Has your dog turned your garden into his own personal excavation site? You may be compelled to punish your dog for such an undesirable behaviour but you must understand that his digging is primarily an instinctual behaviour—your dog is just doing what comes naturally to him. But dog digging can also be a symptom of a bigger problem. It is important to identify the reasons for dog digging so that you can find the best solution to control the behaviour.
1. Your dog is in hunting mode
Your canine buddy may have noticed insects or a burrowing animal somewhere on your lawn, thus triggering a hunting expedition. You will know if the burrowing is due to hunting when the holes are focused on the roots of bushes or trees.
- Locate the burrowing creatures in your garden, particularly at the dig sites. Then, find safe ways to fence the said animals out of your garden or make the area unpleasant for them.
2. Your canine friend is bored
If you leave your pet alone in the garden for a long time on his own, he is likely to dig. Dogs need physical and mental stimulation and if they are not getting both, they are likely to engage in undesirable behaviour.
- Provide your dog chew toys to keep him busy enough to forgo digging.
- Set aside playtime with your pooch.
- Take your dog for a walk every day. If you have a high-energy dog, such as a terrier, walk him at least two times daily.
- Train your dog to follow certain commands or do simple tricks. Spend about 5-10 minutes daily teaching him a new skill.
3. Your dog wants some attention
If your pet only digs when you are present, he is probably doing it to make you focus on him. This is especially true if he keeps getting reprimanded for such behaviour. The disciplining allows him to get your attention. Some dogs suffer from separation anxiety and cope with it by digging.
- Spend more time with your dog. Take him out for a long walk.
- Give praise or rewards to your canine buddy whenever he exhibits good behaviour.
4. Your dog is feeling the heat
Your dog will dig if he wants to create a cool spot to lay in on a hot day because the ground is cooler below the surface. If the dig sites include the base of large trees, building foundations, and water sources, it is likely that he just wants to cool himself down.
- If your dog spends a long time in the garden during the day, build a comfortable outdoor shelter. This should safeguard your dog from both the cold and heat.
- Take your furry friend indoors more often, especially during bad weathers.
- If your dog sleeps outdoors, always give him easy access to freshwater.
5. Your furry friend wants to escape
Are the dig sites found along or under your fence? That tells you that your pooch wants to getaway. He may be trying to avoid something unpleasant or he is curious about what is happening on the other side of the fence. If your dog has not been neutered yet, he is probably trying to get to another dog.
- Embed chicken wire under the fence. The direction of the sharp edges must be away from your yard.
- Put a chain-link barrier at the bottom of your fence. This will make walking along the perimeter unpleasant for your canine escape artist.
You may also like:
6. Your dog is a dedicated digger
Some dog breeds, such as the dachshund, beagle, border collie, and those in the Terrier group, are natural excavators. Digging is in their genes as they are bred to hunt below the ground. As such, they will still burrow despite many attempts to correct such behaviour. Rather than prevent them from doing what is natural to them, teach them to dig appropriately.
- Assign a burrowing pit for your dog. Put his favourite toys and treats in it. You can bury some of them at a shallow depth. Once he uncovers the treat, give him lots of praises.
- Make other areas of your yard unappealing to your pooch. You can bury his stool about one inch below the ground at various areas, for example. You can also spread some pepper or citrus to deter his nose.
- Train your dog to dig in the designated place with treats and rewards.
You should never let your pet see you covering up the holes. He will think that you are approving his behaviour as you seem to be ‘playing’ with the dirt. You should also never ‘stake out’ your pet at the pit that he has dug.
Also, avoid punishing your dog after a dig as it is already too late. The correction must be done during the act and should be done with a calm yet confident demeanour. The burrowing will worsen if your dog is fuelled by anxiety or fear.