How many times have you opened your door to let your dog in and find him in the middle of digging a bunch of holes in your yard, flower bed, or vegetable garden? This can be an extremely aggravating behavior. The key to preventing digging is to learn why your dog is digging. Digging is a natural behavior for dogs. Wild dogs will normally dig to create a cool place to rest. Our pet dogs often dig because they are bored. This boredom comes from being confined to the backyard with little or nothing else to do but dig. When left to their own devices, dogs, like young children will entertain themselves in a way that is aggravating to their owners. They will dig, chew, and or bark to entertain themselves.
So, how do we find out why our dogs are digging? If your dog starts digging after being left outside unattended for a very short time, chances are he is digging to create a cool place to lie down. Make sure your dog has a place that is shaded and has plenty of water, especially if it is for an extended period of time.
Garden areas and flowerbeds should be fenced off to keep your dog away from them. This will not only help prevent him from digging in your prize garden, it will prevent him from trampling your flowers and garden plants.
Boredom is the most common reason that dogs dig. The best way to prevent digging is through management. If you can’t be outside with your dog, bring him in or provide some sort of environmental enrichment and/or entertainment for him. One of the best forms of entertainment is some sort of an interactive toy that keeps them busy. Kong toys or similar types of toys will help keep your dog entertained. You can make a game of hiding several stuffed Kong toys in the yard and encourage your dog to find them. Once he is used to the game, you can leave him for longer periods to find them on his own.
Many dogs are bred for jobs that involve digging and will continue no matter how many toys you have provided them. The best solution for these types of dogs is a digging pit. A digging pit is a place where you can allow your dog to dig. You can train him to dig in his pit, thus, keeping the rest of the yard safe. Some people just choose a spot in the yard while others will build something similar to a sandbox for their dogs.
Creating a digging pit is simple. Find a location that you find acceptable for digging. Hide all kinds of exciting things for him to find such as treats, stuffed dog toys, Kong toys stuffed with goodies, and bones. You might want to try putting some of these treasures near the top or show him that you are putting good things in this area.
Keep in mind that your dog isn’t going to learn to start using the digging pit on his own. You will need to take some time to show him the pit. If he starts digging in other parts of the yard, gently redirect him to his digging pit. You will be amazed at how quickly he will get the idea.
As always, keep this behavior modification positive and you and your dog will maintain a happy and healthy relationship for years to come.