If your yard looks like the surface of the moon…
and your flower beds look more like Swiss Cheese than horticulture…
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you might have a dog who loves to dig.
Previously, we talked about the first two reasons your dog loves to dig. If you missed that post, be sure to read it here.
Today, we’re talking to celebrity pet trainer Harrison Forbes about the next three reasons dogs love to dig. If you understand what’s motivating your dog to dig up your yard, you have a better chance of limiting the damage.
Please keep in mind, like always, that these views are simply one trainer’s approach. There are many different approaches to training dogs, and one may work for some dogs better than others. If this approach doesn’t work for your dog, it simply means you need to try another method.
Remember, we covered reasons 1 and 2 for digging here so be sure to check out that post as well.
4 More Reasons Your Dog Digs
3. Hunting for Ground Dwelling Animals (moles)
Most dogs have a natural prey instinct. They like to hunt for their food, terrier breeds especially.
Some dogs were genetically bred to be varmint hunters. This gives them a super knack for hunting underground. These dog make holes everywhere. They enjoy the hunt, the digging, the flushing out of the varmint. The entire process is one big party for these dogs.
The best way to limit this kind of digging is to treat the varmint problem in your yard.
If he’s digging for animals, saying “No” to your dog is like telling him not to be a dog and to be something else. Digging is instinct for him. It’s unfair to the dog to try to curb this behavior.
These dogs need lots of toys and entertainment to keep them busy.
One guy buried drainage pipe four inches deep in his backyard for his dachshunds to explore. He hid toys and treats inside the tunnels and let them do what they do best.
These types of alternative activities are good for dogs instincts and are a non-destructive activity. It also helps expend excess energy- which is always a good thing.
4. Digging for Entertainment
Some dogs dig for pure entertainment. These dogs dig really fast and like to watch the dirt fly and chase it. The act of digging is all the excitement they need.
To help entertainment diggers, make a sand box for the dog to dig in. It’s cool, easy to dig, plus the sand is contained in one area of the yard. It’s a win for everyone.
5. Digging to Hoard Food and Objects
This instinct comes from a dog burying food to come back later and eat it.
The coolness of the ground helps preserve his treasures. He enjoys hiding toys and prizes because his instincts tell him there may be a shortage soon, so it’s best to stock up now.
Giving your dog sand in the backyard gives him a safe place that’s easy to dig. It won’t curb the desire to hoard-that’s his instinct. It just gives him a safe place to carry out his urges.
You can leave a few buried treasures for your hoarding-dog and dig up some others if he’s really active with digging.
No one wants to spend money on new balls and treats every week just to have them buried forever in the first five minutes your dog has them. We buy them for the dog to enjoy, and he does enjoy burying. But you can recycle those buried treasures unless your dog becomes stressed when his buried stuff disappears. Some dogs think they’re getting robbed when their buried loot comes up missing and will be distressed. It’s better just to leave the loot alone in these cases.
You can also hide toys for your dog to find later if he has fun finding where he left his stuff. Putting his instincts to work as a game of hide and seek with a tennis ball buried in the backyard can be great fun for you both.
6. Digging to Escape
Dogs who are trying to escape usually are seen digging along a fence line or near a gate.
Pure and simple.
Chicken wire buried an inch or two under soil can limit these Houdinis. They don’t like the feel of the wire under their paws when they dig and will search for another area to escape where the digging is less offensive.
Just bury your chicken wire two feet wide, 6-8 inches under the soil and use the chicken wire with dime or quarter sized holes.
You can also line your dog’s fence or pen with cinder blocks to limit escape digging.
If your dog is digging for any reason, it’s important to understand his motives and instincts. As with any habitual behavior, we as pet parents have the ability to redirect that into a positive habit.
Remember, it takes 10-14 days for a dog’s new action to become the new norm.