Springtime is here, and that means many pet parents will be spending time outdoors planting flowers, fruits, and veggies.
It also means your dog will be spending more time outdoors, too, which can lead to a few problems like doggie digging.
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Celebrity pet trainer Harrison Forbes recently recalled an incident with his own dog that many pet parents may relate to- especially if you’re a gardener.
Wreck-It-Ralph in the Yard
Harrison’s wife spent all weekend outdoors planting and tending to the flower beds around their home. New plants went in, new mulch went down, and everything was shaping up to be picture perfect for Spring…. until the family dog intervened. Not only did he dig up quite a few flowers, but he dug through the new mulch to create a bathtub sized hole to lay in- effectively wrecking all the hard work that had gone into the landscaping the day before.
Can you relate?
Has your dog ever wrecked the yard with digging, sifting, and rearranging your soil, mulch, and plants?
Dogs love to dig, and it seems inevitable. Are you just destined to have a yard full of landmine holes and wrecked landscaping every spring?
With a little help from Harrison, you can keep your yard AND your dog happy this spring.
How to Stop a Dog from Digging
It’s important to know that dogs dig for a number of reason- roughly five main reasons. We’re going to cover the first two this week:
We’ll cover investigative digging first.
The Investigative Digger Dog
If you have a super-sleuth dog at home who loves to sniff, explore and investigate, you’ve probably got a digger on your hands.
A dog’s sense of smell is absolutely amazing. Every scent tells a story to them, and they can smell much more than the average human. The urge to sniff is simply overwhelming.
They. Must. Smell. EVERYTHING!
Come home from work and your dog will sniff your clothes and shoes to find out where you’ve been, who you touched, and what you did- all from the smells lingering on your person.
Can you imagine all the smells contained in one bag of spongy, moist mulch or one potted flower from your local gardening store? Everyone who touches the bag or its contents leaves behind a scent. Not to mention the five different farms, 20 different piles of cow manure, and 40 trees that combined to create a single bag of mulch!
When you bring new items into your yard, your investigative doggie is compelled to explore each new scent. He’ll sift through the soil and mulch to discover the next scent and rearrange your plants to get to something interesting he catches a whiff of just beneath the surface.
He’s not destroying your work…. He’s defending you from potential threats that might be contained in the new materials that are now in his home turf.
Think of it this way: when your dog smells another animal in the soil… he doesn’t think, “Oh, a skunk rubbed against this mulch when it was waiting to be loaded onto a truck in New York.” He truly believes the skunk was RIGHT THERE in your yard touching that very piece of bark!
Mulch and fertilizer have a lot of animal waste – your dog thinks a bull has been in their backyard! He wants to explore those scents to find out more.
Your dog believes it’s his duty to protect your home from all threats, both foreign and domestic. But he sometimes has difficulty sorting out where those threats lie or what they might be. He relies on his nose to help him solve the puzzle and save the day.
The Solution for an Investigative Digger
One of the best ways to stop investigative digging is to limit your dog’s access to new materials until after the smells have dissipated. This may mean keeping him out of the front yard for a day or two until it’s rained or the wind has weakened the overpowering smells.
You can also try giving your dog a small pile of his own to dig in and investigate in a safe area where you don’t mind a little digging and sifting. This gives him an area that’s more attractive, and acceptable, to dig in rather than your freshly landscaped lawn. He’ll still need close supervision for a few days when he’s given access to areas containing new planting materials, but he won’t be so compelled to investigate the smells he’s already scoped out in the safe area.
The Comfort Digger Dog
This time of year can be especially difficult for our dogs. Most still have a thick layer of winter fur, yet we have a smattering of extremely warm days as Mother Nature flexes her springtime sunshine muscles again.
This can create a dangerous situation for your dog, with heatstroke and overheating becoming serious concerns. Please keep fresh water available for your dog at all times until he’s able to completely shed his winter coat. Providing a shady area or a fan can also help your dog stay cool on warm days. If you notice him panting, it may be best to move him to a temperature controlled environment for his safety.
When your dog gets too warm, his instincts tell him to dig.
You see, when you dig down about one or two inches beneath the sun-warmed soil, it’s very cool. That’s why dogs like to dig bathtub sized holes to lay in- it much cooler than lying on top of the grass! Plus, mulch is very moist which helps pull the heat away from your log’s body. It’s also much easier to dig in than the hard-packed yard.
How to Stop a Comfort Digger
To discourage comfort digging, always keep your dog cool and comfortable with chilling mats, frozen plastic bottles filled with water, drinking water, and shade.
You can also lay dime size chicken wire under the mulch to deter digging. Just place it in the areas your dog has access to and cover it with a thin layer of mulch. He won’t like the feel of the wire under his paws and will be unable to create a comforting cooling hole. He’ll most likely look for another cool area or source of shade instead. A baby pool filled with cool water in the spring and summer are welcome additions to any dog’s backyard comfort measures.
To recap, to stop doggie digging:
- Limit your dog’s access to new materials in your yard for a few days
- Lay chicken wire under your mulch
- Keep your dog cool
- Provide an attractive alternative that’s safe to explore and dig
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