Do you have a dog that just LOVES to dig? Overturning your newly-laid turf, creating unsightly mess in your landscaped yard, endangering the livelihood of your plants and herbs … you just can’t seem to stop such behaviour no matter what you try.
Before you get too disheartened, know that the digging habit is a hard one to break.
You will need a lot of patience, but patience only is not sufficient.
This is one area that requires particular knowledge and understanding of what drives behind such behaviour before you can put a stop to it once and for all. Knowing why they do it – is the first step.
2 Major Reasons Why Dogs Dig
Before you can tackle and problem, you need to understand what’s causing it.
When it comes to dog digging habits, there are generally 2 reasons why they do it and no, it is not to spite you or destroy your property intentionally.
Boredom and Loneliness
Just like humans, dogs can get bored. Locked up indoors without getting the mental and physical stimulation they need, there will be this energy pent up inside that screams for release. One outlet they choose to release them, is by digging.
Digging gives your dog some physical exercises to do. Just the mere digging up of plants can entertain them for an hour or two. And when they start doing it, the whole experience becomes too fun to resist. There are just so many interesting creatures waiting to be sniffed out and unearthed, too exciting!
Not to mention the yard itself is naturally an enticing environment to a dog. The smell of dirt, manure and other natural fertilizers habitually appeals to them, egging them to dig to get closer to the source.
Another reason a dog digs is because he is lonely. Digging gets your attention and even though it is a negative one, it is attention from you nevertheless. Other behavioral reasons include trying to bury a treat/bone for ‘safekeeping’ or simply trying to make itself a cooler spot to lie in on a hot summer day.
Then there are those that simply dig because it is in their instinct. Some breeds, especially the terriers and dachshunds, have digging instilled within their instinct. They are bred to dig to drag underground residents out from their underground dens and burrows.
Some adventurous ones dig because they want to escape from the yard to go roam the neighbourhood.
And then there are those that simply just LOVES digging. No underlying cause, just a hobby it finds great joy in doing.
How To Stop Dog Digging
How to stop them from digging requires identifying the reason your dog digs at the first place.
Do not immediately resort to punishing but tailor the way you correct its habit by addressing the cause. It’s pretty easy to identify – if he still digs no matter how much exercises he gets, it means he simply loves doing it.
On the other hand, if he only digs when he’s left alone for lengthy period and not when you’re at home, he’s probably bored and lonely and is only digging to entertain himself or burn off his energy.
If your dog digs because he is bored/lonely …
Between the two, this is the easier route. The very first thing you can do is give your dog more exercise – go for a run or at the very least, take a walk around the neighbourhood daily.
30 minutes is the minimum but an hour will be even better because your pup may not get the stimulation he needs otherwise.
If you find it hard to squeeze in the time to do so in your schedule, you can always hire a dog walker or send your dog to a dog daycare center. The latter will have daily exercises fixed in to get your pup well stimulated and as the saying goes, a tired dog is a well-behaved dog. That should stop any digging.
Another thing you can do is obedience training. Teach your dog a new trick or two. This can stimulate both mind and physique and it also gives them the attention and companionship they yearn.
Have someone drop by for a quick visit during the day when you’re at work. It can be a friend or a family member. Dog daycare centre is always a solution if there is no one else.
Last trick in the book? Buy your dog stimulating toys that will keep them mentally engaged and entertained. You know those that you can stuff treats in? That alone will keep your dog occupied physically and mentally for hours as it tries to figure out how to extract the treats from inside.
If your dog digs out of instinct/because he just LOVES it …
This is a lot harder to tackle. One drastic way though, is to simply ban your dog from accessing the backyard.
That could be a little harsh, given the yard does make for a good playground for your dog to run about and exercise. In such circumstance, there are a few things you can do.
Try using natural deterrents to make the soil/ground unappealing to your dog. Sprinkle cayenne pepper or bury some of your dog’s feces at areas your dog normally digs, this should stop them from digging.
Always be present when you let your dog out in the yard so that you can supervise it. Stop it every time it tries to dig or when you catch him in the act – spraying it with water using the garden hose is a trick that always work!
And lastly, set up a ‘sandbox’ area for where your dog can dig to its heart’s content if you have the space. Sometimes, you just have to recognise that this is in their instinct and they will continue to dig no matter what you do. Limiting the area where it can do so will at least let you keep the rest of your yard safe.
Your dog doesn’t dig just to annoy you – that’s one thing to always keep in mind. Once you get that, it will be easier to manage your emotions everytime you see a newly dug hole although really, how can you stay frustrated or angry when they look at you with those puppy eyes?
Having said that, curbing such behaviour is not undoable. If you need help, be it in understanding your dog’s attitude or training and correcting your stubborn furry friend’s habit, give us a call at Mr Woofles and we’ll help you sort everything out.