That Digging Dog…

Dealing With a Dog that Digs
Written on 06/27/2014 by Brandy Arnold in Behavior Mod.

Posted by: Randi Case, DC, CCSP

Some dogs seem to just enjoy getting down and dirty by non-stop digging. Meanwhile, their owners are helpless as they watch their yard turn into a minefield. The solution for this unwarranted dog behavior depends on the reason behind why your dog scoops up soil in the first

Causative Factors

A lot of dogs dig relentlessly because of numerous factors. First is due to their strong urge to find comfort during hot days. By digging up into the moist soil and lying there, they get to provide themselves summer relief. Some dig because they are preying on small animals or following the odor of buried food. Other breeds dig just for the fun of it, to escape, or due to boredom or frustration.

How to Discourage Digging

1. If your dog digs because he is looking for a cool spot to nest, give him a sand pit or a small children’s pool somewhere in a shady area. Alternatively, you can provide a shelter under a deck or in an insulated doghouse for use during hot days. Do not forget that all outdoor dogs have to gain access to shade as well as water all the time. Of course, most of us prefer to keep our dogs indoors, with us, where there’s no risk of overheating and lots of snuggle-time.

2. If your dog digs because she wants to escape from the yard, find out why she is so eager to leave. If she is leaving to look for a mate, spaying or neutering may be considered. If she is leaving to raid the garbage can next door, give your neighbor a garbage receptacle that is dog-proof. If your well-meaning neighbor feeds your dog, ask him to stop.

3. Pay attention to improving your containment structure. Adding a fence that extends far beneath the ground level could be the only way you can contain your skillful escape artist.

4. If your dog digs just to have fun, try to show him some other ways to play. Give your dog plenty of exercise to keep him busy at the same time mentally stimulated. Play “fetch” with him, or chase each other around the yard! Playing with your dog will not only give him an outlet for his pent-up energy, but the pair of you will bond as well.

5. Now, if there is one specific spot that your dog loves to dig, temporarily cover the area with wood or plastic. You may also change the soil texture such as by pouring water, putting large stones, or planting grasses in it as these could put off the undesirable behavior. Some folks swear by burying the dog’s own poop in that spot they like to dig, to prevent them from returning. (While this might work great, consider first that your dog might venture off for a new spot to dig once he’s no longer interested in this one… maybe having him dig only in one little area isn’t so bad after all!)

6. Finally, you may consider providing a special area in the yard where your dog can dig freely. Teach him that one particular spot is acceptable to dig, but definitely not in the rest of the yard. Well-placed or buried treats would greatly help in directing your pet to dig only in a suitable area. If digging up your landscaping is a problem, consider adding a doggy sandbox, just for Fido.