If your dog digs and you want to know how to stop your dog from digging, this article by Angelo Salazar will help you understand this common dog behavior and hopefully provide you with solutions. One of the common characteristics of pet dogs is their tendency to dig holes. This may not be much of a problem if you own property with acres and acres of space, but if you’re a city person with a only a small patch of soil that you can call your garden, then that foxhole your dog digs up will definitely be a concern.
Why do dogs dig and how to stop your dog from digging?
There are a number of reasons your pet may be a compulsive digger. Understanding these reasons may help understand the problem and how to stop your dog from digging. Sometimes the solutions can be very obvious.
Some breeds, for example, that are from cold climes (such as the Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky) may be trying to cool down, so they dig holes to burrow into and keep themselves cool. In this case the solution is fairly simple — just make sure you give these dogs a cool place where they can stay. Conversely, some dogs may be feeling too cold, and dig up holes which they burrow into to warm up. Letting them stay in a warm place can help alleviate the problem.
Other dogs may think they hear something scratching underground — worms or bugs crawling, maybe — and they can’t help the urge to satisfy their curiosity. These dogs typically dig up many holes in seemingly random places. Hounds and other breeds that have a keen sense of smell may be attracted to the scent of buried bones or other aromatic things. Or they may be responding to the smell of fertilizer or freshly dug earth.
Some breeds have digging wired right into them. Labradors and some terriers, for example, were bred specifically to dig and search. So your dog is just being himself when he digs up your yard and the problem of how to stop your dog from digging may seem hopeless. But for these dogs it may be enough to simply provide a designated digging pit where they can channel their tendency to dig and still fulfill their life purpose.
More intense and compulsive digging behavior may stem from a deeper psychological issue for the dogs. Some dogs may be suffering from some inner fears or anxieties which they express through compulsive digging. How to stop an anxious dog from digging requires more of your attention and engagement. The reasons dogs commonly dig up holes include the following.
- The dog is seeking your attention. If he digs in your presence, and if he has very little opportunity to interact with you, then this may be the cause of his digging behavior.
- He may be bored and he digs to get some form of mental and physical stimulation. This may be the case if your pet tends to be left alone for long periods of time, and if he spends much time in a relatively barren environment, without playmates or toys.
- Your pet may feel he needs to escape from something or someone if he consistently digs along the perimeter of your fence, trying to get under the fence and on to the other side.
- Your dog has separation anxiety. This can be quite a challenge to correct and will need you to employ behavior modification techniques.
How to Stop Your Dog from Digging – Things to Try
- For minor cases, it may be enough to set up barriers to your garden or yard to keep your dog away and stop him from digging. If this works, and your dog appears normal and balanced, then you’ve solved the problem. But if the problem is deep-seated, preventing access to the only place where your dog can express himself may lead to the problem manifesting itself through other means. Check if your dog suddenly displays questionable or quirky behavior as soon as you restrict access to the places where he normally digs.
- You can still let your dog into the yard, but only when you are there to supervise him. This way you can correct the digging behavior as it happens, while at the same time getting in more time to interact with your pet. When you can’t be around to supervise your pet, make sure he is confined — in a crate, a kennel, or indoors — until you are available.
- Give your dogs lots of exercise. Providing physical and mental stimulation lets your pet burn off all that excess energy, and should calm him down physically and mentally. It’s highly recommended that you walk your dog for half an hour at least twice each day. Teach him to do simple tricks (they don’t need to be complicated), and redirect his energy by introducing new games, such as playing catch, or fetching items.
- Dogs are among the best in associative learning, which means they easily associate specific situations with their corresponding causes. You can use this to your advantage by making the digging process unpleasant for the dog.
- For example, you can blow up some balloons and bury them in the areas where your dog often digs. When he tries to dig at the same spot, the balloon should pop and startle him. This ought to create a negative association for the dog and hopefully discourage him from digging.
- If you can spend more time with your dog and follow him as he plays around in your yard, you can spray him with a hose as soon as he starts to dig. However, for this to be effective, you must be consistent and slosh your dog as soon as he begins to dig.
- If your dog keeps digging to bury bones you give him… then stop giving him bones! Hand him a chewable rawhide bone instead.
- Try laying out chicken wire or wooden panels just under the surface of the areas where your dog loves to dig. The chicken wire creates an unpleasant feeling when your pet starts to dig, while the wooden panel makes digging tougher. Either method should serve to discourage the dog from digging.
- You can build or designate a digging area for your dog, where you bury some of his favorite treats. Your dog then gets the message that if he wants to dig, this is the place to do it, and he gets rewarded in return.
There are even more ways you can try, but remember that how to stop your dog from digging depends on the reasons your dog digs in the first place.
How to Stop Your Dog from Digging Related Articles
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- What is the type of behavior for the Alaskan malamute (wiki.answers.com)