make sure that kids don’t use it or leave their toys in it!

If you don’t provide a way for your Boston Terrier to exercise and express his nature, he will continue to dig up your borders or make holes in your lawn. So create a digging pit and encourage your pooch to dig in this spot.

Read also: How to Make Your Garden Dog-Friendly And Safe to protect both your dog and your garden!

A dedicated digging spot for your Boston Terrier.

#2 – Add a Safe Digging Opportunity Indoors

If you don’t have a garden, you could take a trip to the beach!

I bet your pooch finds the change of scenario refreshing. 🙂 So many new smells… plus, there’s the chance to get in the water too!

However, I’ve also found an indoor alternative that comes in very handy! An indoors mat such as iDig Go Digging Toy by iFetch and a Dog Snuffle Mat can be a great addition to your Boston Terrier’s room.

#3 – Swap Bones with Toys

If your Boston is always digging in order to bury a bone, I would suggest that you stop giving him bones. Substitute them with chewing toys like a textured ring or a flavoured bone.

#4 – Provide Physical and Mental Stimulation

Prevent boredom at all costs!

This is the main reason for mischief and many behaviour problems, so make sure your Boston gets plenty of exercise, training sessions and playtime during the day.

Remember that an adult Boston Terrier needs at least 1 hour of exercise daily.

If you are running out of ideas to keep your pooch entertained, use our How to Keep My Dog Entertained While at Work guide.


#5 – Dog-Proof Your Garden

Whether your Boston has wanderlust tendencies or not, you should reinforce your garden fence and gate. Better be safe than sorry!

The best way to make the garden perimeter safe and secure is to:

  1. Measure your garden fence and decide if it’s dog safe. Most dogs will be okay with a 24-inch barrier.
  2. Check the fence for any holes or spaces where your dog might be able to squeeze through and patch them up if necessary. Do regular checks around the perimeter of your gardens and make any repairs straight away.
  3. Consider limiting your dog’s visibility. If your pooch is susceptible to outside temptations, consider installing solid-panelled privacy fencing.
  4. Get a gate door with a lock. If you want to have a garden exit door, make sure that your dog is unable to open the door.

Find out more tips in our How to Make Your Garden Dog-Friendly And Safe blog post.


#6 – Prevent Overheating

When dogs get hot, they try to find relief the best way they can. Digging holes and burrowing inside helps them to cool off.

This is more of an extreme case.

However, never leave your pooch outdoors unattended. Boston Terriers, especially, are prone to overheating because of their Brachycephalic condition.

Also, if your Boston is spending time in the garden when it’s hot, provide him with plenty of water and shade. Plus, you may want to keep your dog in a cool area indoors when the temperature peaks during the day.

#7 – Trim Your Boston Terrier’s Nails

Believe it or not, if you do not keep your Boston Terrier’s nails trimmed to a comfortable length for him, your pooch will try to trim them by digging. 

Nail trimming should be a regular grooming ritual.

You should trim your Boston Terrier’s nails as often as it takes to prevent his nails from touching the ground when he’s standing. This could be once a month or every two weeks. With our How to Cut Boston Terrier Nails post, you’ll find a step by step guide you can use.


What’s Next

Once you have tried to deter your Boston Terrier from digging holes, the behaviour should gradually lessen. However, it may never completely stop.

If you are finding it difficult to determine the cause of the behaviour or find it difficult to implement the tips above, consult with a professional dog trainer. 

Click here to visit our Dog Training Essentials, where you will get a 3-part mini audio series + the everyday resource used by a well-known dog trainer.

You can also get this using the button below. Happy training! 😉

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