7 Reasons Why Dogs Dig and What You Can Do
A yard or garden with patches of holes dug in it by your dog can be quite unsightly and unwanted. While you may not be able to completely stop your dog from digging up your yard, you can control the behavior by taking certain steps.
There are a number of reasons why your dog digs up the yard. The first step towards fixing the behavior is to identify what is responsible. Having narrowed down the possible reasons, you can choose the best course of action to take.
- Boredom: Your dog may resort to digging as a means of entertainment. This could happen if he or she doesn’t get as much exercise as needed. Each dog has a different energy level from one another. For hyperactive dogs, going for a walk twice a day may not provide adequate exercise to release all that energy. Provide extra entertainment with a variety of toys and games to help your dog beat boredom. Engage him or her in more vigorous forms of exercises like running or playing fetch with a Frisbee or tennis ball launcher. If you have a dog park in your neighborhood (and your dog likes other dogs,) take him or her there for a quality time of socializing and playing with other dogs.
- To Hunt Prey: The scent of a prey may make your dog want to dig. Don’t forget that dogs are natural hunters and may sometime succumb to this natural instinct to hunt rodents. To prevent this from happening, endeavor to make your yard rodent-free by seeking professional help. Avoid using harmful or poisonous chemicals to do this as it could harm your dog and other animals as well.
- Natural Instinct: Some breeds of dogs are naturally inclined to dig than others and most terriers fall into this category. It doesn’t matter whether they are bored or not; they are likely to dig because they enjoy it. Other breeds that enjoy digging are the Portuguese Podengo Medio and Australian Cattle Dogs. For such cases, you can carve out a section of your yard as a digging area and then train your dog to confine his or her digging within this limit. This area should be fenced with freshly tilled earth. Provide an ample supply of treats like raw bone and chewable toys in this area for him or her to play with. If your dog wanders away from this area to dig somewhere else, stop this behavior with a firm “No digging” command and calmly return your pet back to the carved out area.
- To Get Attention: Dogs are intelligent creatures and if yours senses that he or she gets your attention (albeit negative) when digging, the behavior is likely to reoccur whenever he or she feels neglected. It is therefore important that you give your dog quality attention and care every day. Don’t leave your dog alone in the yard for long periods. If you notice this pattern, you can correct it by ignoring your dog whenever he or she digs and by lavishing him or her with attention for good behavior. This is a better way to show displeasure than yelling or screaming.
- To Escape: If your dog digs close to the fence, it may be in an attempt to escape. One thing you can do is to bury chicken wire immediately under the surface of the dirt. You can also fill the area with cement to harden it.
- For Comfort: In hot weather conditions, Your dog may dig up the earth in an attempt to find comfort from the heat by providing a comfortable dog house in a shaded area and ensuring he or she gets a good supply of water.
- Compulsive Behavior: If the digging problem is chronic, you may need to get you and your dog enrolled for a basic training. With this and a calm assertive approach, you should be able to deal with the issue.
Other Tips to Prevent Your Dog from Digging
- Don’t punish, hit, yell at, nor scream at your dog if you find him or her digging. This will lead to the behavior happening when you aren’t around.
- Don’t punish your dog after the deed has been done as dogs can’t know the real reason for the punishment and may mistake it for something else.
- You can provide discouragement by filling the digging area with large, flat rocks to limit access or by sprinkling water on your pet from a hose whenever digging occurs.
- If you are sure your dog doesn’t eat his own poop, you can put this in the hole to discourage further digging. Alternatively, you can use the peel of citrus fruits, such as orange, lemon and grapefruit, to fence off the area. To be sure that your dog would find the smell of the peel offensive, you can test by placing the squeezed juice on your hand and bringing it close to his or her nose. If he or she backs off or shows anxiety, then the peel can be used.
- If you need to do some digging yourself, ensure that your dog doesn’t see you as this can reinforce the behavior.