When Dogs Dig: How To Curb The Digging Habit In Your Canine

Digging dogs can be deeply frustrating for their owners. Unless the behavior is curbed, their yards and gardens might begin to look unsightly. Unfortunately, few people are able to identify the reasons their pets are digging, and thus cannot hope to successfully address the motivations behind the behavior.

In the space below, we’ll take a close look at why many canines dig. You’ll learn about the factors that prompt the behavior, which is a critical step toward discouraging it. We’ll also offer a few tips for shaping your pet’s habit in a way that preserves your yard and garden, and ensures his safety.

What Motivates A Dog To Dig?

There are many reasons a canine might be compelled to dig. For example, he might do so in an attempt to find cool soil to lie upon when the weather is warm. Or, he may wish to leave the confines of his yard to explore his neighborhood, roam for a mate, or look for food.

Some dogs dig because they are bored. This can happen when they are left outside by their owners for long periods of time. Lacking toys or anything else that might offer mental stimulation, they dig to entertain themselves.

A canine might also dig if he observes a rodent that triggers his prey instinct. In such cases, digging that suggests an attempt to escape is actually an indication of chasing a small animal.

Many dogs dig in order to hide their possessions. The behavior is not driven by anxiety that another animal (or person) will steal their resources, but rather by a motivation to save them for another time.

Another reason is to get away from environments they fear. The behavior may be prompted by loud noises, the appearance of a predator, or an abusive owner.

Each of these reasons may be a contributing factor in a dog’s digging. Discouraging the behavior usually requires addressing its motivation. That said, the following suggestions should prove helpful in most cases.

Designate An Area For Your Pet To Dig

One method for preventing your canine from digging up your lawn or garden is to direct his habit toward another area of your yard. Designate a space in which your pet can dig without reprimand. You’ll need to train him to dig there, an effort that is best made with plenty of treats.

Bury one of his favorite treats near the surface of the ground (loose soil works well). Make sure he observes you burying it. He’ll likely dig it up without needing to be prompted. Once he acquires the buried treat, praise him to reinforce the behavior. Perform this exercise several times until he begins to dig in his designated space on his own.

Make Inappropriate Areas Less Appealing

If your dog is persistent in digging up a particular area of your lawn or garden, you may need to take a more direct approach. For example, consider erecting a makeshift fence out of chicken wire with a portion of it buried several inches under the ground’s surface.

You can also purchase a number of products designed to keep your canine away with the use of scents he finds to be repulsive. Commercial repellents include “Get Away” and “Keep Off.” But even household items, such as vinegar and ammonia are effective.

Addressing Your Pet’s Boredom

Boredom is a common cause of digging. Even if the habit is motivated by another factor, providing your canine with more mental and physical activity can help curb the problem. Take him for two or three walks a day; play games, such as fetch and tug-o-war, with him; and visit a dog park, where he can interact with other pets.

If you are frustrated by your dog’s digging, identify the motivation behind the behavior. Although the habit is instinctive in canines, it can be discouraged with the right steps.