How to Stop Your Dog from Digging Naturally is another one of those questions I am always being asked. Therefore, I am going to show you how to answer your question.
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You see. as a seasoned dog owner and trainer, I know that your dog will, over its life change its habits for one reason or another.
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Let’s have a look at why and how to stop your dog digging.
Dogs naturally like to dig. However, this type of proclivity can also wreak havoc when your backyard looks as if it has been attacked by moles. If you want to stop your dog from digging, you need to follow certain guidelines that will take time to enforce. However, if you work with your dog, you can stop the activity from negatively influencing your life.
Why Do Dogs Dig?
With that being said, dogs dig for one of the various reasons. For most dogs, the activity adds balance to their lives. Digging is not only a form of exercise but it enables them to keep active and distracts them for a while. If a dog is bored, it will take up digging for something to do.
Even people like to dig. Children love to go to the sandbox and find the activity a peaceful pastime. However, if you allow your kids to dig, you direct them to a sandbox. They cannot randomly choose a place such as your garden. That is how we should teach dogs. Show your dog that it can dig but only in a specific place in the yard.
Exercise with Your Dog
If you do not want your dog to dig anywhere in your yard, you need to replace the habit with another activity. That means you need to find another form of exercise that will stop your dog from digging and lead it into the activity. Exercise is always the best way to drain any energy that has built up. For instance, you may want to bond with your pooch and run with it, hike with it, or swim with it in the pool.
Add Some Weight
To take on this type of assignment, you need to learn more about the energy levels of certain breeds. Some pet owners simply are not challenging their dogs enough that they will not dig, jump, chew, or bark. When you do exercise your dog, how long does it take? If you do not have enough time to exercise your dog adequately, add a little bit of weight to it, such as a backpack. By taking this approach, you can turn a 30-minute exercise session into one that lasts an hour.
Which Breeds Really Like Digging?
Maybe you have not yet adopted a dog. If so, it pays to know which dogs dig more frequently than others. You can stop your dog from digging more easily if it has less of a tendency to dig. Yes, it’s true. All dogs like to dig. However, some breeds simply love the activity more. You also have to consider that digging enables some dogs to escape from beneath a gate or fence. Even if the dog does not dig up your flowers, it may end up escaping and running away.
Terriers Love to Dig up Yards
Terrier breeds like digging more than many of the other breeds, especially the Cairn terrier, the Bedlington terrier, the Border terrier, the West Highland white terrier, the Jack Russell terrier, and the Australian terrier. Terriers have been used for fox hunting or chasing and hunting small game. That is why digging comes naturally.
The Cairn Terrier
For instance, the Cairn terrier, a small dog from Scotland, originally used its digging skills to hunt small game animals. It also has a natural instinct to search out small animals. Bedlington terriers will tear up your yard if you do not exercise the dogs often. These dogs were once used to hunt vermin in mines.
The Jack Russell Terrier
The Jack Russell terriers use its natural instinct to dig and to grab prey that burrowed into the ground. As a result, the terrier has a high drive to find prey and dig it out of the ground. As a result, it can become a digging nuisance if the dog is not properly trained.
Border Terriers were once used to hunt foxes and were prized for their ability to keep up with the larger dogs. Fox hunters liked using the skills of these dog as they could easily fit inside burrows. Because of this history, the dog possesses strong digging skills and instincts, which can lead to big trouble for the modern pet owner.
The West Highland White Terrier
The West Highland white terrier, also affectionately known as a Westie, once hunted small rodents on farms. In turn, the dog’s instinct for digging was enhanced and it still uses this instinct today.
The Australian Terrier
The ancestors of the Australian terrier were bred to eliminate rodents such as mice and rats. To find the prey, the dog used digging to capture game.
Other Digging Breeds
While terriers have a bad reputation for digging, other dog breeds also have a tendency to over-dig in the yard or garden.
For instance, one of these dogs is the Dachshund. Yes, it is true. This small but active dog can really dig up a yard. The dog was used to catch game such as badgers as its short legs allowed it to get into burrows without difficulty. If you do not exercise or train the dog properly, your yard will resemble a war zone after a short period of time.
Basset hounds, while low key, also love digging and often become a nuisance in this respect. Because the dog stands close to the ground, it was used often for digging the prey out of burrows. Despite its laid-back nature, it still maintains a strong instinct to dig.
While the Beagle is a lovable family pet, it still maintains hunting and digging reputation. In fact, the beagle is considered one of the best, if not the best, rabbit-hunting breeds on the planet. That is why Beagles are widely used for rabbit hunting.
The scent-hound was known as the Bloodhound also likes to dig. That is because the dog was once used to track large game animals such as deer or boars. If the dog becomes bored, it likes to dig to distraction.
The Siberian Husky
You also have to train a Siberian Husky to limit its digging in your yard. Siberian Huskies love to dig when it is warm as they can burrow and rest in the cooler ground. Make sure that you exercise this dog a lot as it can become bored fairly easily. When this happens, the dog will dig up your yard in the summer as well as throughout the year.
The Chow Chow
Another digger is the Chow Chow. Just the same as a Husky, a Chow Chow likes digging in the summer to keep cool. Digging is a form of self-preservation. Miniature Schnauzers also savor digging. Ancestors of the breed were once used as all-purpose farm dogs, which is a job that included catching rats on the farm.
The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is classified as a large gundog breed. As a result, this dog excels in sporting activities. Use the dog’s love of sports to stop your dog from digging if you own this breed of dog.
The Alaskan Malamute
The Alaskan Malamute is yet another dog that is known to dig when it gets too hot. Because of its thick coat, it likes to keep cool in dug-up soil. When hot weather approaches, make sure that your northern breed, such as a Malamute or Husky, spends its time in cool surroundings. That will keep it from digging up the yard. Give your dog extra exercise to provide a better distraction.
Reasons for Digging
With that being said, you still have to “dig further” and find out why digging holes is a fascinating occupation for a dog. That way, you can better stop your dog’s digging. In many instances, digging a hole represents a type of prison escape and a way for your pet to get out of the confines of a fenced yard, or “prison.” In some cases, a dog may be digging to escape something that it fears, perhaps another neighborhood dog or a natural weather event such as a thunderstorm.
Anxiety and Separation
Anxiety and separation both play a part in a dog’s need to dig. Therefore, if you see your yard dug up, it may be a dog’s unique way of issuing a cry for help. Sometimes, a dog will hear the activities of underground animals, such as bugs, which will cause it to investigate. It may also smell something underneath the ground and will dig several holes to find the source of the scent. In turn, you will come home to see holes placed randomly over your landscape.
As noted, dogs also dig holes for practical reasons or to escape the summer’s sweltering heat. They can even dig holes if their diet lacks certain minerals that they can retrieve from the dirt. Other dogs may dig holes to store food or to certain items. This type of digging results forms a natural instinct for self-preservation. In some instances, a female dog will dig a hole as part of her natural mating activity.
Once you explore the reasons and determine why your dog is digging, you can stop your dog from digging holes. Just keep in mind that digging is a natural trait and that most dog owners’ dogs dig holes. In fact, one survey revealed that about 83% of dog owners in the U.S. complain of this practice. Plus, digging is a natural behavior in the wild.
How to Address Dog Digging Problems
Depending on the reason, you can stop your dog from digging in unwanted areas. For example, if your dog is digging to locate a scent, you can dig a better hole in a preferred location. Motivate your dog to dig only in this spot by burying treats for it to locate and find.
When dogs dig holes, they often eat the dirt. Therefore, you can cut down on them digging holes by stopping them from eating dirt. This can be done with the help of a veterinarian as normally a dirt-eating dog lacks something in its diet.
For example, make sure that your dog eats a healthy, well-balanced diet. Maybe your dog is overweight. If so, feed it low-calorie dog food or feed it less of its regular food. It usually is better to feed the dog a low-calorie food as eating less could still lead it to eat dirt for added nutrition.
To combat dirt-eating and digging, it helps to play with your dog and provide it with lots of affection. This means to plan a time when you can walk with it, give it treats, and simply bond and sit with it. While you do not have to spoil your dog with the added attention, you can avert problems with digging and dirt-eating with success.
Stopping Your Dog Digging
As noted, dogs often dig to create a balance in their lives. If they are bored, they will dig or eat dirt. If you want to avoid the practice, make sure that your dog is entertained with games and toys. You might even think of teaching it some new tricks. While one saying states that “you cannot teach an old dog new tricks,” this is not true. Dogs can be trained at any age.
That is why it is never too late to teach your dog who loves to dig not to dig holes in your yard. You just need to find out why it has this tendency and take measures to prevent or reduce the activity. Also, it helps to provide your dog with chewy treats or chew toys to keep it from digging and eating dirt.
If you have tried everything to keep your dog from digging and nothing has worked, you may need to have it checked at the vet. Sometimes a dog that digs and eats dirt is suffering from a medical disorder or digestive disease and needs to be treated immediately.
One reason that dogs dig, which may not occur to pet owners, has to do with nail maintenance. That is right: dogs often dig to trim their nails. While some dogs dig for fun, other canines have more practical reasons for pursuing the practice. As a last resort, you may need to keep your dog totally out of the yard unless, of course, it is supervised. While this method may seem harsh, it may be necessary, especially if it is getting enough exercise.
To compensate for this restriction, make sure that you go outside with your dog several times a day. In fact, plan on setting aside doggie playtime four or five times per day for five to ten minutes per session. Also, allow your dog to sniff around when it is not engaged in an exercise activity.
How to Redirect Your Dog’s Focus
As noted, the trick to understanding any unwanted behavior from your pet is to define it. When you know why your dog digs, you can use the necessary measures to make a change. Depend on the solutions below to keep your dog focused on certain areas of the yard.
- Give your dog a spot where it can train and dig if it wants. Make sure that you give it treats and praise for following your directives and commands. Similar to a sandbox for a child, you might think of creating a sandy area in the yard. That way, your dog will not wreck the looks of your terrain in other places. In this type of spot, the soil is loose and therefore doggie-friendly.
- Just make sure that the spot is located in a shady area so it can also keep cool in the summertime. Sand is cleaner than dirt and does not turn to mud when it rains. That is a good enough reason to steer your pup to another area of the yard that is sandy and shady.
- Bring your dog to the digging spot and say “Dig.” Praise it each time that it finds a buried treat. Repeat the behavior until it learns the process. If you find it digging in the wrong spot, immediately yell “No!” Follow up by taking it over to the designated area for digging. Again, say “Dig.” If it does what you say, praise it for following your direction. This attempt at teaching your dog where and where not to dig should take several days. Maintain a training schedule each day so it learns the process well and follows it.
- You can deter it from digging in various areas in our yard by adding certain substances to the spots. For example, dogs do not like to dig in spots where they smell diluted ammonia, small bits of citrus, or pepper. Commercial products are also available that create a scent that causes a dog to look elsewhere to dig. Other products interfere with the dog’s smell. Some of the products can be used on the lawn or plants while other products must be used indirectly.
If you have been besieged with holes in your yard by your dog’s digging, you need to take an affirmative stance and teach it where it is okay and not okay to dig. By using the above general solutions, you can get a firmer grasp on a digging situation. Although digging may be ingrained in a dog’s nature, it does not mean that your dog cannot unlearn it. Probably the best approach is to compromise and find a spot where it can dig all the time. A sandy spot in the yard that is cool in the summertime can be your canine’s sandbox and play and digging area.
Realizing Good Results
As long as you stand firm in your decision and stay consistent with training, you will see good results. Remember, all dogs like to dig. Therefore, they really do not mean any harm even if your yard may look as if a cyclone hit it. They just need to be shown where it is okay to dig and where their digging is unwanted. It is up to you as a pet owner to provide them with instruction in this respect.
To further curb your dog’s digging, make sure that you supervise your pet, contain it in a more appropriate spot, and teach it to “leave it” if it veers toward the wrong spot in the yard. You can gradually teach your dog this command by rewarding it when it ignores the spot. Give it further praise when it turns away from the area and walks away from it.
Further methods to stop your dog from digging
You also want to make sure that you distract it from digging. Serve it meals or treats in combination with some food puzzle toys. That way, it will use its paws to obtain its food. Not only will this exercise keep your dog from digging but it will give it a good physical and mental outlet that will also release any pent-up energy. Just make sure that the treats you add to the puzzle are nutritious and good for your pet. After all, you do not want to stop your dog from digging only to cause it to gain weight.
No matter what method you use to prevent digging, you need to supervise your dog for some time. Once it begins understanding its new routine, you can slowly distance yourself from your pet. Some dogs will always require some sort of supervision, especially if they have a strong innate tendency to dig. If left alone, dirt-loving dogs may start digging into the yard once again. While this may be frustration, never yell at your dog if it happens. Yelling can scare your dog and cause it to dig when you are not around.
My final thoughts
In some instances, dogs may rebel by sneaking and digging behind their owner’s back. If you have exhausted all types of training, speak to a certified dog trainer or see if you can seek help from an animal behaviorist. Most dogs will adapt to a new digging program as long as you supervise the training and give them praise for following your instructions.
Even dogs that love to dig can be trained to dig in one area of the yard. You just have to give your canine added reassurance that it is doing the right things. Give it praise and treats and spend extra time with it to accomplish this type of objective.