Now that our gardens are in, the digging has begun for our dogs! Something that is so natural for our dogs can be very annoying and frustrating for us humans. We plant the flowers, and they dig them up. It seems like it is a never ending battle. It really is because we are fighting against their instinctive drive to dig.
Since it is extremely hard to fight Mother Nature, usually the best way to deal with your dog digging is to learn how to manage the behavior.
Some dogs dig to be cool in the warmer weather. Often dogs will dig a shallow hole, or scrape the surface of the dirt in order to keep their bodies cool. My dog Lola does this and when I say her name to get her attention she looks at me and then begins to dig faster! The only thing you can really do here is offer them a kiddie pool, or give them an area where it is okay for them to scratch at the dirt. Hopefully it could be under a tree that would offer them shade as well.
Digging is another way a dog will explore its environment. Our dog’s senses are so much stronger than ours that they will often smell worms and grubs under the dirt. Sometimes even moles and snakes will be what your dog smells. Please monitor this type of digger, as you never know what they will find! The last thing you want is a dog getting bit on the face because he dug up a curled up snake!
One thing you can do for a dog that is a habitual digger that is just doing it for entertainment is to buy him a sandbox. Bury some of his favorite toys and let him dig away! You can even hide bones with treats or whatever you like.
Another reason a dog will dig is to get to the other side! For example if you find your Houdini dog keeps digging out from under the fence to escape, he wants to explore what he thinks he is missing. Another reason he could be digging out is separation anxiety. That is why I caution people who leave their dogs in the backyard when they leave. Please make sure that you do not have an escape artist on your hands! Make sure that you block all the points where your dog has gotten out or you think they can get out. Adding something for your dog to do in the yard may help keep their minds off of the nearest escape route.
You don’t want to yell or punish your dog for digging. Try to identify the cause and the triggers for your dog’s digging. It is much easier to teach a dog an alternative behavior than it is to try to get them to stop doing what is natural for them. This will keep both of you happy!
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