A determined dog can easily damage artificial turf. If your pup has made a bad habit of digging, don’t despair. You can stop your dog from digging before he or she cause more damage or force you to replace the artificial.
Fulfill Your Dog’s Instincts
Many dogs dig out of boredom or out of instinct. They are either unfulfilled in the instincts that most matter to them, or their instinct to dig is so strong that other dog activities don’t scratch the itch. If you have a retriever, a border collie, or another dog that can be fulfilled with more fetch or other games, increasing the amount you play with them.
However, some dogs have a strong instinct to dig. This includes dogs bred to hunt, such as hounds or terriers. If you own one of these dogs, you may need to provide them with a spot where they can dig. Think of it like a sandbox for children. It may be a bit messy, but it’s better than allowing your dog to rip up the artificial turf.
If a sandbox is too impractical for you, you can try to provide other engaging dog toys in the backyard that can help distract them. Provide chew toys, tug toys, or even puzzle toys with treats to motivate your dog. That said, if your dog is the type to bury toys and treats, this may be counterproductive. In that case, you may want to make sure that they don’t have anything that they want to bury when they are outside.
Provide Some Climate Control
Have you noticed that your dog only digs after a good session of fetch, or when they are too hot or cold? Dogs know that if they dig a few inches down, the ground is much cooler, so they instinctively dig and lay down in the cool spot to get more comfortable. Or, they may dig a hole in order to shelter themselves from the wind. In this case, your dog may stop digging if they have another spot to cool down or warm-up. We suggest you provide them with a cooling pad, a doggie house, or both.
Once you’re sure that your dog has an outlet for their energy and digging needs, and has adequate shelter, you can start to discourage them from digging on the artificial grass and redirecting them towards the spot where they can dig or to another activity. Scold your dog when they dig and interrupt them with a game or other activity.
If your usual negative reinforcement is not enough to dissuade the digging, or if your dog is often on the artificial grass when you’re not home, you may need to use other methods to discourage them. You may put netting over your dog’s favorite dig spots, just to help break the habit. Or, you could flavor their favorite dig spot with pepper or citrus peels, which may also help break the habit.
What if none of these techniques work? Then, you may want to work with a professional dog trainer to protect your artificial turf.