Anyone that has ever owned a dog, or even watched classic cartoons featuring dogs, knows that dogs dig. Some like to do it more than others, and while your pup may not make it all the way to China like his animated associates, it can be a pretty destructive behavior.
Digging dogs can be quite the challenge for pet owners, especially those who want to keep a nice yard. While we don’t have all the answers, Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital does have some good ideas to keep digging dogs redirected.
Discouraging Digging Dogs Before They Start
Digging dogs exist for a few reasons. Some pets may have a predatory drive to search for critters in the dirt, while others are instinctually looking to hide valuable items such as toys and food from others. Some dogs also learn to dig as a form of entertainment. Other pets are looking for a cool place to lay or an escape route.
If you have the luxury of starting fresh with a young dog or one who hasn’t already formed an established habit, discouraging digging can be quite simple.
- Be sure that your yard is free of rodents. This may take some effort utilizing fencing and other humane barriers. Avoid poisons as this is also hazardous to your pet. A rodent-free ensures that your pet has no prey to dig for.
- It is important to provide your pet with shelter outside from the heat and cold and fresh water at all times. Your pet ideally should have access to the indoors when they wish to come inside. Pets without an appropriate place to seek shelter from the elements may be tempted to create their own by digging.
- If your pet seems to be trying to escape the yard, make it more difficult. Buried chicken wire, partially buried rocks, or chain link fencing that goes below ground can be effective. Strategically planted bushes and landscaping can also help.
- Many pets dig out of attention-seeking behavior or boredom. Circumvent this by providing predictable and loving interaction daily and by helping your pet get good exercise daily.
Navigating the Seasoned Digger
If your pet is an avid digger, chances are that they have learned that digging is fun. Most often these are young, energetic dogs who have been bred for digging, such as Terriers.
If you have a digger, start with the following:
- Do not leave your pet outside unattended for long periods.
- Provide structured exercise like a walk daily.
- Spend at least 5-10 minutes daily working on something mentally challenging like a trick or command.
- Provide and use active-type toys like balls and disks.
- Use interesting and interactive type toys outside, rotating often.
If you have ruled out predatory drive, the need for a cool area, lack of exercise and attention, and escape as reasons that your dog is digging, you may be best served to succumb to pressure and embrace the behavior.
Digging dogs may need a dedicated area to dig in so that the rest of the yard might be spared. Create a designated digging zone by using an area of loose dirt or even a sandbox, and reward your pet for digging here. You can even bury some treasures for your pet to find.
Digging dogs can be a bummer for your yard, but once you understand why the behavior is occurring, it can be much easier to stop.
If you are having trouble with your dog or have questions about how to best discourage digging or other behaviors, please call us. We are here to help you and your pets in any way possible.