Given the opportunity, most yard dogs dig. Some are scraping out a cool place to lie down, some are sniffing out underground treats such as juicy grubs, and others are just hoping to tunnel their way to freedom from a boring backyard. You could asphalt your outdoor space to curb your dog's behavior, but training him to only dig in designated areas is a much better option.
Plastic Wading Pools
For treat and treasure hunting diggers, fill a shallow wading pool with a mix of sand and mulch. Wading pool sandpits are temporary and leave the ground in good condition, making them a great option if you're living in a rental property. Bury a few of your dog's favorite treats, toys or chew bones in the mix. Praise him for digging up the goodies, but give verbal reprimands if he wanders toward off-limit areas and starts testing the ground. Make his sandbox the most attractive option for digging behaviors by spending time with him playing in the box and frequently rotating treats for him to dig up.
Cool and Shady Sand Pits
Pay attention to where your dog's sandbox is located. Dogs that dig seeking a cool place to lie down are not going to use a sandbox that is located in a bright sunny area. Instead, lay out an area under a shade tree, or build a dog-sized pergola over your pooch's designated dig pit. Moist soil is also a must for cool-seeking canines. Once you've chosen an area for the sandbox, till the ground and pile the loose soil to the side. Line the area with garden cloth or a heavy layer of leaves. Lay landscape timbers around the perimeter. Mix the loose soil you removed with loam-based mulch and add it back into the sandbox. Avoid large bark chunks or stones that may be uncomfortable for your dog to lie on. Provide a small wading pool of water next to the sandbox, or even in the center, to encourage your hot-natured dog to only dig in his own space.
Dachshunds, terriers and beagles are a few of the breeds that love going underground. Create their sandbox by using cinder blocks to form a rectangular retaining wall. Fill the enclosure with sand. Build tunnels and channels into the sandbox using concrete blocks, barrels, cement culverts and wooden crates. Use caution when designing these sandpits; you don't want your pet to be crushed by poorly constructed tunnels or buried alive. It is not necessary to locate the tunnels completely under the sand. Add gravel, bark and stones to these sandpits to help stabilize structures. Creative use of driftwood can also add a fun element to this doggy play area.
Some highly energetic dogs love to swing from ropes, push around large objects and play tug-of-war. Locate their sandbox under a tree with a sturdy limb for hanging a strong knotted rope they can easily grasp. Place cement pavers vertically into a shallow trench dug around the perimeter of the sandbox. Fill the area with sand and gravel. Add an old bowling ball for them to push around and some large bones for them to gnaw. Keep an old pot nearby filled with water because dogs using this sandbox are going to be thirsty after their workout.